Published Feb 11, 2010So, Brooklyn teenager Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) has just learned that he's the demigod son of Poseidon, and he's been escorted by his human mother (Catherine Keener) and best friend/satyr protector Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) to a sort-of demigod training camp. Hades (Steve Coogan) thinks Percy has stolen the power of lightning, and our falsely accused hero will need a lot of training to protect himself.
Got that? Okay, while pathetically fumbling his way through a swordfight with sassy-ish love interest Hera (Erica Cerra), Percy realizes that water gives him strength and, after a quick dip of his hand in a conveniently placed stream, he's ready to kick some Olympian-sized ass. Because earning skills through hard work is for suckers.
Now, from this point on Percy is a perfectly capable swordsman and strategist. He even gets cocky enough to think that he can go to the Underworld and rescue his kidnapped mother, and the ensuing series of action set pieces proves that, well, he's right. Sure, he has a little help from Ron and Hermione (I mean, Grover and Hera), but I'll bet it takes a lot of skill to fly around a room and cut the heads off a three-headed dragon. Question: if a little splash of water is all it takes, why does Percy need training? Hell, just think what a litre of Evian might do.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief — yes, that's the title, complete with franchise hopeful colon — is reportedly based on a novel by Rick Riordan, which I have never heard of. I have, however, heard of director Chris Columbus, whose two Harry Potter entries were knocked for being too slavishly faithful to J.K. Rowling's books.
Hate to say it, but maybe more slavish devotion might have helped this film. The opening real world scenes are skimmed through, and we're not given enough time to be introduced to Percy and figure out what makes him more than a generic hero. As for the fantasy world, the training camp looks like a Life of Brian convention in a national park, and the special effects are almost as convincing as the graphics on my Nintendo 64 system.
There are some nice moments though, like a weird Las Vegas interlude scored to Lady Gaga music that seems to have been left in by accident, as well as the marvellously realized Underworld. And, if nothing else, Percy Jackson & The Chamber of Secrets: The Goblet of Fire at least confirms a widely held suspicion that the devil resides in Hollywood. (Fox)