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Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

tomatometer

49

Average Rating: 5.3/10
Reviews Counted: 142
Fresh: 70 | Rotten: 72

Though it may seem like just another Harry Potter knockoff, Percy Jackson benefits from a strong supporting cast, a speedy plot, and plenty of fun with Greek mythology.

35

Average Rating: 5.1/10
Critic Reviews: 34
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 22

Though it may seem like just another Harry Potter knockoff, Percy Jackson benefits from a strong supporting cast, a speedy plot, and plenty of fun with Greek mythology.

audience

53

liked it
Average Rating: 3.3/5
User Ratings: 251,691

My Rating

Movie Info

A teenager discovers he's the descendant of a Greek god and sets out on an adventure to settle an on-going battle between the gods.

Jun 29, 2010

$86.7M

20th Century Fox - Official Site External Icon

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Cast

Latest News on Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

June 17, 2011:
Wimpy Kid Director Hired for Percy Jackson Sequel
Thor Freudenthal is on board to direct; Logan Lerman is under contract to star.
March 2, 2011:
Percy Jackson Sequel in Development
The first installment wasn't a huge hit, but Fox 2000 is still eyeing a sequel to "Percy Jackson and...

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All Critics (142) | Top Critics (34) | Fresh (70) | Rotten (72) | DVD (10)

I thought it was mischievous and witty and amusing and I was just sort of drawn into it.

February 16, 2010 Full Review Source: At the Movies | Comments (5)
At the Movies
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's not enough to compensate for the computer-game-style plotting, which is largely based on us picking up narrative nuggets that mechanically slot into place later on.

February 16, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Director Chris Columbus has brought together the modern and mythical spheres with sharp pacing and a nifty sense of fun that atone for the film's dippier moments. It's his most enjoyable effort since Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

February 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle | Comment (1)
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Dutifully Potteresque it begins, and dutifully Potteresque it ends.

February 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Comments (3)
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Has all the CGI sorcery of a Harry Potter pic, but none of the magic.

February 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Percy Jackson, you are no Harry Potter. You are not fit to walk in a hobbit's wake.

February 12, 2010 Full Review Source: Detroit News | Comments (12)
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It provides a great adventure movie for the family audience.

July 31, 2012 Full Review Source: 7M Pictures
7M Pictures

The premise of Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief holds great potential potential the film never realizes.

November 5, 2011 Full Review Source: Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)

Percy Jackson is simply uninspired in every single meaning of the word. It's probably the crassest, most obviously derivative work of this sort since Eragon.

April 25, 2011 Full Review Source: ComingSoon.net | Comment (1)
ComingSoon.net

It kind of just builds up to a lot of Not Much.

April 4, 2011 Full Review Source: Movies.com
Movies.com

Manages to pay its respects to the Greek myths and actually convey them as fun.

August 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Window to the Movies
Window to the Movies

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief proves to be a satisfying beginning to what is sure to be a promising film franchise.

July 17, 2010 Full Review Source: Matt's Movie Reviews
Matt's Movie Reviews

Mildly diverting.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Boston Phoenix
Boston Phoenix

Just another mediocre fantasy flick, but if you enjoyed the books, I'm sure you'll enjoy the film.

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: JoBlo's Movie Emporium | Comments (9)
JoBlo's Movie Emporium

An enjoyable PG-rated family adventure in its own right, but Columbus' film can't live up to the Potter gold standard, and it strays enough from Riordan's source material to make its tween readership blow a gasket every few minutes. [Blu-ray]

July 6, 2010 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews | Comment (1)
Groucho Reviews

Not a perfect film, but the movie does have a certain passion that a lot of other franchise attempts have lacked. If you like Greek mythology and are looking for an antidote to Clash of the Titans, this may be what you're looking for.

July 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

A great family film, with just the right measures of action, mythological allusions, humor, and adventure.

