Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, 2010, UK/USA/Canada
Y’know…without even checking the credits, I knew Chris Columbus directed this movie. I could tell from the tone, the awkward pacing, and the poorly developed characters. The two Harry Potter films he directed were better than this film, but they’re still the weakest in the Harry Potter series, in my opinion. He has some big issues in the pacing department and everything he touches turns to crap.
Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is a teenager who is struggling in school due to ADHD and Dyslexia. When his mother (Catherine Keener) is kidnapped, Percy and his best friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) journey to Camp Half-Blood where it is revealed that Percy is the son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and Grover is his protector. To save his mother, Percy, Grover and Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), daughter of Athena must journey to visit Hades (Steve Coogan) in exchange for Zeus’ (Sean Bean) lightning bolt – which Percy does not have.
The film jumps from scene to scene very quickly. We get no real introduction of Percy as a “normal” teenager. Instead, we get a brief glimpse of his normal life before he is whisked away to the school. Then, just as quickly, he’s off on a “quest”. What was the point of the school, and why was it emphasized so heavily by the supporting characters if they were only going to be there for ten minutes?
There were character problems, too. I felt no attachment to Percy or any of the other characters. I felt that Lerman and Daddario were really weak and couldn’t carry the movie. Their reactions, at times, felt either wooden, or awkwardly over-the-top. Jackson wasn’t bad – he offered much of the comic relief in the movie, but he wasn’t overly interesting to watch, either.
I can’t put all of the blame on the actors, though. The script was awful at times. Some of the dialogue was absolutely cringe-worthy, and even the more seasoned actors in the film were stuck with crummy and embarrassing lines. You’d think they would have had someone else look over the script and clean up the terrible dialogue. The main problem is that they tried to play the film straight, when the concept really isn’t cut out for it. I’m sorry, but if you’re going to take Greek mythology and place the characters and portals to the underworld in the United States, you have to play at least some of it for laughs. You can’t play it straight unless you’re going for over-the-top satire, and they most certainly aren’t doing that.
The movie did do well enough to warrant a sequel, and I would rent the sequel, but I really hope they get a different director and a writer who knows what they are doing.