If your son is the thief, I will send him to the depths of Tartarus. He must return the bolt to me in 14 days, by midnight on the summer solstice…. or there will be war” as Jason’s Movie Blog goes back to Greek Myths for the “cinematic flashback” review of 2010’s Percy Jack & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.


“Worlds Collide”

Director: Chris Colombus

Writer: Craig Titley

Starring: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Sean Bean, Kevin McKidd, and Pierce Brosnan

Run Time: 119 minutes

Release Date: February 12th, 2010

Rated: PG


It’s the 21 Century, but the old myths and legends of the Greek Olympian Gods (and other Greek Mythology lore) are real. Zeus (Sean Bean), the kingly God of all the Olympians, meets with his brother, Poseidon (Kevin McKidd), God of the Seas, atop the Empire State Building, with the pair discussing the Zeus’s recent lightning bolt that was stolen, placing the blame on Poseidon’s demigod son as the culprit. If Zeus doesn’t get his “master mold” bolt back in two weeks, there will be an all-out-war amongst the Gods. Elsewhere, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) Is an average teenager, who is trying to survive high school like the rest of his fellow peers. However, when sudden monster attack awakens his powers, Percy soon realizes that he is demigod son to Poseidon and that spells doom for his current situation. Fleeing from danger, Percy’s mom (Catherine Keener) is suddenly kidnapped and disappears, while his best friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) turns out a satyr and his wheelchair-bound teacher is actually Chiron (Pierce Brosnan), a prolithic and scholarly centaur, as Percy whisked away to the secluded Camp Half Blood, a safe haven for Greek demigods to hone their skills.  Once in Camp Half Blood, Percy meets a host of other Greek demigods, including Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), the demi-god daughter of Athena and Luke Castellan (Jake Abel), the demigod son of Hermes. It is also there that Percy finds out about Zeus’s missing lightning bolt and how he has been accused of absconding it and that Hades (Steve Coogan), God of the Underworld, believes that Percy is in possession of it and looking to make a deal with the young demigod in exchange for his mom, who is now his prisoner. Looking to rescue his mom and clear his name, Percy, alongside Grover and Annabeth, leave Camp Half Blood and journey across the country to the gates of the Underworld, discovering and evading various enemies and creatures, while also hopefully uncover the true thief to Zeus’s bolt.


During the mid to late 2000s, the success of the Harry Potter films was the beginning to be seeing as a lucrative business at the box office, raking millions worldwide and garnishing a long-running franchise of which Warner Bros. Studios banked heavily on into a film series juggernaut. So, following in its wake, several Hollywood Studios began to buy up the rights to another famous / popular YA (Young Adult or some might call it YR for Young Readers), including C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), Phillip Pullman’s The Golden Compass (2007’s The Golden Compass), Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising (2007’s The Seeker), Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart (2008’s Inkheart), and Christopher Paolini’s Eragon (2006’s Eragon) just to name a few. However, while not all, most of these film adaptation endeavors received mixed to negative reviews from critics and moviegoers; finding them to be only producing one or two films and cancelling the potential franchise tag that the studios longed. One of these projects came in the form of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, a 2010 film that is based on author Rick Riordan’s bestselling novel of the same name. With an extremely popular fandom in Riordan’s literary work and the potential movie franchise that lay before 20th Century Fox, who bought the film rights, The Lightning Thief was poised to be a rousing successor such as the Harry Potter film series was winding down. Yet, it didn’t really pan out the correct way or rather the way that the studio execs were banking on. So, let’s us revisit The Lightning Thief in this “cinematic flashback” post review and how Percy Jackson’s first cinematic outing was great to see come alive on-screen, yet plagued with problems.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is directed by Chris Colombus, the director behind such film projects like two Harry Potter films (Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets), Mrs. Doubtfire, and The Goonies. Giving his credibility on his works, Colombus seems like a suitable choice to helm a project like this, approaching Riordan’s novel with the same type of intent of what he did with J.K. Rowling’s novel on his work on the Harry Potter movies. This somewhat backfires on the director, but I’ll mention that below. Suffice to say, Colombus still keeps the feature relatively the same type of fun and engaging efforts that Riordan intended, with the feature having that pre-teen YA fantasy adventure vibe that mixes young adult tropes, action, and Greek Mythology. The result can be seeing as a bit of hodgepodge at times, yet the movie still manages to make for some decent strides in his shaping and sometimes execution. It gets the main premise of Riordan’s story and does make some compelling stuff, within parental estrangement (Poseidon and Percy) as well as invoking that classic hero “fish-out-of-water” tale throughout Percy’s journey. Of course, I’ve been a fan of Greek Mythology, so it was always fun to see such depictions of creatures and beings from those very same myths come alive in a big budgeted film. The film’s action in the film was relatively good. Of course, it wasn’t anything “groundbreaking” or deliver the same type of caliber of blockbuster releases that year, but still held its own and presented some slick, good sequences of Greek Mythology action.

For its presentation, the film looks and felt like a movie for its time, generating the right amount of blockbuster visual flair one would expect from kid’s fantasy adventure film. Sets were detailed and decorated intricately, locations were pleasing and sometimes otherworldly (to help create that Greek fantasy mythos), and the costume designs looked great throughout. Even some of the film’s cinematography worked looks visually fun and helps build upon those dramatic scenes finely. Also, the score for the film had a great fit for the feature and invoked that sense of adventure and fanfare throughout the proceedings.

