Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

The latest adaptation from Chris Columbus is a huge step forward from his dismal last effort but for every good scene in this film there is a bad line or plot hole that levels the film out to just being an alright, mildly entertaining experience.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief is quite a long title but the film is the first adaptation from this fantasy series that has quite the following and is hoping to be the next big thing with kids. After watching the first film, I think it will connect quite well with younger audiences and even works for the older audience at times but anyone with a bit of common sense will have quite a lot to shake their head at as this film rushes through to the end.
Percy Jackson seems like just like any other high school kid, but what he doesn’t know is that he is actually the son of Poseidon and is in the middle of brewing war between the Greek gods that the blame firmly falls on young Percy’s shoulders. It is unfortunate that Percy doesn’t know this yet and before he knows it he is attacked by a number of evil beasts as he, his mother, and his recently revealed protector/ best friend comes out of hiding and leads them in flee to “the camp.” The party reaches the camp which houses and trains all of the half-man/half-gods to use their powers and Percy must train to head off on his quest to stop the impending war.
Now like I said early, the film flies along at a whips pace, is full of action beats, and rarely let’s up which keeps things moving along and stays interesting. The effects work in the film is also really fantastic, props to Trixter Film who are pretty new to the scene, and the adult supporting cast is great from top to bottom. But from these high points in the film come just as many low ones. The script is dumb down beyond belief with characters repeating obvious things to death just to make sure everyone gets what is going on; it is insulting. The three young leads are also a bit all over the place and while they have nice moments sprinkled through out, you will find yourself cringing at a look or delivery from time to time as well; no one is awful/no one is great. There are also just countless plot holes and conveniences in the film that will have you going, “really?” Also just a couple of logistic questions, Why are all the Greek gods British, why is Mt. Olympus connected to the Empire State Building, why is Hell in L.A., and finally why did they rip off Constantine for their interpretation of Hell? These are just a couple questions, I am sure I could come up with more.
The supporting cast is filled out with a long list of quality actors and they really help keep the film a float when it looks like the kids aren’t going to be able to handle it, they do their best work in Vegas. Kevin McKidd, Sean “The Man” Bean, Rosario Dawson, Catherine Keener, Joe Pantoliano, Pierce Brosnan, Steve Coogan, and Uma Thurman are the big principles supporters and they all do fine work. Uma has the most screen time and fun out of them and I wish there was more of Bean, Coogan, Dawson, and McKidd to go around. Logan Lerman is admirable enough as Percy Jackson and his two side kicks in Brandon T. Jackson and Alexandra Daddario outshine him just a hair, though if they do another I could see these guys growing into their roles and bring a bit more to the table.
In the end, Percy Jackson is a nice comeback for Chris Columbus after the atrocious “I Love You Beth Cooper” and he proves he still knows how to direct. While he didn’t knock it out of the park, this is a nice base to a potentially fun franchise, if successful, that I wouldn’t mind seeing where it goes. This film though does have some issues that hold back its high points and if they can iron out the scripts plot holes and not dumb them down there might be some more fun to be had here. As it stands, the Percy Jackson franchise is off to a decent enough start even if it doesn’t hold a candle to other established franchises it is trying to mirror.
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief is a C+

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