All the Best Demigods Have Daddy Issues: A Review of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief”

Where do I even start? I wanted to like this one, I honestly did. I went in hoping that it would be good. However, it wasn’t.

First off, in case you saw this coming, it’s true. This is basically a Harry Potter ripoff with worse production values. The plot is literally almost identical, like Avatar/Dances With Wolves/Pocahontas identical. But I digress. I won’t even go into detail about it, because if you know even the basic plot of Harry Potter, you’ve got Percy Jackson. One of the worst crimes that the film commits is not attempting to disguise that fact.

The acting is hit or miss. The kid who plays Percy, Logan Lerman (who you may recognize as that kid from Hoot and 3:10 to Yuma) does an acceptable job, but like everybody else, the script gives him nothing to work with. The same is true of Brandon T. Jackson, who is a good comedic actor, but has some awful one liners. The line “The health department should come in here and give this place an F!” is played for laughs. Alexandra Daddario is awful, and even though she’s a main character, she has about ten lines.

However, the kids are completely outclassed by the adult actors. This movie is basically an enormous game of “Hey, It’s That Guy!”. “Isn’t that Steve Coogan as Hades? And Pierce Brosnan as a centaur? Sean Bean as Zeus? Rosario Dawson? Catherine Keener? Uma Thurman? Kevin McKidd? Joe Pantoliano? Too bad these great actors are given NOTHING TO DO! Steve Coogan, one of the funniest actors working today, is given 3 minutes of unfunny screentime, before the equally mistreated Rosario Dawson knocks him cold. Pierce Brosnan, while pretty good, is nearly unrecognizable under that enormous beard. Kevin McKidd and Sean Bean are totally wasted. Catherine Keener is basically just reprising her role from Where the Wild Things Are. Joe Pantoliano is there for no other reason except to be an enormous jerk. Although Uma Thurman’s cameo as Medusa caught me off guard. She’s clearly having a ton of fun, and completely hams it up. “ALLLLLLLLLLLL YOU HAVE TO DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO…IS LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOK…”

The writing is pretty bad. Only a few lines really work, mostly because Logan Lerman does an excellent job selling them (while Brandon T. Jackson doesn’t try at all). The screenwriter’s previous work consists of Cheaper by the Dozen, Cheaper by the Dozen 2, and an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, so perhaps this was to be expected. The direction was nothing spectacular. A monkey could have directed this film. The special effects were good…in 1993. Now they look cheap.The editing was amateurish at best. Is there really no other way to end a scene than with a fade out/fade in?

A big problem with the film was its inability to trust its audience. Exposition is laid out clumsily and obviously. Several visuals are shown an unnecessary amount of times. As if we didn’t understand that AOEHNA was supposed to be Greek for ATHENA, not that it was that important anyway, the film shows the letters translating themselves into English. Not only is this trick used several times, but after the word is translated, a character feels the need to READ IT OUT LOUD FOR US.

Overall, this film was forgettable. It wasn’t boring, but it commits the single worst crime that any film can commit. I was aware, at all times, that I was watching a movie. It was not engrossing in the least. This film will be quickly forgotten, and I think that you can forget about a sequel. It doesn’t even feel like a missed opportunity. This film couldn’t ever have been that good. It fell flat on it’s face.

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Josh Rosenfield

Josh Rosenfield is a Film Media major at the University of Rhode Island. He has been writing Popcorn Culture since 2010.

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