Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief (3 stars)

Percy Jackson & The Lightening Thief

Having passed on the Harry Potter directing reigns after the second instalment, Chris Columbus attempts to kick-start another fantasy
franchise with this adaptation of the first book in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and The Olympians series.

Following a revelatory museum trip, teenage schoolboy Jackson (Logan Lerman) discovers he is a demi-god - the son of Poseidon - and is being targeted by Zeus (Sean Bean), who believes he has stolen his bolt of lightning. Forming a triumvirate with satyr protector Grover (Brandon T Jackson) and bland but feisty love interest Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), he sets out to prove his innocence.

Jackson is far ballsier than Potter, standing up to an abusive stepfather (an underused Joe Pantoliano) and trading dainty wands for great big swords. In a nice aside we learn his dyslexia and ADHD actually enhance his powers, although quite what those powers are is never very clear. Occasional voice-overs from his father (Kevin McKidd) conveniently help him out of tricky situations (literally deus ex machina) and at the climax he employs some spectacular watery magic, the use of which would surely have saved him some trouble earlier.

But the modern setting brings a refreshing change to proceedings. Rather than travelling by horse or dragon, our heroes journey between quests in a truck, and Jackson flies using magic sneakers rather than a Quidditch stick. Jumping on a ready-made mythology has also helped relieve the slog of the origin story, making this a lean and lithe effort.

Out now on general release. Thanks to Cineworld Fountain Park, Edinburgh for allowing us to see this film at their cinema.


Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

  • 2010
  • Canada / US
  • 1h 58min
  • PG
  • Directed by: Chris Columbus
  • Cast: Logan Lerman, Brandon T Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Abel, Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, Melina Kanakaredes, Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson, Catherine Keener, Kevin McKidd, Joe Pantoliano, Uma Thurman, Ray Winstone

Big screen adaptation of Rick Riordan's first fantasy adventure novel featuring Greek mythology-baiting child Percy Jackson. Possible franchise? We think so.