Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief: Rated “PG“ (120 Minutes)
Directed by: Chris Columbus
If you haven’t yet seen Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (the first film in this series which was based on the Young Adult novel The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book 1); not to worry, as while it was a fun film (see below), it really isn’t necessary to have seen that film (or even to have read the book on which it was based), to enjoy the new film. Still, if — after seeing this film, you want to see the first one, we highly recommend it, as, well, it really was quite entertaining. At any rate, this is a review of the first film, a review of the second (current) film appears here.
The worlds of Greek mythology come entertainingly to life in this engagingly light action/adventure yarn clearly targeted for the teen set. Imagine that in your regular life you and your mom live with her new husband (who is a despicable bum that smells rank, drinks like a fish, and treats both her and you with complete disrespect). Your best friend is handicapped and forced to walk with a pair of crutches. As for yourself, you have dyslexia and ADD.
Sounds like you could very well be the average American teen. Only, one day, you learn that well, you actually aren’t. This is the day that you also discover that your substitute teacher is a harpy, (and no, we do not a shrill, bitchy shrew, but a living, breathing malevolent, winged creature of legend) who seriously wants to kill you, your best friend turns out is really a wood nymph, and now a bloodthirsty Minotaur wants to rend you limb from limb.
Yeah, you’re not anything close to normal; you — as it turns out — are the son of a Greek god; and, not just any god, mind you, you are the scion of Neptune, lord mucky-muck of the seven seas.
This is the background for this wonderful series of teen-oriented books turned big-budget movie. So it is important to think of the film not so much as a Harry Potter-lite, but as a modern-day mythological epic fantasy that is cut from the same (if less dense) cloth as Homer’s, Odyssey. On some levels it is actually a far more entertaining story that that of JK Rowling’s young hero, while Percy Jackson’s is based on actual Greek legends rather than something that was stitched willy-nilly from the remnants of other people’s fables.
As indicated, Percy’s tale follows in the footsteps of the mythological travels of Odysseus (as well as mirroring that of Clash of the Titans). In this tale, someone has stolen Zeus’ fabled lighting, and Percy has been blamed, so it is up to him and his young friends (all godlings themselves) to locate the lighting and return it to Zeus before all chaos ensues. This film stands tall on its own, even if you aren’t familiar with those other stories, plus it has the added advantage of potentially drawing in a younger audience to perhaps enjoy and learn more about the Greek Myths that originally inspired it.
Not bad for a teen action/adventure flick, eh?
Read a review of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.
Robert J. Sodaro has been reviewing films for some 30 years. During that time, his movie reviews and articles have appeared in numerous print publications, as well as on the web. Subscribe to receive regular articles and movie reviews.