Unfortunately, the movie isn’t quite the stellar when its fully examined and ends up being more of “mesh mash” of ideas and thoughts rather than a fully realized adaptation. With a runtime of 119 minutes (one hour and fifty-nine minutes), The Lightning Thief tries to condense an entire novel under a two-hour mark, with Colombus struggling of how to convey certain aspects that the material calls for. Thus, the movie itself feels out of sorts and paced in rather clunky manner, with some scenes being rushed and some just not really hitting the right “target” correctly, which just makes them awkward to say the least.

Personally, what is the most egregious that the movie does is some of the content that is removed and omitted for Riordan’s book. Of course, this is common trait when adapting a novel to a film (or any other media medium), so I knew something like this was going to happen. However, several crucial elements and parts were completely changed around or just cut from the film’s presentation. This includes several characters introduced in Camp Half Blood, the big confrontation scene in the third act is completely different from the book’s material (including who Percy actually fights), and the ending opts for a more “happy ending” rather than slightly ominous ending during the novel’s last chapter (where the actual lightning thief is revealed). There are a few other scenes that were changed / removed, but you get the idea. Plus, the changing of certain character aspects and thematic tones in the movie sort of felt “cheated” by the likeable approach that Riordan had in his novels, with the movie giving more of a generic and bland representation. One would think that Colombus, who adapted Rowling’s first two Harry Potter novels into feature length films (incorporating majority of the novel’s material) would have a better (and firmer) grasp of trying to adapt Riordan’s novel, especially since the studio execs wanted to make this first installment in a series profitable.

The main trio cast members for the movie (Percy, Grover, and Annabeth) were pretty decent for the most part, with Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, and Alexandra Daddario doing their best to play these characters and given enough screen presence to make their presence known in their scenes. Could they’ve have been better? Yes, most definitely. Do I see different actors / actress playing these characters? Yes, definitely. However, for what it’s worth, I they were adequate enough to make Riordan characters come alive on-screen, with Lerman projecting the right amount of youthful naivety and heroic bravery, Jackson having plenty to say with his one-liner quips, and Daddario feeling confident in her knowledge and skilled within her character’s prowess and keen intellect.

There is no mistaking that the trio of these main characters where a bit similar to the main trio in Harry Potter (Riordan makes it clearer than the movie does in the books), but I felt that Lerman, Jackson, and Daddario do make for compelling protagonist leads in the film. Perhaps the only problem that I had with the main trio is that they all looked a bit older than what was original intended in the story. It’s not a deal breaker or anything, but they don’t exactly look to be the age that Riordan intended them to be. Perhaps the only one who actually looked the age from the book is the character of Luke Castellan, the demigod son of Hermes, who is played by actor Jake Abel.

What’s disappointing is that the movie did in fact have the necessary “star power” from a plethora of recognizable actors and actresses to play the various characters in the story. This includes Sean Bean, Kevin McKidd, Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson, Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan, Catherine Keener, and Joe Pantoliano. All of them do great jobs in their respective roles throughout the movie, with most (if not all) lending their screen presence to the movie, which is such a shame that the movie didn’t take off. I, for one, loved these talents attached to the film (even though most were supporting characters in the movie) and wished that the movie franchise continued further…. with them attached to it.

The legacy of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief was another pitfall miscalculation from Hollywood as the movie received mixed reviews from critics, moviegoers, and its fanbase, with many citing that the performances from Lerman and Jackson were good as well as the visual effects and action scenes, but failed to capture (and grasp) the Riordan’s source material and a bland / generic script. Furthermore, the feature grossed roughly $294 million at the box office against its $95 million production budget, which is terribly bad, but not quite the numbers the studio was looking for, especially since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 made well over $977 million worldwide that very same year. A follow-up sequel was greenlit by 20th Century Fox, with Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Sea of Monsters, the second book of Riordan’s series, three years later, but, much like this one, was met with mixed reviews and opinions as well as another lukewarm reception box office results; ending the film franchise altogether. However, Disney, with their acquisition of 20th Century Fox studios, has revitalized the brand of Riordan’s Percy Jackson in Percy Jackson and the Olympians, a TV series where the first season will cover the narrative of The Lightning Thief and will be released on Disney + streaming services on December 20th, 2023. Only time will tell how the TV series will be received by viewers.

In the end, 2010’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is a frustrating movie that has plenty of potential from its literary source material, an acclaim film director, and the recognizable acting talents involved on this project. That being said, the film itself struggles to find a proper balance of all that and ends being a very middling project. The movie gets a bit more right than a lot of YA / teen fantasy adaptations of its time, but the sad result is that The Lightning Thief just ends up being a very hodgepodge endeavor that tries a bit too much of a Harry Potter film clone rather than standing on its own storytelling merits from Riordan’s bestselling novel.

 Cinematic Flashback Score: 2.7 Out of 5


Fun Fact: Rick Riordan, who wrote the Percy Jackson books, hated the script and has never seen the complete film. But he still accepted the paycheck from the studio for the rights and has stated he is grateful for how many people discovered the books because of the films. He also strongly advocated for the novels to be readapted, which would later happen with the Disney+ series Percy Jackson and the Olympians (2023), for which he wrote most of the teleplays.

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