Posted: 02/16/2010


Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

by Rick Villalobos

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The story is the same every time: boy is the son of Poseidon and he must save the world before it is too late. Today’s superhero is a naïve teenager with powers. Move over Harry Potter. Edmund, get a tan. Whatever happened to the hero of yesterday? He is lost, somewhere, probably too busy to give a darn. Let’s be realistic. Those champions are gone. This world belongs to the crime fighters born with the outrageous ability to move stuff with their minds and vanish into thin air. It is not just smarts and a cunning wit that gets the job done anymore. Aqua Man was a true superhero and Percy Jackson is just a lame carbon copy.

Directed by Christopher Columbus (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, 2001), Percy Jackson and the Olympians: the Lightning Thief, follows a teenager on quest to find his mother. Protected by a satyr, a half man and half goat being, played by Brandon T. Jackson and Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario), the daughter of Athena, Percy and his fellow olympians must pass through the fires of the underworld to rescue his mother and return the lightning bolt to Mount Olympus. Yes, someone has stolen Zeus’s lightning bolt and Percy must find the culprit before a war ensues and destroys the world. It is just another days work for a demigod.

Sadly every film that is adapted from a popular children’s book will be compared to the Harry Potter series of films. Is that fair? No, but it is expected, especially if the director was once associated with everything that’s Harry and that freakish talking hat. Mr. Columbus, you cannot escape the opinions of all those fans wanting something different. Granted, Percy Jackson is a totally different hero, but the fact this champion can breath underwater is not enough to get our mojo working.

This film seemed rushed and choppy like a music video. It was a crash course in Greek mythology that was well executed, but dull. It didn’t have the excitement and the freshness of a new series. We want to be surprised and swept away by a world that is unlike our own. The premise is strong enough to dazzle and entertain, but it didn’t do either. Come on - a kid who finds out he is a demigod is accused of stealing Zeus’s lightning bolt – it is a concept that allows a lot of room for creativity.

Rick Villalobos is a writer and film critic in Chicago.

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