Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

Posted by Maria Mills | Posted on 1:58 PM | Posted in

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Movie Review written by: Born Movie Reviews
RT Critics Rating: 4.9/10

Born Movie Reviews' Rating: 4/10


You fell in love with Harry Potter before in the magical world. Now meet Percy Jackson in the Greek mythology world. Except in this film, you're probably not gonna fall in love with him.

Percy (Logan Lerman) is a sixteen-year old dyslexic teenager with a unique ability to stay underwater for a long time. He soon discovers that he is a demigod, a half-blood of a god and a mortal human, the son of Poseidon, God of the Seas. He is then brought to Camp Half-Blood, where he begins to train his demigod powers. In addition, he discovers that he is accused of stealing Zeus' lost lightning bolt. Now the God of Thunder is demanding his bolt to be returned before the next summer solstice, or else he will wage war among the gods.

The entire cast of this film is a runner-up of other large fantasy films. If Lord of the Rings is the highest tier of fantasy filmmaking, then Harry Potter will come after, then Narnia, then this. Yes, this is even worse than the Narnia films... although Voyage of the Dawn Treader makes it a very tough competition.

Joining Percy on his quest is Grover Underwood (Brandon T. Jackson), a satyr and his protector, and Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario), the demigod daughter of Athena. I'm sure this trio is original enough in the novel series, but here, the movie does not even try, and portrays the three as the most cardboard lead characters ever in a fantasy movie. You might as well see yourself following Percy Potter, Annabeth Granger, and... black satyr Ron. As for the supporting cast, they are way too minor to do the film any good. Sean Bean plays Zeus, who physically fits the role but says little to no lines. Also, are we ever going to find out how the King of the twelve gods managed to lose his own weapon? Along with Bean, we get another minor performance from Pierce Brosnan as a centaur, Uma Thurman as Medusa, Steve Coogan as Hades, and a cameo of Rosario Dawson as Persephone.

The actual story of this movie is fine, but the execution is what killed it. The film takes no time to develop personalities and characterization as well as how Camp Half-Blood works for the leads. Once the plot begins, our "heroes" start their journey immediately, where we soon face the excruciating moments where Greek mythology meets modern context. For example, there is no way Medusa would dress up like Lady Gaga. There is also no way a satyr can paint his hooves red and dance on the dance floor without people noticing him. This brings me to one of the main problems for The Lightning Thief: the narrative constantly shifts between the story and funny scenes that will make the kids laugh. With bad editing and pacing, the film lacks a focus. After a good forty minutes, the rest of the film bloodens you to death with cheesy one-liners and tacky writing, all delivered under the hands of mediocre actors, along with very mediocre CGI. I can't even imagine Daniel Radcliffe and the others say these lines while keeping a straight face.

In many ways as well, the film is severely anti-climactic, and the plot's resolution is not only sudden, but also very disappointing. You might find yourself saying "That's it?" at the end.

Perhaps the greatest problem with The Lightning Thief is the fact that it is executed to be a kid's movie, instead of a family movie. Unlike Harry Potter, there is never a sense of peril, danger, or suspense. It never gets you to hold your breath at a scene, or pause to relax and take in a person's character. I have heard all over the place that Rick Riodan's novels are outstanding books, but I highly doubt that the books are kids' books as well.

For sure, the kids are going to love this movie. They'll eat it up and become more and more intrigued with Greek mythology. Surely, it will entertain them. However, the older people in the audience are going to have big trouble with this. These include Harry Potter fans as well as fans of the original Percy Jackson novels.

In conclusion, The Lightning Thief is a very derivative and worn out fantasy film, reserved for a much younger audience than other films of its genre. The story has potential, and the concept of Greek myths fusing with the human world is intriguing, but the execution of this film is wrong in almost every way, with one-liners given out of context, peculiar cardboard characters, and little to no story explanations. This extremely second-handed film is definitely not stealing Zeus' thunder, it's stealing Potter's.

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