Percy Jackson
& the Olympians:
The Lightning Thief

Dir: Chris Columbus
Star: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Abel

And now the Harry Potter knock-offs start. Stop me if you've heard this one before. Apparently normal, but not exactly happy kid, living with a bullying foster-dad, suddenly discovers his magical inheritance - the result of a coupling between a human mother and supernaturally awesome father. He gets sent off to be educated in the way of his kind, alongside others his age, under a kindly, bearded elder (shown, right). That leads him and his two friends - one boy, one girl - into a series of epic adventures trying to prevent dark forces from threatening the world. This one's major defining characteristic is that it lobs it all into the milieu of the Greek gods; presumably, because they are in the public domain, and so can't sue the author for plagiarism. Meanwhile, the studio get the man who directed the first two Potter movies to take this one on. Really, Hollywood: could you be any less subtle? Or any less loud? It's like Harry Potter done by Michael Bay.

The results are about as lukewarm as you'd expect. While I like both Sean Bean and Steve Coogan (and they're about the best things this has to offer, acting-wise), in terms of British Isles thespians, they're hardly Alan Rickman and Richard Harris. Even more obviously, the three kids are no patch on Radcliffe and Co, with Jackson particularly irritating as a home-boy version of Ron Weasley, with hooves - which is as awful as you would imagine. Occasionally the visual style is nice, for example with the snake-haired Gorgon, which is cool and nicely over-acted, by one of the special guests who crop up with the frequency of a Saturday Night Live sketch. But the potential of having Greek gods and their offspring operating in the modern world is never more than scratched, with a hint that President Obama might be one about as far as it goes. While I've heard the books are better than the movie, there's not much here to encourage anyone to read them.

[August 2011]

Parry Hotter and the Dumbledore knockoff
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