Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Rick Riordan’s success with his Percy Jackson & the Olympians series of books practically begged for the Harry Potter treatment, and it was just a matter of time before Hollywood duly obliged.
Judging by its amazingly fun opening instalment, Percy Jackson is off to a much better start than young Potter (even hardcore Rowling devotees have to agree that The Sorcerer’s Stone was its weakest adaptation) back in 2001.
The Lightning Thief introduces us to the teenaged Jackson (Logan Wade Lerman). He lives a relatively average life with his mother Sally (Catherine Keener) and deadbeat stepdad Gabe Ugliano (Joe Pantoliano) in New York.
That is until he learns that he is the son of Poseidon and has been falsely accused by the king of gods, Zeus, of stealing his lightning bolt.
Accompanied by fellow demigod Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and his junior satyr protector-cum-best friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), Percy embarks on a journey across America, the Underworld and Olympia.
His mission: to clear his name, avert a war among a pantheon of (apparently super-horny) Greek gods, save his mother, and just maybe resolve some daddy issues along the way.
This fabulous fantasy adventure zips along at a delightfully fast pace, never losing its sense of momentum and keeps the action perpetually engaging as our young heroes encounter an assortment of classic monsters from Greek mythology.
The confrontation with Uma Thurman’s vaudevillian Medusa is especially brilliant. It is the introductory instalment, so expect lots of clunky exposition. Thankfully those scenes hardly detract from the fun.
I’ve never read the books before so I was particularly amused by the clever updating and infusion of familiar Greek myths into modern-day America and contemporary scenarios (Perseus's magic flying shoes now come in stylishly practical Chucks).
Logan Wade Lerman (the nerd in me has to point out that Lerman seems to have been named after two X-Men characters) lends Percy a palpable likeability and casual charm that makes his character an immediately engaging attraction.
Brandon T. Jackson may play the requisite wisecracking African-African sidekick but his natural delivery makes him a hoot anyways.
The only weak spot is Daddario, who plays Athena’s warrior daughter.
I’m not entirely sure if it’s Daddario’s fault (because she really wasn’t given much to do) but the Annabeth character comes across as rather uninspired. Her job here is to look alternately pretty and fierce, which she does very well, but I would love to see Annabeth given more to do in future sequels.
To his credit, director Chris Columbus (who coincidentally also helmed the first two Potter films) does a great job here crafting another fantastic family-friendly action-adventure romp.
This film is solidly entertaining through and through, and boisterously enjoyable for all age groups.
About Hidzir Junaini
Hidzir Junaini, aka inSing.com's Movie Lover, is 23-years-old and a wealthy playboy billionaire by day and a caped crusader by night. Only one of those is true. He’s actually a freelance writer, blogger, full-time film buff and some-time socially awkward nerd. He also writes about music, restaurants and nightlife for Metrowize Asia.