Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief


20th Century Fox




Plot Summary: Self-proclaimed loser, Percy Jackson, finds out he is actually a demigod, the son of Poseidon.


Reason for the Rating: Action violence and peril, some scary images and suggestive material, and mild language.


First, if you are one of the many who read - and loved - The Lightning Thief book, then there's something you should know. This movie is not the same. Oh sure, the major characters, themes, and plot points appear...there's just some extra stuff and a few places where the filmmakers took a little license with the original material. Still, if you can get past that (or if you never read the book), then Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief movie has plenty to offer.


Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) thinks he’s just your ordinary kid trying to get by in school, despite his dyslexia and ADHD. But when a substitute teacher turns into a monstrous and mythical fury, he finds out his identity has been hidden from him his whole life. He is the son of Poseidon, Greek god of the sea. For some reason, tumultuous Zeus (Sean Bean) has gotten it into his head that Percy has stolen his lightning bolt.


Just like Harry Potter, Percy is whisked off to a wondrous world he never new existed, a camp where demigods like him grow up and learn the art of warfare (though whom exactly they need to learn to fight with ancient Greek warfare is not quite clear). He discovers powers he never knew he had, like the ability to heal with and control water.


But when Hades kidnaps Percy’s mother, threatening to kill her if he doesn’t bring him Zeus’ lightning bolt, Percy sets off on an adventure with two friends, a satyr (Brandon T. Jackson) and one of Athena’s daughters (Alexandra Daddario) to bring his mom back and stop the war Zeus has threatened. They face Medusa (a very creepy snake-haired Uma Thurman), the lair of the Lotus Eaters, where they are suspended in a happy but clueless stupor, and the Hydra—a many headed serpent—along the way.


The Lightning Thief is based on the first in a series of adolescent novels by Rick Riordan, which are based on Greek mythology. The plots began as bedtime stories he made up for his own son, who was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD.


Many critics complain that Percy is no Harry Potter or Bilbo Baggins, but just a blatant rehash of the same ol’, same ol’ coming-of-age hero tale. But who said Potter and Baggins had a corner on this market? It’s not a rehash of Rowling, it’s a classic archetype that appeals across generations and has seen many reiterations across generations. The movie isn’t as good as The Sorcerer’s Stone or The Fellowship of the Ring, but was anyone really expecting it to be?


It’s a fun, fast-paced adventure tale that, while formulaic, is still worth the ride—and might even get your kids interested in Greek mythology.


Although some images - like the disembodied snake-head of Medusa and the fierce Hydra - are a bit too scary for young children, the movie is clean fun for the rest of the family.


Let’s Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie.


• Even though he didn’t know it, Percy’s mother had been sacrificing so much to keep Percy safe (living with a smelly brute). Is there a loved one in your life, like your parents, who does a lot for you without you even knowing it? Think of some examples.


• Percy’s learning challenges of dyslexia and ADHD turn out to actually be some of his greatest skills. Do you have anything in your own life that seems like a weakness but could also be a strength?




Note: All movie-related graphics in this column are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective movie studios. 

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