The Harry Potter franchise was a lot to answer for. After it’s incredible commercial success any book series that covers vaguely similar ground got pushed into production. In the case of the clunkily titled Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief it bears more than a passing resemblance to the boy wizard from Surrey, and directed by Chris Columbus the opening film has all the twinkly, saccharine-sweet effect of the first two unbearable Harry Potter films.
Eponymous Percy (Logan Lerman) is just a normal kid (although he’s obviously not, anyone whose name precedes words like Olympian and lightning in a title is obvious more) who discovers that he is actually the offspring of an affair between his mum (Catherine Keener) and the God of the Sea Poseidon (Kevin McKidd). While coming to terms with his Demigod status, the God of the Underworld Hades (Steve Coogan) steals one of Zeus’ lightning bolts and only Percy can piece together the clues and save Mount Olympus, which is actually just above the clouds over Manhattan (of course it is).
Being a Columbus film the strong narrative drive is that regardless of who you are, we all crave parental support and love. Not necessarily a bad message for a family film like this, but in the hands of the overly-sentimental director of Home Alone it becomes are rather unbearable experience. The plot sees Percy as he follows a series of clues that unlock the next stage of the adventure. It is very much like the pattern of a computer game and as anyone who plays games knows, it’s rarely fun to watch someone else play.
Using the source material by Rick Riordan allows for plenty of ˜actors’ chewing scenery as the Olympians, hence we get Sean Bean (Zeus), Uma Thurman (Medusa) and Rosario Dawson (Persephone) who all get involved at various stages. The fact that none of them seem to be having fun just adds to the mirthless feel of the whole film. For fans of the Harry Potter films, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief will seem like a pale comparison, but in reality it is about as entertaining as the first two installments of that franchise, which is not a compliment.