June 30, 2010 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Of all the would-be Potter projects that have hit the screen over the years, this is one of more polished and enjoyable ones.

May 16, 2010 Full Review Source: TheMovieReport.com
TheMovieReport.com

click to read full review

March 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Movies for the Masses
Movies for the Masses

... a sprightly Harry Potter clone and an eye-candy-coated intro to Greek mythology.

March 14, 2010 Full Review Source: Sacramento News & Review | Comment (1)
Sacramento News & Review

While this flick may not have Harry Potter's complex world and multiple layers, it also doesn't have the angst and darkness. It replaces them with one thing in bulk: Fun.

March 5, 2010 Full Review Source: Christianity Today
Christianity Today

Another attempted launch of a teen-aimed franchise, but this show-boat is rowing through the motions. Seen-that, been-there fantasy-epic stuff with dialogue more wooden and hollow than the Trojan Horse.

March 3, 2010 Full Review Source: Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada) | Comments (6)
Vue Weekly (Edmonton, Canada)

What surprised me is that I had some affection for an action adventure film the way I would have in the days of the Ray Harryhausen's best films.

February 24, 2010 Full Review
rec.arts.movies.reviews

A fun, effects-filled, escapist adventure, with several clever notions: Medusa sells garden statuary as a cover, and the Parthenon in Nashville is home to a hydra.

February 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN) | Comments (3)
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

A safe, bland, test-marketed product made for tween mass consumption. Like most films arriving with ampersands and colons in the title, it's a bore.

February 19, 2010 Full Review Source: Tulsa World
Tulsa World

It looks like the characters of color in Percy Jackson have been paired off, a remarkable choice in a movie that is, in essence, about the glories of half-breeds.

February 19, 2010 Full Review Source: PopMatters | Comments (2)
PopMatters

Audience Reviews for Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Once a film franchise has established itself, other similar franchises often follow it, haging on the coattails of its success and trying to cash in by appealing to the same audience. The fantasy genre has been rife with this in recent years, with the huge success of The Lord of the Rings prompting new adaptations of The Chronicles of Narnia as well as smaller works like Stardust and Eragon. Crucially, while the quality of these films varies, none of them quite come close to the series that blazed the trail.

We find ourselves in a similar situation with Percy Jackson. At the time of its release, the Harry Potter series was winding down, with Deathly Hallows Part I in production and Part II not being far behind. Its release date was clearly timed to plug the gap between Potter films, giving teenage fantasy fans something to snack on in between meals. But despite any admiration for the story's intentions and its interesting nods to Greek mythology, the Lightning Thief is ultimately mediocre.

Try as we might, there's no getting around the comparison between Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. No matter how popular the source materials may be among teenage audiences, there is a strong argument that this film would not have been made without the financial success of the Potter franchise. Whatever you may think of them, both Harry Potter and Twilight demonstrated the commercial mileage in teenage/ young adult fantasy films; their consistent commercial success resulted in the likes of Percy Jackson and The Hunger Games being brought to our screens. Without their success, Jennifer Lawrence might still be a nobody.

This comparison becomes all the more inevitable by the involvement of Chris Columbus, who directed the first two Potter films (Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets) before transitioning into a production role on Prisoner of Azkaban. While the Potter series really took off after Alfonso Cuarón took over the reins, Columbus has since failed to replicate his earlier successes, turning in embarrasing failures like Rent and I Love You, Beth Cooper. One could almost view his involvement here as a form of regret, trying to atone for what he sees as a mistake (though almost no-one else shares his view).

There's no denying that Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief comes at you with the very best intentions. However good or bad its execution, it deserves some credit for attempting a noble task, namely trying to repackage the classic Greek Myths to inspire a new generation. From this point of view the film is attempting the very same thing that Mark Gatiss and Stephen Moffat attempted with Sherlock, or that Kenneth Branagh was doing when he made his great Shakespeare adaptations.

