Belfast Telegraph

Friday 30 January 2015

Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief: reader review

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is just an ordinary teenager who doesn’t do very well in school but can do extraordinary things such as hold his breath under water for 7 minutes.

One day on a field trip to an Ancient History museum, he is attacked by a Fury who demands to know where the Zeus’ lightning bolt is. And just like that, Percy Jackson finds himself thrust into a world of Ancient Greek legend and myth that still thrives in the 21st Century. Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen and he blames Jackson’s father and his brother – Poseidon (Kevin McKidd). War is imminent unless the bolt is returned to Zeus (Sean Bean) and Percy Jackson is going to have to make a trip to hell and back to solve the theft for which he has been blamed. Trained by Chiron (Pierce Brosnan) and accompanied by his guard Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) and love interest Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario), Jackson and friends set off on a quest to save his mother from Hades (Steve Coogan) who has captured her in order to find out the location of the lightning bolt. They encounter legendary creatures such as the Hydra and Uma Thurman (Medusa). As the three become friends and learn how to deal with their powers as demi-Gods, the question remains as to how will they catch the lightning thief in time and clear Jackson’s name.

I love Ancient Greek and Roman history and literature and as such was very sceptical of a film about Greek deities being set in the 21st Century. In my opinion, Ancient Greek religion died out almost 2 millennia ago when people stopped believing in those Gods. Therefore, a film about Greek gods and heroes should be set in no other time but its own where they really did make the world a magical place. I’m very much looking forward to the upcoming ‘Clash of the Titans’ which does exactly that and promises to be a real epic.

However, ‘The Lightning Thief’ failed to be the amazing quest it promised to be. It was definitely fun and kids are going to love it. Yet this movie was not really a kid’s movie, despite its ‘PG’ rating. It is definitely aimed at adults and particularly those who know something of Greek history. And these people it will upset. Whilst it is interesting to see what characters the story has incorporated and mentioned, in bringing them into the current day setting it fails miserably in capturing any of their grandeur and menace. It also detracts from the supernatural atmosphere and tries to be too clever in creating this setting.

There are lots of familiar faces in this movie and it is just a pity that with a selection of renowned actors such as Sean Bean and Pierce Brosnan etc, they couldn’t make ‘The Lightning Thief’ a better film and use their talents instead of wasting them. The movie also tries to have a serious undertone and discusses the subject of the Gods abandoning their half-breed children and how the kids have to cope. However, this also isn’t very effective and climaxes in a ridiculous ending which is an aptly fitting close to this poor attempt at bringing legend to life.

All in all, you may enjoy ‘Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief’ but I felt it was more of a Greek Tragedy then an Epic and quite a disappointment. Unfortunately, this story is the first in a series of 5 so expect sequels. Hopefully they can make them more entertaining and really improve on the quality of this recent release.

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