Things are a little tense in the realm of perpetually feuding Greek gods Zeus (Sean Bean), Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and Hades (Steve Coogan). The bickering brothers have long been at odds, but when someone steals Zeus’ lightning bolt an all-out, world-ravishing war is on deck.
Meanwhile, on Earth, average high-schooler Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) discovers that his mundane life is about to change because he is, in fact, a demi-god: the half-human, half-god son of Poseidon, born to a human mother (Catherine Keener) after a summertime Jersey-Shore romance of years gone by.
For reasons never really explained, all sorts of gods (big and small) suspect Percy of being the lightning thief, and he’s shipped off to a remote camp where he learns about his lineage alongside dozens of other teenaged demi-gods. With his best friend, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), at his side, and aided by a warrior princess named Annabeth (Alexandra Dadderio), Percy decides to brave all sorts of otherworldly creatures in a bid to prove his innocence and hopefully thwart global destruction.
Based on author Rick Riordan’s book series, and directed by Chris Columbus, it’s an impressive, exciting CGI-heavy journey, with visual effects coupled with excellent pacing. The story never lags or feels slow and, with each new destination, more and more pieces of Greek history are illuminated. The hydra, the lotus eaters, Medusa (Uma Thurman in a deliciously evil turn)… so much so that I looked forward to what (or who) might pop up next.
And there are plenty of whos; Pierce Brosnan turns up as a sage centaur named Chiron, Joe Pantoliano is Percy’s boorish asshat of a stepfather, Melina Kanakaredes has a cameo as Athena, and Rosario Dawson is all smoldering sensuality as Hades’ imprisoned (and disgruntled) wife, Persephone.
Though comparisons to Harry Potter are bound to emerge, Percy Jackson more than holds his own as a good time at the movies. And, despite the fact that Lerman (who seems like the love child of Ian Somerhalder and Michael Angarano) may not be the strongest presence onscreen, I suspect he’ll have more opportunities to refine his character in the inevitable sequel(s).