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The Lightning Thief - Journal of Omnifarious

Feb. 15th, 2010

10:09 am - The Lightning Thief

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I went to see Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief with tazfrog today. Ever since I saw the Disney version of Hercules I've been wary of movies that try to adapt greek mythology, so I was very worried that this movie would totally destroy it in the same manner as the aforementioned Disney film do.

Now, some films that seem like they might qualify don't. For example, Troy mostly strips all the references to Greek mythology from the story and tells it as a straight story about a human conflict. And that's fine, I don't really like the movie, but my distaste isn't because it completely destroys the mythology.

The reason I care is that Greek and Roman mythology are, IMHO, second only to the Christian mythology as the basis for our culture. We shouldn't be treating them carelessly or casually. We should work hard to preserve the essence of the stories when we retell them because they are important stories.

So, when I went to see The Lightning Thief, I was chiefly worried they'd get it all wrong.

They didn't. To be sure, it's a Hollywood adaptation. Starship Troopers didn't get the Heinlein novel wrong, exactly, but it too is a Hollywood adaptation. And The Lightning Thief does a better job of remaining faithful to the spirit than Starship Troopers did.

Unfortunately, while it's a good movie for not murdering the mythology, it is mediocre in many other respects. It suffers from a script that could've been a lot better, mostly in terms of dialogue. And it suffers from mediocre to poor acting on the part of Percy's mother, Percy's love interest, and the main villain. Percy himself is a pretty competent actor, and Chiron is also competently played, as are Poseidon and Zeus.

I would not compare the movie to Harry Potter as many reviewers have done. I have definite reasons for this, but I'm not sure how to articulate them. Being a demigod though is significantly different from being a magician.

It isn't a bad movie. I would give it about 3.5 stars. It is, IMHO, above average, but it could've been great.

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