In each case, the creative forces behind the projects recognise the hardy nature of the tales they are telling: the Greek Myths are as indelible and influential a force on our culture as Sherlock Holmes, Shakespeare or Count Dracula. But equally, the creative parties recognise that young people will not fall in love with these stories purely on the basis of their reputations: they have to be told these stories in a way which resonates with the world in which they find themselves. These stories are to be respected, but they have to earn that respect by being brought to life in a compelling and imaginative way.

Unfortunately, while their intentions may be similar, that is where the comparison ends as far as Percy Jackson is concerned. For all the times that Branagh has slipped up, and all the complaints I have lodged against Sherlock in recent times, Columbus has never come close to matching their talents or aspirations. He is at his most basic level a bean-counter, someone who directs with an eye on the box office rather than the storytelling, and who will purposefully compromise the finished product to avoid the wrath of fans. By attempting to cram in every last detail of the book, Chamber of Secrets ended up being overly long and frequently tedious.

There are a number of nice little touches throughout Percy Jackson which succeed in bringing elements of the Greek Myths to life. It makes perfect sense that the winged sandals of Perseus would now be winged sneakers: both reflect the agility of their central protagonist in a popular manner. It also makes sense for the Den of the Lotus Eaters to be a Las Vegas casino: both are symbols of the power of greed and the dangers of valuing material satisfation over higher virtues. These touches aren't that different from the changes made in Sherlock, retaining the nature of the source material in a way that fans will recongise.

These touches are also reflected in the film's casting. Uma Thurman is usually very wooden, but she's very well-cast as Medusa; if nothing else her lingering delivery comes across a lot better than her work as Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin. Sean Bean is the natural choice for Zeus, exuding charisma even though he doesn't have a great deal to do in the story. Steve Coogan also makes the most of Hades, though he's very much in the shadow of James Woods, who gave a memorable performance in Hercules.

The problem, however, with Percy Jackson is that these nice little touches are not always executed with enough panache. It's all very well having nods to mythology here and there, but if these nods are not combined with a compelling story, or integrated into it, then all they amount to is a pretty surface, like delicate patterns of milk on a cold cup of burnt coffee. Columbus simply isn't good enough to use these creative elements to lift the more generic aspects of the plot, resulting in a film which isn't memorable enough to stand on its own.

Much of the problem lies in the film's uninspiring CGI. Like any other kind of special effect, CGI is at its most effective when we're unable or unwilling to tell where the real world ends and the make-believe begins. If any one kind of effect is overused, it draws attention to itself and the suspension of disbelief is compromised. Percy Jackson suffers greatly from this, turning to CGI whenever the mood takes it and thereby coming across as rather cheap.

A lot of the effects in Percy Jackson are really poor. On several shots of Pierce Brosnan's centaur body, you can still see the rough brushstrokes where the CG artists finished the colouring process too quickly. Steve Coogan's transformations into Hades don't feel properly to scale, and in the museum battle the monster keeps changings size according to the demands of a given shot. There's nothing quite as horrendous here as in, say, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, but errors like this really take us out of the drama.

As for the drama itself, it's rather tepid. Effects notwithstanding, the set-pieces in the film are pretty exciting and don't outstay their welcome. But the dramatic exchanges in-between are where the film retreats into generic convection and often gets bogged down. The script comes from Craig Titley, whose other credits include the first Scooby-Doo movie and episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In other words, he's much better at effects-laden set-pieces than character drama, and this film is crying out for more of the latter.

