Percy Jackson And The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) Review (PG-13)
Obviously this will be compared to the Harry Potter franchise and after seeing it, I would agree with the comparisons to some extent. Same kind of title. What starts out as a ‘camp’ for special (magical) kids, becomes a school by the end of it.
Percy (played by Logan Lerman) doesn’t have a great home life (Percy has an absentee dad and he and his mother lives with a sleasebag). He also feels average only to be informed that really he’s a special magical kid with superpowers and is taken off to a summer camp for demigods. The main difference with Percy and Harry is that this is like an American version compared to Harry Potter being set in England.
One thing I did like: whereas Potter liberally borrows and steals from other movies, stories and a myriad of diverse mythologies; Jackson concentrates on just Greek mythology. Instead of wizards, these kids are the offspring of Greek gods and humans. Instead of a school, it’s a camp. Instead of swinging dinky wands around, Percy Jackson cuts loose hacking away with a sword.
Jackson does have some differences from the Harry Potter series, aside from actually having an actual story with at least a semblance of conflict (am I prejudiced against the Potter series? Yes… I only really liked the 3rd one). Instead of a friend who’s scared of women, Jackson has a friend who turns out to be a very horny satyr (half human/half goat).
Instead of a strictly platonic relationship with his very girlish female best friend, Jackson has a curvy female friend to whom he wants to ‘hook up’ with. There is definitely a higher degree of boobage in Percy Jackson than in the Harry Potter movies, but again, this is the American counterpart.
I think Rosario Dawson was only in the film to show off her thespians, which seems a little… I don’t know, this is a tweener kids’ movie isn’t it? It also had a higher level of violence than the Potter movies, but took the violence a LOT less seriously.
Percy Jackson actually had a bit of humor in it, which helped it from becoming a snoozefest. Some of the humor was a bit stilted, but there were more than a few attempts at evoking chuckles. I laughed more in this than I did in all 19 of the Potter movies (ok, it just feels like 19 Potter films. Seen them all and can’t remember much more about them than they mostly sucked real bad). Also unlike Potter, Jackson’s adventures mainly happen in real world locales like Las Vegas, New York, etc… The tone in general was a bit more realistic, despite still being a ‘young readers’ adventure series. I applaud that, BUT… I do kind of think that the level of violence in this sort of movie was a bit misplaced. Whereas the Potter franchise is bloodless, the kids in the Percy Jackson film take up swords in training sessions and hack away at one another. Luckily some of them have special healing powers…whatever. I do question why adults would have kids training with actual weapons, but… whatever.
One thing I was extremely disappointed with, was that they ripped off Clash Of the Titans so shamelessly, especially with the Titans remake about to be released… It aggravates me… I won’t give it away for anyone who hasn’t seen the Harryhausen classic, but the scenes involving Medusa in this film are virtually interchangeable to those in ‘Clash’…
I did enjoy the scenes with Uma Thurman as Medusa, though. It seemed she reverted back to Poison Ivy mode (from the infamous Batman & Robin movie) and really hammed it up, but I didn’t mind it in this movie.
The movie’s story is very direct and predictable to a large degree. I knew who the Lightning Thief was immediately upon this person making his/her entrance. I’m sure you will also. But the actors were friendly enough…
There is a nice little epilogue after the movie ends and the credits roll. They also were nice enough not to put it at the end of the credits, too. Sometimes the little easter eggs that are left for patient viewers aren’t really worth the time, but I liked this one. It’s one of the better I’ve seen, really.
The CGI FX were pretty good. and were done with a little more care than movies like GI:Joe or The Mummy. The monsters/creatures in this movie were fun.
I especially liked the look of Hades, until he reverted back to his more human looking form and he turned out to be Steve Coogan. There are also minotaurs and Hydras and other greek mythological beasties. This whole movie is like a beginner’s guide to Greek Mythology, but it had just enough to stay likeable.
The FX and the humor kept it mildly entertaining and I will admit there was maybe one surprise or 2. If there are future installments, hopefully they will be a little better than this one. That being said, I think this was a better ‘entertainment’ than the first 2 Potter films (which is surprising since Chris Columbus directed all 3). It was a little less ‘nerd-cringeworthy’ also. I’ll give it 2.5 out of 5 whatevers, but it’s a high 2.5.