Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Let me start by stating that I have not read the book. I kept thinking that maybe I should have while watching this movie, so I felt I should clarify that beforehand. Since I assume most people haven't read it, you could say this review is for most people. Make of that whatever you wish.
I am also European and a viking, so that may have affected my view of this film, since it's Greek myth, set in the US. ;)
Now I didn't know all that much about this film going into it, except it was about Percy Jackson, someone has stolen lightning, and it was based off a book.
Someone has stolen Zeus's lightning bolt, and for some reason everyone immediately suspects Percy Jackson, who's the son of Poseidon. It was never really explained why everyone jumped to that conclusion, but it's brought up several times during the movie without any further explanation. Percy himself has no knowledge of his father, but this whole other world is suddenly revealed to him, and he handles it fairly well, about as well as can be expected, I suppose.
He is quickly sent on the run with his mother and his best friend Grover, who turns out to be a Satyr. They arrive at a camp full of other demi-gods, where Percy meets Annabeth, third main character, token girl and love interest. Just as they reach the camp, Percy's mother gets kidnapped, since you have to be a creature of myth or at least part god to enter. The rest of movie consists mainly of Percy, Grover and Annabeth trying to get his mother back, rather than trying to track down the Lightning Thief, despite the threat of war on the horizon.
End plot summary
I'll note that even though this is Greek mythology, everything and everyone seem to be located in the US. This is never fully explained either, but I will grant that if you accept that the Greek gods are the gods and mythos, it's reasonable to expect them to be accessible all over the world.
You do get to see some of the classic monsters, and the encounters are mostly pretty entertaining. Some of the noteworthy ones are a Fury, some Hellhounds (though sadly not Cerberus himself), a Hydra, Medusa and a Minotaur, though not necessarily in that order.
And it should be noted; This film feels pretty rushed, which is fairly standard for book adaptations. The plot seems to jump from point to point, characters come and go frequently, character development sometimes makes some fairly significant jumps of its own. Pretty much what you'd expect.
The main characters:
Percy: A fairly typical hero, whom the world revolves around, naturally. He sometimes seems clever and calm, but then turns around and does something phenomenally stupid, or doesn't think ahead as far as he really should have done.
Grover: Loyal friend and comic relief. At times he hints at greater depth than either of the other two, but the movie never really explores it. While he has his moments, he usually just tags along, since it's the other two who are the demi-gods.
Annabeth: A fairly typical bad-ass action girl, with a buried sweeter side, naturally. She starts out trying to kill Percy, but quickly becomes another loyal friend. She probably has the most brains out of the three, but it doesn't seem to help the group that much, since most of her advice and hints seem to come just a bit too late to be of use.
The big-name actors are all given fairly minor roles, when it comes to screen-time. There's Sean Bean as Zeus, Pierce Brosnan as
Keiron Chiron the centaur, and Uma Thurman as Medusa (and as always she does the creepy lady role pretty well) to name a few.
The movie makes lots of references to Greek myth, but seems to assume that most people will know very little of it, meaning that those of us that have some familiarity with it will see things coming for miles away while the movie patiently explains it to the rest of the audience.
To the film's credit, I felt it handled the whole romance thing pretty well, never letting it steal the show, and keeping it relatively contained.
There were some plot points that bothered me though, so here come spoilers:
There were probably more, but those are all that come to mind at the moment.
I got the feeling while watching this film that it wanted to become the next Harry Potter, but I felt it never really reached there. The plot was not especially intelligent, and it was also rather cliche-driven. The characters weren't likable enough. They were okay, but not much more than that. It felt a little too focused and lacking in scale. This could be improved in future movies, I suppose.
As it is, it's a decent enough fantasy action movie. A good popcorn flick, as they say. Not particularly intelligent, but some cool monsters, a few good action scenes, and nice special effects. It felt like it wanted to be more, but it was let down by a bit too much American ego, an acute case of "the world revolves around the main character" and said main character sometimes being downright dumb.
It's a decent movie to rent a night if you want to turn off your brain and just watch something entertaining. In my mind not worth a purchase, but I leave that up to you. If you're looking for something engaging and intelligent, get District 9 or Lord of the Rings (can't think of a more recent fantasy movie that fits the bill), or just more interesting, get Harry Potter or Serenity.
I quite liked the character of Persephone. She was probably my favourite in the entire movie.