Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (20th Century Fox, PG)

Percy Jackson also won’t get many points for originality.

It’s now time for our biannual children-save-the-world-from-mystical-forces film, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is just as good a choice as any for us to kick off 2010 with.
Percy (Logan Lerman) is just your average, modern day New York City teen. Sure, he’s dyslexic and a little ADHD, but that doesn’t mean he’s not smart. But when a class outing to the museum almost takes a deadly turn for Percy, he learns he’s not as normal as he thought.
Percy Jackson is a movie tailor-made for kids who need a bit of adventure in their lives, and they’re sure to love it. The adults who shuttle them to the movie, though, may find some holes here and there.
Percy has grown up with his mom (Catherine Keener) and brutish stepdad (Joe Pantoliano). When Percy finds out about the dangerous creatures that would have been sent after him because of his real father, he tells his mom only put up with his stepfather because the man’s odor kept them from locating Percy. Though his stepdad was clearly no prize, but there was nothing about his appearance that said “BO strong enough to keep monsters away.”
Once Percy discovers his true lineage, he’s whisked away for special training to a school for other kids like him. Their teacher, Chiron (Pierce Brosnan), makes a big deal about how Percy needs training to use his gifts. What does this training consist of, you might wonder? Oh, just throwing Percy into a battle where his fellow students (who’ve all been training much longer than him) use real, sharp weapons.
I’m not saying an ’80s style training montage would’ve been better, but I don’t think the U.S. Marines even train newbies like that, and they are hardcore. How about a scene where he’s at least taught how to hold a sword? This way it would look like they’re trying to help him instead of seeing how fast they can kill him.
Percy Jackson also won’t get many points for originality. Read this plot synopsis and see what comes to mind: seemingly normal boy with crappy home life finds out he’s really quite special and gets taken to a secret school where he can be with other children just like himself and they can learn to save the world from mystical evil together. Harry Potter, call your lawyer.
Percy is also blessed with a sassy, hip-talking black friend (wow, we’ve never seen that before). He has a tough but beautiful gal pal who is (obviously) destined to be his one true love, and an absentee dad. And Percy is not without a strict but caring teacher who will become a father figure, and a mother who will do absolutely anything to protect her son.
Having said all that, there are some stunning effects in the film. The attack of a Fury, for instance, and Hades himself appearing from a campfire, are incredibly well done. And there’s a scene in the Underworld that really took my breath away; not only do soul languish for eternity there, but so do the unfulfilled desires and abandoned hopes of humanity. Watching the relics of dreams deferred wash over the burning souls below was simply stunning. | Adrienne Jones

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