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The Independent Critic

Logan Lerman, Uma Thurman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson, Catherine Keener
Chris Columbus
Craig Titley
Rick Riordan (Novel)
Rated PG-13
119 Mins.
20th Century Fox
5 Deleted Scenes
Discover Your Powers Quiz
The Book Comes to Life

 "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief" Review 
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Having not read the five-volume 'tweener series by Rick Riordan upon which this film is based, it is impossible to surmise just how faithful director Chris Columbus and screenwriter Craig Titley are to the original source material for Percy Jackson & The Olympians- The Lightning Thief. Centered around the adventures of a seemingly normal boy who discovers he's the half-human, half-divine son of the Greek god Poseidon, Percy Jackson & The Olympians- The Lightning Thief was pronounced to be "not too good" by a young tween sitting nearby as the closing credits rolled. He further expressed that cinematic Percy (Logan Lerman) was nothing like he was in the box, not as much fun and "not as cool."

Therein lies the problem with the entire film. Despite dazzling special effects and a story that should delight, much of the film plays out like Zoom that actually works or, alternately, a far less entertaining version of Harry Potter sort of along the lines of when Adam Sandler gets together and produces an obviously less entertaining film (aka Grandma's Boy) to keep his buddies working.

Everything about Percy Jackson & The Olympians- The Lightning Thief feels like a blue collar version of the Potter adventures and, unfortunately, with Percy and his entourage director Chris Columbus is working with a far lower budget and less talented leads than when he directed the first two Potter films.

Having spoken with the aforementioned tween and a few other young people while exiting the theatre, it becomes apparent that Columbus has taken considerable dramatic, or not so dramatic, license with Riordan's source material including a smoothing out of Percy's rough edges and a significant reduction in the book's edgier and more entertaining scenes in favor of a more Hollywood-style bastardized and whitewashed approach that will likely please a wider audience yet disappoint fans of the book series. In the book, Percy is a rather fly 12-year-old while in this film he's a calmer, cooler and more confident 17-year-old.

Trust me, the changes don't end there.

The film kicks off by putting on display an ever-increasing conflict between Zeus (Sean Bean) and Poseidon (Kevin McKidd). Zeus' feared lightning bolt has disappeared and he suspects Poseidon's son, Percy, of stealing it. Meanwhile, Percy hangs out with his best bud Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) while dwelling upon his unresolved mommy (Catherine Keener) issues. Before long, a class field trip to the Metropolitan Museum goes awry and Percy is whisked off to Camp Half Blood, a training camp of sorts for demigods guided by Chiron (Pierce Brosnan), a half-horse centaur.

Seriously, who is Pierce Brosnan's agent?

Percy hooks up with Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), the daughter of goddess Athena, and end up on a journey to go find Percy's mom while encountering an assortment of gods along the way including Medusa (Uma Thurman), Hades (Steve Coogan) and Persephone (Rosario Dawson) among others.

Not surprisingly, virtually every aspect of Percy Jackson & The Olympians- The Lightning Thief screams out as a second-rate rip-off of the Potter films, but Lerman is no Daniel Radcliffe and those around him don't measure up at all to the Potter cast. Uma Thurman has a field day as the larger than life Medusa, while Coogan and Dawson make a nice pair as the husband and wife Hades and Persephone.

There is no doubt that 20th Century Fox is hoping that Percy Jackson will turn into its next cinematic franchise.

Trust me. It won't. While there's nothing particularly abysmal about the film, after the Harry Potter films audiences have come to realize that entertaining, intelligent and well acted films can be created for young people.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians- the Lightning Thief ain't it.

Within the first 15 minutes of Percy Jackson, it becomes apparent the young lad hasn't stolen Zeus' lightning bolt at all. After all, there's nothing resembling a spark in this film anywhere.

Production credits are merely functional, though Stephen Goldblatt's camera work has some shining moments. Christophe Beck's original score is far more epic than it ought to be, and Renee April's costuming comes off as more attention-seeking than cinematically appropriate.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic