You’d think a best-selling book series about kids with mythical powers would at least try to divert attention from the inevitable Harry Potter comparisons for its initial turn on the big screen. But The Lightning Thief
, the first film based on Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians
books, is directed by Chris Columbus, the same guy who helmed the first two (and most undeveloped) Harry Potter
movies. There are some differences between American Percy and Brit Harry — most significantly, Percy’s roots are in Greek mythology instead of budding wizardry. But like Harry, Percy takes two friends (yep — one’s a boy, the other’s a girl and both are demigods) along on his adventures. Turns out teen Percy (Logan Lerman) is the son of Poseidon. After Zeus’ lightning bolt is stolen, Percy and his pals go on a quest to get it back. Columbus directs to entertain rather than impress, so a lot happens in The Lightning Thief
, but not much sticks with you. The CGI beasts and action scenes get special attention, but there’s not much development in mood or character (Percy is dyslexic and has ADHD — interesting facets to his personality that are barely explored). At least the grown-up stars seem to be having fun with their brief roles, especially Pierce Brosnan as a mentoring centaur, Rosario Dawson as a bitchy Persephone and Uma Thurman, hamming it up as Medusa. But the movie, like the first Harry Potter film, plays like a slightly entertaining but uninspired introduction to a franchise that could ripen over the years (there are five Percy Jackson books so far). But unlike Harry, which wraps up its run in theaters next year, Percy’s possibilities are still untapped.