It Runs In the Family (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: the Lightning Thief, 2010)
Studios are always on the hunt for their franchises. And Harry Potter had everyone convinced they knew the formula. And so 20th Century Fox brought in Chris Columbus, director of the first two Harry Potter films to adapt the Percy Jackson and the Olympians by young author Rick Riordan.
Percy Jackson has lived his life with his mother and a terrible step-father. His only solace is swimming and his friend Grover. He struggles with dyslexia and is easily distracted. One day on a school trip he makes a rather startling discovery. He is the son of Poseidon, the Greek God of the Sea. Grover turns out to be a satyr and his protector and takes Percy and his mother to a place where Percy will be safe. See, it turns out that everyone in Mythdom believes Percy has stolen Zeus’ lightning bolt. And so everyone is trying to get it from him to start a war.
A minotaur interferes with their attempt to reach Camp Halfblood. While Percy and Grover make it, his mother is taken by Hades. Along with Grover and Annabeth, the daughter of Athena, Percy goes on a quest to free his mother from Hades.
The film draws from various Greek stories, bringing Percy against the Hydra, Medusa, and the underworld. It is filled pretty richly with creatures of myths like Centaurs and furies.
The first two Harry Potter films were faithful to the source to the point of near detriments, but on the other hand the casting of the instructors was downright inspired. Now, I have not read the books, so I am not sure how closely the films follow their inspirations. But while the cast is good, there are really no…”That person now defines how I would see them in any incarnation”. Again, the cast is good. You have Sean Bean, Joe Pantoliano, Uma Thurman, Catherine Keener, Rosario Dawson, and Pierce Brosnan in your supporting cast. And really, Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson and Alexandra Daddario connect well as a team.
A lot of the creature designs are pretty good. Some, are hampered by being very obvious digital monsters. And honestly, the film makes the same flaw in their choice for Medusa as the Clash of the Titans remake…she is to seductive looking.
However, there are some inspired moments, for example, the hydra begins as five men who combine into the beast.
The Lightning Thief has an interesting enough idea at it’s core that I did find the film to be fairly entertaining. Not a classic or must see, of course, but it is certainly passable light entertainment.