A hero called Percy? I don’t think so! Logan Lerman lands a huge star part but a short straw as an over-cute American high schooler, who turns out to be a demi-god. No, really!
Even if Lerman can’t spark things up too much as Percy Jackson, at least he looks the part and is eager to please. But a spectacularly miscast Sean Bean can only raise unintentional laughs as top god Zeus, who starts off the daft young teens’ yarn (sorry, young adult story) by acting extremely cross because his lightning bolt has been stolen. Enough to enrage anyone, I would say. It was a bolt out of the blue.
For rather obscure reasons, old Zeus thinks that young Percy is the thief. But then he hadn’t read the film’s UK title Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief, or he would have known that someone else had nicked the bolt, and then probably made a bolt for the door.
Then again, Percy is pretty upset himself, for someone has stolen his mum Sally (Catherine Keener) – probably Zeus, I would guess as a revenge theft or maybe a bargaining tool to get that darned bolt back. Except that Percy doesn’t have it, or anyway he thinks that he doesn’t have it. Oh, who cares?
Director Chris Columbus (maker of the first two Harry Potter movies, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets) tries his dashed darnedest to kick this movie of book author Rick Riordan’s kids’ bestseller into top gear. But, for all the obvious care and effort, somehow it never happens.
It obviously wants to be the start of a new Potter franchise, but, with no chemistry between the three central youngsters – Lerman, Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth, the sword-wielding temptress he fancies, and Brandon T Jackson (no relation to Percy) as Grover, his ‘protector’, it just doesn’t seem to have it.
The special effects are good, the production handsome, Craig Titley’s screenplay is tidy and literate (though clearly struggling in places) and the film’s intentions are good hearted and honourable. So it is hard to knock something so essentially old-fashioned and nice, but I will anyway.
Did I tell you that Pierce Brosnan is a horse, or something like that, that Uma Thurman gives her campest ever performance as Medusa (she of the snakes for hair and the stony gaze) and that Kevin McKidd is Lerman’s dad, making for an extremely ungodlike (and Scottish) Poseidon (Greek god of the sea)? They probably thought that Steve Coogan could go to hell, so they hired him to play Hades (god of the underworld, brother of Zeus and Poseidon). Rarely have the Brits been so poorly used in an American movie.
It is rated PG for action violence and peril, some scary images and suggestive material, and mild language.
It cost quite a lot ($95 million) and did OK ($88 million in the US) but probably more was expected from it. Nevertheless, it is followed by Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters (2013).
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4334
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