Aside from some non-PG-rated emphasis on an abusive home life and a lot of underwhelming CGI, Percy Jackson is a well-paced kids’ action picture that flirts with Greek mythology to create its otherworldly spectacle.
Rising child star Logan Lerman plays Percy, a Manhattan teenager living with his mom, Sally (Catherine Keener), and her less-than-desirable boyfriend, Gabe (Joe Pantoliano). During a school trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Percy discovers that he's the demigod son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd). It seems that the Lord of the Seas had a fling with Percy's mortal mother.
Someone has made off with the lightening rod that Zeus uses to control the heavens.
Needless to say, the King of Olympus is plenty steamed about it. Believing Percy to be the thief, Zeus dictates that the bolt must be returned before the approaching solstice if an apocalyptic war with Hades (Steve Coogan) is to be avoided. Percy's wheelchair-bound teacher Chiron (Pierce Brosnan) accompanies him to a camp for demigods, where Percy hones his fighting skills.
Director Chris Columbus and his crew take a literal approach to spectacle that denies the magnificent use of weirdness and scale that famed stop-action animator Ray Harryhausen brought to such myth-inspired classics as Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and Clash of the Titans (1981). To think that child audiences in 1963 had a far more earth-shattering theater experience than today's young viewers will have with Percy Jackson speaks to the effect that Harry Potter films have had on reconfiguring what's expected of this kind of picture. Grade: B-
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