Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief ?

The Hollywood powers-that-be are hoping that this will one herald a franchise to take over from Harry Potter. Slim chance of that. Though kids will probably be entertained there's precious little here to impress the adults. It's clunky, episodic and has excruciating dialogue. It's also overlong and over-reliant on CGI effects while the central premise is unpersuasive.

Percy Jackson (Lerman) is your average 17-year-old high-schooler. He lives with his mum (a miscast Keener) and her no-good boyfriend (Pantoliano) having never seen his real father. That's because pa is legendary Greek God Poseidon (McKidd).  His parents were somewhat mismatched. Anyway, Poseidon is involved in a skirmish with Zeus (pronounced Zoose by the actors), played by Bean. Apparently his lightning bolt has been stolen and he's convinced Poseidon's son is the culprit.

When his life is endangered Percy moves away from home to a training camp for demi-gods, the offspring of the Greek legends. He is helped by his best buddy Grover (Jackson), a satyr, and falls for pretty Annabeth (Daddario), the daughter of Athena while being mentored by Chiron the Centaur (Brosnan, unafraid to look ridiculous). Their quest takes them to destinations including New Jersey and Las Vegas where they behead evil Medusa (Thurman) and fight dastardly Hades (Coogan) who's accompanied by sexy Persephone (Dawson) before finishing at Mount Olympus, situated high above New York City don't you know.

By the time the the eventual climax is reached you'll be tired out from the hamfisted direction and relentless effects. Director Columbus adopts the same template as his two Harry Potter efforts and Young Sherlock Holmes - the three young innocent leads in constant peril. But this goes on forever and fails to charm. Though they have abundant energy the lead characters are not particularly likeable and the scenes with the Greek Gods are laughable. Bean, McKidd and co are all so po-faced and spout such ludicrous lines with utter solemnity you cannot fail to laugh.

One sincerely hopes that this does not lead to further sequels, but young children might well be impressed with the colourful design and fire-breathing monsters. They'll probably come out happily sated but elders will find it a feat of endurance to sit through. It wears you out with its plastic attempts at excitement and lack of intelligent scripting. Best to avoid it unless you have to bow to pressure from your little offspring.      

Official Site
Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief  at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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