Much like I Love You, Beth Cooper, the main characters in Percy Jackson feel less like actual teenagers and more like outdated Hollywood stereotypes. They're far less obnoxious than their Beth Cooper counterparts, but they're still thinly written with not enough room for development. The three main players make a decent fist of their roles, and it's refreshing to have a female character whose relationship with her male counterparts isn't defined solely in terms of a potential romance. But ultimately there's nothing about Percy, Grover or Annabeth that's as memorable or entertaining as Harry, Ron and Hermione.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief is a disappointing and derivative blockbuster, whose admirable intentions are undone by leaden direction and lazy screenwriting. For all the little moments which successfully bring the Greek Myths to life, the film doesn't have enough dramatic energy to sustain itself, and its poor effects work against the power of its set-pieces. It's not terrible by any means, but it won't dislodge Potter from its perch any time soon.
January 28, 2014
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

I had no idea there were so many kids books that could be made into films, they just keep popping up every year after Harry Potter opened the flood gates, and still none can compare to the kid with specs. This is close and probably the best rival yet but whilst watching I was still thinking of Potter, 'Clash of the Titans' and 'The Chronicles of Narnia', unfortunately for this film you just can't help but compare it to these films/stories and wonder if its just come along too late in the day.

The film did get better as it went on but the acting is kinda average. Its a bit too silly in places with dumb lines, lame visual gags and apart from a great Hydra sequence the film is visually kinda average. The secret hidden camp where all the 'special' people train looks pathetic, like a Scout camp you would go to over the summer holidays, plus it only seemed about a 5min walk from a main road in the film? hardly well hidden. The best part as said was the Hydra attack, brilliant CGI with that sequence and really well played out, not really tense as you know no one will die (kids film!!) but its the best bit on offer, the rest ticks along steadily I guess.

I'll say it again, the problem here is all the time your watching you can't help but think you've seen this all before. There's nothing new or special, its all been done now...quite a few times, so why make another film about the same kinda stuff?. Its never gonna beat Potter and this just seems rather repetitive I'm afraid. Shame because had it come out ten years ago it would of done much better I'm sure and not come across so stale.

Hate to mention Harry flipping Potter so much but really...how can I not do? look at the title for pete's sake!. An awkward modern day setting for Greek mythology which works on some levels but fails on many others. The whole Medusa sequence with a dreadfully miscast Uma Thurman pretty much solidifies this if you ask me, the whole thing just doesn't feel right at all.
December 17, 2013
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

The first installment in the Percy Jackson franchise is a mere vessel, to show the fans what the background is. It was not to wow the audiences with pure action, even though it is entertaining 100% of the time. I actually recieved exactly what I wanted out of this movie. The movie takes you on a ride that is actually fun to take. Percy Jackson and the olympians: The Lightning Thief is a very good storytelling popcorn movie, if that makes sense. To top it off, Logan Lerman plays the charater to perfection. I have seen his acting before, but his talent has severely improved. The comedy, action, and thrills all work well together to make this a must see for enjoyment. It may not be the best film in the world, but when you have a film (even if a little cheesy) entertain as much as this, you know you are doing something right.
August 7, 2013
KJ Proulx

Super Reviewer

    1. Gabe Ugliano: Woman!
    2. Sally Jackson: Hi Gabe.
    3. Gabe Ugliano: Where's my beer?
    4. Sally Jackson: It's in the fridge.
    5. Gabe Ugliano: So it's suppposed to magically float from the ice box and into my hand?
    – Submitted by Criselle M (18 months ago)
    1. Luke: Wow...that's a sword, that's a sword.
    – Submitted by Shin D (22 months ago)
    1. Mr. Brunner/Chiron: Take this, it is a powerful weapon.
    2. Percy Jackson: This is a pen.
    3. Percy Jackson: WOW.
    – Submitted by Andrew C (23 months ago)
    1. Zeus: What do you see?
    2. Poseidon: Thunderclouds.
    3. Zeus: With no lightning. Stolen.
    – Submitted by Typhon Q (23 months ago)
    1. Grover: Hey baby!
    – Submitted by Cancelled U (2 years ago)
    1. Mr. Brunner/Chiron: Percy take this, it's a powerful weapon.
    2. Percy Jackson: This is a pen?
    – Submitted by Daniel R (2 years ago)
View all quotes (8)

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