Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Director: Chris Columbus

Cast: Logan Lerman (Percy), Brandon T. Jackson (Grover), Alexandra Daddario (Annabeth), Pierce Brosnan (Chiron), Sean Bean (Zeus), Kevin McKidd (Poseidon), Uma Thurman (Medusa)

Plot Summary: Percy Jackson is a regular kid who suddenly discovers that he is the son of Poseidon, god of the sea. He is then dragged into a world of Greek myths and monsters.

The Good

» Brandon T. Jackson as Grover. He was a perfect blend of comic relief and viable sidekick. I didn’t find him annoying or overbearing, which is refreshing to see in a role that could easily slide into either territory.

» The mixture of fantasy and reality. I think Columbus hit the mark with translating the “real kid” aspects of Percy Jackson with the complete fantasy that fans of the series love.

» Special effects. I was especially impressed with the water effects, which is such an integral part of the plot. It looked really natural (as natural as demigod-controlled water can look) and I liked the overall look and feel of the effects.

» The fandom factor. A movie like this is nothing without fans, especially a movie based on a book that comes with its own built-in fandom (Twilight, anyone?). The studio did a great job with the casting – hot young stars like Logan Lerman and Alexandra Daddario mixed with seasoned talent like Pierce Brosnan and Sean Bean – that will attract fans of all ages and give the literary fans something to smooth any ruffled feathers.

The Bad

» The title. As far as I’m concerned, the title of both the book and the movie is Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. I was unpleasantly surprised when the title screen read Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief. Um… what? This isn’t Harry Potter, Chris; stick to the real title. (Also, why is it listed the correct way all over the internet, but not in the actual film?)

» The hellhounds. I leaned over to my friend and said, “It’s an R.O.U.S.!” The filmmakers were probably banking on the fact that 90% of their demographic has never seen The Princess Bride (don’t even get me started on that travesty) and wouldn’t notice the clear similarities.

» Luke. I wasn’t impressed at all by the character development here, especially the lack of subtlety as to his true identity. Plus, all of his backstory was cut from the film, which really gave his character a likeability factor in the book that just wasn’t there on screen.

Movie vs Book

As a huge fan of Rick Riordan’s book series, I have to comment on the transition from page to screen. Of course I realize that there will always be changes that are made to important plot elements and character development; however, my biggest complaint is the chemistry between Percy and Annabeth and how much I wish it had been truer to Riordan’s original intentions. In the book, the relationship doesn’t jump to attraction right away, but Riordan strings his readers along for five books with will-they-or-won’t-they tension. I felt this was lacking in the film, and I would have enjoyed seeing Annabeth call Percy “seaweed brain” at least once.

Overall Impression
In spite of its shortcomings, I feel like Chris Columbus pulled from his Harry Potter experience and hit the nail on the head once again with a fantasy adventure film suitable for families and fans alike.