Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Percy Jackson, as played by young Logan Lerman, is a misunderstood, outcast of a kid with ADHD and dyslexia, with his only gift being the innate ability to hold his breath underwater like forever. I don’t know what the record for this kind of thing is but seven minutes seems like an awful long time to deprive the brain of oxygen. Percy lives in the ghetto, attends a ghetto-riffic school, but he does have a solid best buddy in his physically challenged mate Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) and the unconditional love of his mother Sally (Catherine Keener). His stepdad Gabe (Joe Pantoliano) is a jerk but then in the movie world what kind of step parent isn’t a jerk?

Percy’s rather mundane life takes a sudden change towards the ‘interesting’ when he is attacked by his substitute English Teacher who turns into a Fury and starts giving him the business about some Lightning Rod. It seems someone has stolen the most powerful weapon in the universe, that being the Lightning Rod of Zeus (Sean Bean), and those in the land of mythology believe that Percy Jackson is the Lightning Thief. A question of course would be ‘why’ they think the completely oblivious Percy has stolen it, but that will not be an answer that is forthcoming, or I just missed it.

Percy, as it turns out, is the son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) who along with his brothers Zeus and Hades (Steve Coogan) have had a tenuous thing going on up in Olympus, in the sea and down in the underworld for a while, but with the Lightning Rod in play this balance of power in this universe is now up for grabs. Percy, for his own safety, has to go to the land of the demi-god children to learn how to fight because his teacher Chrion the Centaur (Pierce Brosnan) wants him to be ready for a journey to Olympus to explain to Zeus that he’s not this lightning thief.

That’s sounds cool and all but Hades has snatched Percy’s mom and won’t let her go until Percy returns this Lightning Rod that he doesn’t have. So Percy is going to cut out of camp and go to Hell to get his mom, but his schoolmates Grover, who as it turns

out is a Satyr in addition to being Percy’s lifetime bodyguard, and the obligatory love interest Annabeth (Alexandra Doddario), a great warrior and daughter of Athena, are going with him to Hell, along with some mighty ‘come in handy’ type stuff given to them by stud classmate and son of Hermes Luke (Jake Abell), which includes instructions, maps, flying shoes and a rather nifty shield.

It is a perilous journey for Percy and his mates, one that will take them across the nation in a beat up Ford Pick-up truck where they will do battle with all kinds of mythical creatures with the balance of the planet earth and life itself at stake.  Or something along those lines.

Watching ‘Percy Jackson and The Olympians: the Lightning Thief’ has me thinking that sometimes our filmmaking friends don’t even try anymore. Anything that you are going get out of a movie like this, made the way it was made, is going to come from the special effects team because that seems to be where all the effort went. I’m told that Rick Riordan’s books, of which there are five, are very good but major concessions were made for this film version, as per usual, but not for the better. These are the fans talking, not me, because I wouldn’t know. I can only go by what I saw and what I have seen is not all that impressive. The story itself is paint by numbers. A misunderstood boy… this aspect of Percy was poorly developed by the way… who learns he is special, resists this specialness, accepts, meets a girl, meets a guy who is obviously too cool to be true, has a wacky friend, goes on an adventure and saves the day. Convention is cool, even expected at this point with the hope being that something can be done within convention to set itself apart but there was not a lot done by director Chris Columbus to separate Percy, Annabeth and Grover from any number of characters that we’ve seen in movies like this over and over again. The weight of carrying this movie was shifted away from the characters and again towards the special effects crew, which were nice and all, but not so great where they can carry an entire film.

Since the characters in this movie didn’t interest me I was sitting there in the theater stuck thinking about stupid stuff. For instance, Zeus has passed a God-Law that these deadbeat parental Gods can have no contact with their mortal children. Hey Zeus, how about passing a law that God’s should stop having sex with mortals? How about that for a law? Considering all of these demi-god kids that the Goddesses have birthed, what exactly is the gestation period for a Goddess of Olympus? Plus how in the world did Zeus lose this super weapon of his in the first place? How does one manage to break into Olympus and steal stuff? You would think that Olympus would have some kind of ADT security going on and then some kind of LoJack tracking device on their stuff. You would think? And for a PG rated movie there sure were a lot beheadings, drug usage (lotus leafs), death, disturbing imagery and lest we mention the tons of implied premarital sex between Gods and mortals. Why does The Ferryman need gold coins to help one cross the River Styx? Do they have a quick mart or something in hell? Can you get a slushie and some lotto tickets there? That would be nice. Could Rosario Dawson please stop being so damn fine? Does simply being born Black and male, Satyr or otherwise, make a person a jive talking slickster with the ability to dance? You see if only this movie was better I would’ve been thinking about how awesome it was instead of this stupid stuff. Waddayagonnado? My son didn’t like this movie either by the way, and read those books.

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