Luke gives Percy a paired of winged black high top chucks.
Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is a normal teenager, but just a little special. He’s most comfortable in water. He has ADHD and is dyslexic. And his stepfather (Joe Pantoliano) is an abusive slovenly drunk. Meanwhile, Zeus (Sean Bean) and Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) meet atop the Empire State Building, secret gateway to Olympus! Zeus’s master lightning bolt (implying that he has auxiliary bolts) has been stolen. If the bolt is not returned by midnight on the solstice, he will make war that will destroy Earth! On a routine field trip to a museum, Percy is attacked by a Furie! His handicapped best friend, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), tosses aside his crutches to reveal he’s a Satyr! Soon after, Percy’s mom, Sally (Catherine Keener), and Grover whisk Percy away. It seems the gods and their magical monsters think Percy has the bolt because he is the demigod son of Poseidon (information Percy absorbs without any real response). A minotaur kidnaps Sally once they arrive at their location, Camp Half-Blood. Basically, it’s Hogwarts for demigods.
Percy discovers that he actually is the son of the Greek god Poseiden.
At demigod camp, Percy learns that he’s always had godlike talents. His dyslexia really means his mind is “wired for Ancient Greek” (which is a tremendous detriment in 21st century America) and his ADHD means he’s always ready for action, to fight (revealing a fundamental misunderstanding of ADHD on the writer’s part). He can also heal himself with water, which is stupid. He meets Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), daughter of Athena. She’s the camp’s best warrior, meaning that once she falls for Percy all of her skills will suddenly fail her so she doesn’t upstage the star of the film. Then, Hades appears. He offers his nephew an exchange: the bolt for his mother back. Percy reasons that if he goes to the Underworld personally to explain that he doesn’t have the bolt, Hades will give him back his mother. Grover and Annabeth decide to join him for the adventure. First, they get some items from Luke (Jake Abel), a fellow camper and son of Hermes. He’s stolen some stuff from his father, including a pair of winged chucks and a super-shield. The fact that this does not set off any alarms among our heroes is truly remarkable.
Percy opens the box containing the winged black high top chucks.
The adventure begins! The goal: Our heroes have to get three pearls (one each) to use to teleport out of the Underworld for after they get there. One pearl per interesting location. On the way, they’re attacked by monsters who want the bolt. First, they stop at a garden shop in New Jersey, where they’re attacked by Medusa (Uma Thurman)! Percy cuts off her head easily. This should be shocking and horrible, cutting off a woman’s head and all, but that’s just what you do with Medusa’s head, isn’t it? So, they continue onward to the Parthenon in Nashville. There, they fight a hydra. This is where Medusa’s head comes in handy. Next, Las Vegas, where they are trapped by the faceless lotus eaters for five days that feel like two hours. Last, the Underworld, which, of course, is in Hollywood. Not Los Angeles. The specific neighborhood of “Hollywood.” Get it? In the Underworld, Percy meets Hades (Steve Coogan) and his wife Persephone (Rosario Dawson). It is revealed that the bolt has been in the shield Luke gave him this whole time. Persephone tricks Hades, and allows Percy to keep the bolt and take his mother before sending the group on their way. At the Empire State, minutes from the deadline, our heroes are attacked by Luke! A final fight scene breaks out. Percy wins, obviously. And there’s some touching scenes with the gods (all parents who have abandoned their mortal kids) on Olympus. Epilogue: Percy will have more adventures in the future.
Percy goes to remove a blue pearl from a statue of Athena.
Percy Jackson and Lightning Thief is a film for a very narrow audience, the teen fans of the popular book series. Adults will find it insipid. Teens and children who aren’t fans of the book will be detached from its heavy reliance on name-dropping figures from Greek mythology. Young kids who have never seen an action movie may like the action and effects, but they are very undemanding. The biggest problem is the main hero is completely unremarkable. His flaws are explained as attributes, which is disingenuous but reflects our ultra-coddling society. Without flaws, he can’t grow. He’s just given power, and never shows a sense of responsibility. It’s like he knows he’s in a kids action movie. And, Percy is played without any sort of charisma or personality by Lerman. Worst, this character is placed in an extremely cliché, unsurprising origin story. There’s no wit, just “jokes” and one-liners. There’s tons of mugging from Jackson, the Satyr, who really, really hammers it in that he is quote-unquote Black. You want him to shut up, or at least tone it down, but he never does. It is has absolutely no greater appeal, though. It has no charm, no wit, and certainly no depth. This world is nothing but cheesy effects and PG fight scenes. Nothing’s really at stake. Who cares if this privileged jerk succeeds? The entire film is just entertainment product for a juvenile audience. It is a well-produced product, however. Director Chris Columbus knows how to make these films. And no doubt, it will appeal to those who have read the book. At its best, this is passable entertainment, which is not high praise. Like Eragon and The Golden Compass before it, this thankfully promises to be another one-film franchise.
With his winged black high top chucks, sword and shield, Percy becomes quite a warrior.
Percy laces up the winged chucks for the first time.
Luke gives Percy winged chucks, which he can use to fly. They’re like Hermes’ winged sandals, only chucks to both pander to a young, active audience and to make it clear that this is set in our modern times. Percy laces his super-chucks to battle the hydra and in the climatic, CGI sky battle with Luke. Unrealistically, he laces them up instantly (as opposed to a solid 30 seconds or so).
Percy flying through the air in his winged chucks.
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