Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (DVD)

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Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief Arrives on the Big Screen

Mar 4, 2010 (Updated Jun 1, 2011)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Fun, entertaining movie overall. Good cast.

Cons:Snakes at one point.  Some things don't work as well.

The Bottom Line: Percy Jackson & The Olympians has some issues, but it works as a fun, entertaining movie overall.


I've been interested in seeing Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief since I first started seeing previews.  I just had the chance to see the movie, right after having read The Lightning Thief.

The only thing Percy Jackson is good at is staying underwater for a long time and ticking off Gabe, the rude, foul man his mother married.  He and his only friend Grover attend the same school.  During a field trip, some really weird things happen that cause Percy to go on the run with Grover and his mother.  He finds out that he is a half blood or demigod because his father is one of the gods.  His life is in danger because Zeus and several of the others believe that he stole Zeus's lightning bolt.  Percy ends up at Camp Half Blood, a special protected place where the children of the gods train and learn how to be heros.  Percy decides to head out to deal with the situation.  Grover and Annabeth, one of the other demigods at camp, go with him.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief is based on The Lightning Thief, the first book in the five book Percy Jackson & The Olympians series.  I only just finished reading The Lightning Thief, so I was very aware of the changes while watching the movie.  Some of them at least made a bit of sense, while I'm still not sure why some other things were done.  Some scenes from the book that seemed rather important are missing and other completely new scenes have been added.  A few characters end up doing different things.  The main plot does still deal with Zeus's lightning bolt being missing, but it has been simplified and certain elements are missing.  That does make the story a bit weaker in my opinion, and makes things more predictable.

The first few minutes of Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief quickly establishes that the gods are involved in what is happening and even which god is Percy's father.  The theft of the lightning bolt comes out at that point as well.  I think it might have worked better if that information came out a bit later in the movie, like was done with the book, instead of being shared right off the bat.  That really eliminates any chance for some mystery.  The plot of the book isn't that complex but it has still been dumbed down for the movie.  I do think the movie is entertaining overall.  I just think it would have been better if the plot was stronger.  A small amount of humor turns up every so often, usually from things connected to Grover in some way.

I had expected mythology and the gods to play a bigger role in Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.  It isn't so much that I thought the gods would turn up every few scenes, but I at least expected more information connected to them to be shared.  In the book, a lot of that type of information is shared throughout it.  Unfortunately, that really doesn't happen in the movie.  Only the bare minimum of things connected to mythology is shared which is disappointing.  In some scenes, even Annabeth and Grover seem clueless about things that they should have known.  

Action turns up in several scenes throughout Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.  Percy, Grover, and Annabeth end up in some rather dangerous situations that they have to fight their way out of.  The violence in those scenes isn't that graphic, though a few things could be a bit disturbing to some viewers.  At one point, they deal with Medusa and I really didn't need to see as much of her as I did.  That part was in the book, though the sequence is extended in the movie.  I know the snakes of her hair are CGI, but they still freaked me out and I had to close my eyes.  I just don't deal well with any sort of snakes in movies.  I'm sure that CGI has been used for other things in the movie as well.  A few characters have some more unique body parts that I think had to have been done with CGI.  Those things were done well and make those body parts look realistic.   Some of the locations the characters visit were more than likely created with CGI as well.  

When I read the book, I noticed several things that I thought were similar to the Harry Potter books.  I still saw some in Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, though a few of them aren't as noticeable in the movie.  The biggest similarity is that Percy finds out things about himself and ends up dealing with some unusual things.  He ends up dealing with gods instead of wizards, but he does deal with dangerous things with two friends.  Once he knows that his father is a god, he ends up at a special camp with other demigods to train and learn.  The camp does seem a bit like Hogwarts.  The movie is even directed by Christopher Columbus, the same man who directed the first two Harry Potter movies.  I didn't mind the similarities, but it would have been nice if things were more original.

None of the characters in Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief are developed that much since really not that much is shared about them overall.  Percy has had issues in school and even at home because of his jerk stepfather.  He has to deal with a lot of rather strange things in a fairly short time, and he usually handles that well.  Logan Lerman is fine in the part.  Percy's mother Sally is only in a few scenes, so Catherine Keener doesn't have as much to do.  Joe Pantoliano does a good job as Gabe, the rude, vile man Sally married.

Annabeth is one of the demigods at camp who is very tough and good at fighting.  Grover has been going to the same school with Percy.  It turns out he has a connection to the world of the gods as well, though he isn't a demigod.  Alexandra Daddario and Brandon T. Jackson are fine in the parts.  In the book, Percy and Grover finish sixth grade just before Percy finds out about his father and goes to the camp.  In the movie, they are in school, though the grade isn't shared.  It is clear that they and Annabeth are older.  That change didn't bother me as much.

Luke is another demigod at the camp who does some things to help Percy.  Jake Abel is fine in the part, though he doesn't get a lot to do with the part.  Various characters from mythology do turn up throughout the movie without doing a whole lot.  Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades all have a few scenes without any of them doing that much.  Sean Bean is alright as Zeus, though he does come off more like a spoiled child at times.  Kevin McKidd and Steve Coogan are fine as Poseidon and Hades.  Rosario Dawson does well as Persephone even though she is barely in the movie.  Uma Thurman does a good job as Medusa.  Pierce Brosnan does very well with his dual role.

Main Cast

Alexandra Daddario - Annabeth
Brandon T. Jackson - Grover
Logan Lerman - Percy Jackson

Christopher Columbus - Director

I didn't like all the changes from the book, but I still enjoyed Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief overall.  People who enjoyed the book may also find something to like about the movie.

This review is part of CaptainD's Good Movies EpiGuide 3 Write Off.

*This review was orignally posted after I saw the movie in the theater. It is now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians
The Lightning Thief ~ The Sea of Monsters ~ The Titan’s Curse ~ The Battle of the Labyrinth ~ The Last Olympian ~


Recommend this product? Yes


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