“Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” Gave me a New Book To Tackle

Genres: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy and Adaptation
Running Time: 120 min.
Release Date: February 12th, 2010 (wide) MPAA Rating: PG for action violence and peril, some scary images and suggestive material, and mild language.
Distributors: 20th Century Fox Distribution, Fox 2000

Director: Chris Columbus

JJ Rating: A-

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) finds out that his problems in school and his love for water are connected to him being a son of a god by the name of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd). He also found out he was blamed for stealing Zeus’s (Sean Bean) lightning bolt. Now he has to return something that he did not know was missing to someone he only read about in school. Percy Jackson & The Olympians: Lightning Thief.

There are always complainers about book adaptations and I always bring up ‘Jurassic Park’ and how it was NOTHING like Jurassic Park and yet Jurassic Park was still a great movie. I love bringing up Jurassic Park because people who love the book of an adaptation say I don’t understand. I do read. I do see books that turn into movies. I understand the frustration of not seeing what you read, but I also understand the need to separate book from movie. It’s not that hard. I am reading the ‘Lightning Thief’ right now, I just started. I’ve read about 30 pages and see how the beginning is already different, not only in what characters are used, but how the story is told. In the book it’s first person, in the movie it’s not. Big deal? Not really.

I thought Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief was well done. I was entertained from the very beginning (which did seem rushed) to the very end. It felt like the beginning was pushing, pushing, pushing to show him as Poseidon’s child—a demigod. It is not a problem that Chris Columbus and the script wanted to get there fast so that it had more time to spend elsewhere, but I think it could have been handled a little better. That is my only qualm.

Lerman is a good actor. I first saw him in ‘Jack and Bobby’ and he was in last year’s Gamer. I think he did a great job was Percy Jackson. He was charismatic, believable, fun, engaging, charming, and commanding. I’ll know how right I am after I finish reading the first book. As I am reading the book (and after I read comments on IMDB) I see that Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) is not as he is portrayed in the book. The noticeable difference is the skin color. Is that an issue for me? No. There are certain characters that are created that don’t necessarily matter what skin color they are. I think that that wouldn’t be the case very often, but Grover is one of those characters. Jackson did a good job as Grover and he is a great comedic relief. This might bother some people that are too white breaded for their own good, but oh well. Alexandra Daddario is Annabeth and she gives a strong performance. Uma Thurman is Medusa and she does a charismatic job. She’s not on the screen for very long, but with her acting she was able to make sure she was remembered as an alluring woman with snakes dancing on her head.

Percy Jackson’s storyline seemed condensed. They seemed to be trying to keep it less than 2 hours. The book is not as long as a Harry Potter, but there is still a lot of information they had to leave out according to many complaints. I wonder how much longer it would be if they had added certain characters that are supposedly important to the series into the film? I wouldn’t have mind sitting there and watching it for another 25 minutes. The film was fun and as lighthearted as the book seems to be thus far.

The use of CGI was pretty good. Percy has control of the water and seeing it heal, abide his command for attack, or form a massive fish fork (trident) is pretty nifty. Lerman does a good job of imagining he is controlling the water. The rest of the action scenes are good. The end battle scene is energetic and spectacular enough. The sword fights (as silly as that sounds) were entertaining even in this day in age with guns and bombs. There is some sort of odd sense of a romantic feeling toward sword fights because they show a since of gentlemen behavior, whereas guns just seem barbaric and lacking in talent of use. Guns are used by those who are selfish and degrading. Swords are used by those who say sir and ma’am and give undo respect to many. Of course that is how it seems, I am well aware of the baddies who sword fight who lack all the qualities I just attributed.

What have I learned? That there’s a good chance of teaching children about mythology in a different manner, maybe those that read ‘Percy Jackson’ will learn something far more than the fact that books are a great source of entertainment. I also learn that there is life after Harry Potter. Ha-ha.

I understand being frustrated with alterations from book to movie, but it’s important to realize that they are different mediums. Enjoy each for what they offer. Enjoy the film for the visual and the audio, the book for the words that compose your imagination. Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Lightning Thief (long name) is an entertaining film that not only does its job, it also inspires the want to pick up a book. Well at least in me it did.

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