Lightning lacking in unoriginal ‘Jackson’

By Nora Drapalski


In the wake of the wildly successful film adaptations of the young adult series “Harry Potter,” the big wigs in Hollywood have been dying to produce the next big hit series. Summit Entertainment got a taste of that success after their release of the “Twilight” films. Now, Fox is hoping to cash in with the debut of their new film, “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.”

“Percy Jackson” targets a young teenybopper audience, offering innocent love, short action sequences and a simple, quest-based plot. Throw in a cheesy, one-liner sidekick and supernatural powers, and “Percy Jackson” has all of the elements of a successful family film.

Unfortunately, this train does not seem bound for Hogwarts. In fact, this train does not seem bound for any form of success.

Partially due to its release date (Valentine’s Day weekend), “Percy Jackson” is lacking the financial success of its competitors; its unoriginal plotline seems to blame. The typical story of the awkward teen-turned-hero who saves the world is so horribly overdone that audiences looking for something new and original could easily pass over “Percy Jackson.”

Comprised of a mix of seasoned veterans and fresh-faced novices, the cast assists in adding depth to the film. Although certainly not new to the silver screen, Logan Lerman makes pulls in his first starring role as the titular Percy Jackson. Lerman certainly shines on the screen as a competent actor, pulling off his performance with seeming effortlessness.

Sean Bean and Pierce Brosnan unite once again 15 years after their work together in “GoldenEye.” This time, however, 006 and 007 play two supporting roles as Zeus and Chiron, respectively. Joining them is Kevin McKidd (“Grey’s Anatomy”) as Poseidon, Catherine Keener (“Where the Wild Things Are”), as Percy’s mother, Steve Coogan (“Night at the Museum”) as Hades and Uma Thurman (“Kill Bill”) as Medusa.

However, these experienced actors merely serve as plot devices, as Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson and Alexandra Daddario steal the limelight. Jackson co-stars as Grover, the comedic sidekick and guardian of Percy Jackson. Daddario flexes her muscles as Annabeth, the love interest of our new hero. While neither actor exhibits stunning acts by any means, both Jackson and Daddario deliver solid performances given the script they were dealt.

 “Percy” is likely to capture the attention of the same kids who fell for “Twilight.” With it’s exploration of the exotic world of classical mythology – a remerging film topic sweeping America over the past few years (“Troy” and the upcoming remake of “Clash of the Titans”) – the film seems to cash in on a current fad.

To Classicists, however, the film is both a source of salvation and condemnation. “Percy Jackson” encourages the study of Greek mythology in a society where the subject is not considered useful for practical application. At the same time, the film so bastardizes the Classics that it takes a concerted effort to prevent a cringe from creeping over your face.

There are a few things the movie gets right: Zeus, Poseidon and Hades all sport beards; beings like Medusa, the Hydra and the Lotus Eaters did exist; and indeed, the gods were quite promiscuous.

From there, though, “Percy Jackson” is so entirely inaccurate that it seems a sin to suggest there is anything correct in the first place. On a shallow level, the film is entertaining and engaging. Barring Thurman’s head rolling around on the ground and seeing McKidd back in armor (Poseidon never looked so good), there is little any adult would find humorous – still, the two hours go by rather quickly. If you really want to know the story, read the book and skip the movie. After that, pick up a real book on classical mythology and see how the big kids do it.

Nora Drapalski can be reached at [email protected]