Percy Jackson: also known as Americas answer to Harry Potter. The director, Chris Columbus, also directed the first two Potter movies, so it seemed like he was a natural choice for this. And what an excellent decision.
With relatively unknown leads and a constant comparison with the boy wizard, Jackson was estimated to be a modest success, possibly just about breaking even. I hope this prediction is wrong, as it deserves to be seen by fans of Harry and, well, all children over the age of 11.
Percy Jackson is a painfully average student. He has ADHD and dyslexia, and has a step father who treats his mum terribly. His life is drastically changed though when he discovers that he is a Demi-God, the product of a God and a human. His father is Poseidon, God of the sea. Rather than the news being broken to him over a civil conversation, he discovers the hard way as his teacher turns into a “fury”: a winged creature that would even be scary in a 15 rated movie. His other teacher, and Centaur named Chiron, Pierce Brosnan (as a character, not himself…) informs him that he is a Demi-God, and that Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen. Percy is the main culprit, which in its self is a bit of a plot hole as he had no idea of his status.
Anyway, it’s up to Percy to find the bolt at take it to Olympus, which can be reached by an elevator in the Empire State Building. He has a 14 day deadline, but the sub plot of his mother being held by Hades (played by the genius Steve Coogan in a patchy role; there are flashes of Coogan brilliance and other times where you know he’s simply reading the script) in the Underworld makes Percy’s task more difficult, and ultimately increases the films runtime. Which is apparently 2 hours, but it certainly didn’t seem that long; it is a highly engaging movie that isn’t just for children.
That’s partly due to some of the script, and also down to some of the monsters being a little too scary. They all come straight from Greek Mythology, but Columbus has brought them into the modern world, entwining the legends with popular culture. The lotus flowers and casino scene is an incredibly clever segment, even putting Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” to good use. But all the scene culminations are great; Medusa, Hydras and all the Gods feature here. And they all look amazing. The effects are top notch, excusing a few occasions when Medusa’s head of snakes seems a little too realistic.
The characters were believeable, even in their fantasy roles. However, the Anna-Beth character was a little inconsistent. At “Camp Half Blood ” (the Demi-Gods equivalent of Hogwarts, but also sounds like an insult) she decimates everyone, and is amazingly battle aware during Capture The Flag. On many occasions she boasts about how great she is at strategy etc, but when it actually comes down to it (the main action scenes), she rarely gives an input. But when they return back to the camp, she is laying waste to all the Demi-God peasants who kneel before her power.
But that really is a minor issue in a film that succeeds on so many levels. It is far from perfect, but that doesn’t stop it being great entertainment. He may be a suspect in the case of the stolen lightbolt, but Percy Jackson is guilty of taking the Film Of The Week spot.