out of Five
Running time: 119
Enjoyable, nicely paced family adventure with likeable characters, a strong central premise and some decent set-pieces, though the plot's a little hazy in places and the humour doesn't always work.
What's it all about?
Directed by Chris Columbus, Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief is based on the series of books by Rick Riordan and clearly has an eye on becoming the next Harry Potter-style franchise. Logan Lerman stars as Percy Jackson, a New York teenager who discovers that he's the son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and that his best friend, Grover (Brandon T.
Jackson) is actually his satyr protector, complete with goat's legs.
When Percy's uncle Zeus (Sean Bean) suspects him of stealing his lightning bolt, Percy receives a quick bit of instruction in demigoddery from professor-slash-centaur Chiron (Pierce Brosnan) and teams up with Grover and fellow demigod Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) to track down the real lightning thief and return the bolt before it causes a meteorological catastrophe on Earth. Along the way, the trio encounter various figures from Greek mythology, including Harpies, a Minotaur, Medusa (Uma Thurman), the Hydra, a Vegas casino full of hedonistic lotus-eaters, Persephone (Rosario Dawson) and Percy's other uncle, Hades (Steve Coogan).
Lerman makes a charismatic and appealing lead, while Daddario is feistier than the usual love interest and Jackson nabs most of the good lines as the comic relief. There's also strong support from Uma Thurman (her Medusa is terrific), Catherine Keener (as Percy's mother) and Rosario Dawson, while Steve Coogan is very funny in his only scene as Hades (well, his only scene in human form).
The effects are impressive (although you'll be hard pressed not to chuckle at Brosnan as a centaur) and the set-pieces are exciting, with Columbus maintaining a decent pace throughout, keeping the characters moving swiftly from one adventure to the next.
In fact, it all moves so quickly that you don't notice some of the dodgier plot moments, such as why Percy is a suspect in the first place if he doesn't know he's a demigod or exactly why the lightning rod is so important. It's also fair to say that, Coogan's scene aside, the script's not quite as funny as the film thinks it is.
Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief is an entertaining, well made family adventure with a strong central premise that has a lot of franchise potential. Worth seeing.
Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief (PG)