Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning
by Tony Medley
Run Time 119 minutes.
Not for children.
Author Rick Riordan has written a series of
children’s books based on his protagonist, Percy Jackson, as the son of
a Greek God, Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and an ordinary American woman,
Sally Jackson (Catherine Keener). According to this film, the fictional
Olympian gods are alive right now. Worse, or better, they copulate with
humans, begetting children, who are, as a result, demigods half-god,
half-human, just like the heroic Greek myths of old.
In the books, Percy is 12-years-old. The
filmmakers changed his age to a post-pubescent teenager, apparently so
the film could appeal to a category other than pre-pubescent boys. They
needn’t have bothered. This film is so poorly directed that they will be
lucky if even 10-year-old boys will swallow it.
The plot is that Percy (Logan Lerman) is
suddenly thrust from his plodding life as a dyslexic high school student
into an otherworld having to find Zeus’ (Sean Bean) lightning rod that
has been stolen and find his mother, who has been abducted by Hades
(Steve Coogan). Accompanying him is his best friend, crippled Grover
(Brandon T. Jackson), who is a satyr. Grover seems to have known all
along he was a satyr put there to protect Percy, but Percy has no clue
whom his father was until this film came along.
This film is replete with plot holes. I haven’t
read any of the books, but I must imagine that they were all imported
from the books. The biggest one for me is that Percy is somehow directed
to some sort of training camp where there is a whole army of young
people who spend all their time learning how to fight with swords and
shields. Here are all these gods with unlimited power, living in the
time of atomic weapons and guns and such, and these people are learning
how to fight with swords? That seems ridiculous, even for a 10-year-old
This is directed by Chris Columbus, who has only
one credit that impresses me, 1990’s imaginative “Home Alone.”
Unfortunately, he has followed that up with things like 1993’s “Mrs.
Doubtfire,” a sexist Robin Williams vehicle that I loathed, and 2009’s
“I Love You, Beth Cooper,” about which the less said the better, and two
“Harry Potter” fantasies.
Even so, the movie does have some assets.
Screenwriter Craig Titley comes up with some pretty good lines during
the two-hour course of this film, and also takes a shot at President
Obama in a metaphoric speech near the end of the film. And Logan Lerman
gives his second good outing in a row, following up on 2009’s “My One
and Only,” in which he played a role based on the young George Hamilton.
There are also good performances by Keener, whom
I’ve rarely seen give anything that wasn’t outstanding, and Uma Thurman
as Medusa. Counterbalancing them is Pierce Brosnan, appearing,
literally, as a horse’s ass, who apparently was trying to be more
laughable than he was in “Mamma Mia,” where he was miscast in a singing
February 14, 2010