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Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief

Revie by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

CHRIS Columbus has some great children’s hits and franchise starts under his belt, having directed the first two Home Alone and Harry Potter movies. Who better then to launch another franchise, this time based on a series of popular US fantasy books by Rick Riordan?

The answer, quite simply, is no one. Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief is a fun, if utterly ridiculous, teen adventure that boasts plenty of promise for future instalments.

Expertly combining elements of Greek mythology with modern pop culture references as well as the obligatory teenager coming to terms with special powers and responsibilities, the film is tailor-made to appeal to the Harry Potter/Twilight audience… as well as a few older viewers besides!

Part of the fun lies in the imaginative special effects, which take in everything from the snake-haired Medusa to Minotaurs, and which come thick and fast. But there’s a knowing sense of its own absurdity that makes it less serious than some of the other franchises we’ve mentioned.

The story is pure hokum. Teen rebel Percy Jackson (played by Logan Lerman) is going nowhere fast until he discovers that he’s a demigod with sword-swinging powers and the child of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd).

When he is accused of stealing the prized lightning bolt of Zeus (Sean Bean), and his mother (Catherine Keener) is kidnapped by Hades (Steve Coogan) as a bargaining chip to get it himself, Percy must set out to prove his innocence and recover the stolen object.

With the help of Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), the daughter of Athena, and his personal protector Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), a satyr, Percy sets off on a quest to recover a series of trinkets that will enable him first to travel to the underworld to recover his mum and then to find out who is responsible and bargain with Zeus.

Admittedly, Columbus’ film doesn’t stand up to much scrutiny and is packed with cheesy sentiment, unwanted product placement and some onerous pop culture references (a sequence in Vegas is one of a handful that backfire). But it wins you over thanks to the charisma of its appealing cast (young and old) and the fun contained within its set pieces.

Lerman, in particular, makes a charismatic lead and is given able support by Jackson and Daddario, as well as from the likes of Uma Thurman (suitably slippery as the Medusa), Keener, McKidd and even Pierce Brosnan (who just about overcomes early laughs as a chiron.

But the real joy is to be found in the numerous set pieces, which arrive thick and fast and which boast genuinely high-quality effects. If you’re prepared to just go with the flow and believe that Mount Olympus could really be located at the top of New York’s Empire State Building, then you’re in for quite a ride.

Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief is fast, frivolous and entertaining enough to appeal to not just boys… but the boy in every man!

Certificate: PG
Running time: 101mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: July 5, 2010