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Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

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Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
The film that started the downfall of Chris Columbus.
Genre: Action
Directed By: Chris Columbus
Produced By: Karen Rosenfelt
Chris Columbus
Michael Barnathan
Mark Radcliffe
Written By: Craig Titlely
Based On: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Starring: Logan Lerman
Brandon T. Jackson
Alexandra Daddario
Distributed By: 20th Century Fox
Release Date: February 12, 2010
Runtime: 118 minutes
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $95 million
Box Office: $226.4 million
Franchise: Percy Jackson
Sequel: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, also known as Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, is a 2010 action fantasy film directed by Chris Columbus. The film is the first installment in the Percy Jackson film series and is based on the 2005 novel The Lightning Thief, the first novel in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. It stars Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson alongside an ensemble cast that includes Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Jake Abel, Rosario Dawson, Steve Coogan, Uma Thurman, Catherine Keener, Joe Pantoliano, Kevin McKidd, Sean Bean, Dylan Neal and Pierce Brosnan. The movie was released to theaters on February 12, 2010 in the United States by 20th Century Fox.

The film cost $95 million to make. Despite the critical response, the film was the box office success, grossed $226.4 million worldwide. The film was released on June 29, 2010 on DVD and Blu-ray. A video game based on the film developed by Activision was released for Nintendo DS on February 11, 2010. A sequel, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, was released on August 7, 2013.


Always trouble-prone, the life of teenager Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) gets a lot more complicated when he learns he's the son of the Greek god Poseidon. At a training ground for the children of deities, Percy learns to harness his divine powers and prepare for the adventure of a lifetime: he must prevent a feud among the Olympians from erupting into a devastating war on Earth, and rescue his mother from the clutches of Hades, god of the underworld.

Why It's Ungodly

  1. Poor grasp of the source material.
    • Many characters were missing, such as Clarisse (although she did appear in the sequel).
    • Percy, Grover and Annabeth were 12-years-old in the book, but in here, they are 16 years old and look more like college students.
    • The characters act almost like nothing they do in the books.
      • Percy in the books was rather insecure, but his movie counterpart is downright cocky.
      • Grover was written as more timid and shy. In the movie, he's more of a Casanova Wannabe.
      • In the books, Annabeth might've been a serious action character, but she was also someone who valued brains more than brawn. The movie focused more on her toughness and made her a lot more abrasive, making her more like Clarisse from the books.
      • In addition to both being significantly nicer and more reasonable than their book counterparts, Zeus and Poseidon are shown to be cockier and less subtle when it comes to keeping mortals unaware of their existence; the film opens with a giant Poseidon emerging from the ocean in full view of a nearby fishermen, their conflict creates an unexplained storm system that stretches from coast to coast, and Zeus wastes no time in letting lightning fill the skies the instant his bolt is returned to him.
  2. The movie introduces many plot holes that weren't in the books.
    • The Lotus Casino is a holdover from the book that throws a wrench into the film's sequence of events. In the book, Percy was quested to recover Zeus's master bolt from the Underworld in order to return it before the summer solstice deadline, which is why the group's five-day stay in the casino was significant for wasting so much precious time. In the film's version of the story, the motivation is changed to rescuing Percy's mother from the Underworld; the missing bolt and the deadline aren't pertinent to the quest at all up until the end, meaning the casino setback should no longer be that significant. And yet the three heroes still act like it is, saying that they must hurry on to the Underworld despite being given no reason to think that Zeus's bolt is even there, to say nothing of the fact that they weren't looking for it.
    • Rather than just having Percy come across the guy from the 70s on his own like in the book, in the film, Poseidon has to warn him telepathically about being trapped inside the casino before he thinks to investigate anything. But he still only does this after Percy has been inside the casino for five days, raising the question of why he waited so long when time was of such a crucial essence.
    • The Gods and all things in the Greek Myths are concealed by the Mist, but in the film, it's missing and the gods and monsters can now appear before mortals and not cover up their appearances such as when we first see Poseidon and a man fishing sees him in his GIANT form. Surely that would garner some spot on the news!
    • Persephone is shown to be in the Underworld at the time the heroes visit there, which is on the eve of the summer solstice when she should be in the world above, like she was in the book. Even stranger is that she acknowledges that she does have allotted time to spend away from the Underworld, but whether the allotment has changed since the time of the myths or Hades was somehow keeping her trapped there against her will isn't addressed.
    • When Percy's mother dies right in front of him, he doesn't show any emotion and takes it pretty well.
    • Luke's plan in helping Percy get to the Underworld winds up sounding like nonsense on a multitude of levels:
      • To start with, Luke provides a map to a set of pearls that Percy and his friends can use to escape the Underworld once they're inside since getting out is said to be impossible. The pearls turn out to work exactly as advertised; however, true to the book, Luke later admits it was never his intention for Percy to leave the Underworld alive, begging the question of why he gave him the map in the first place. In the book, the pearls were actually a gift to Percy from Poseidon via a third party, hence why Luke hadn't factored them into his plan.
      • Luke sending the bolt along with Percy in secret is an even bigger example. In the book, Luke stole the bolt from Zeus, but was soon apprehended by Ares, whom he managed to convince to help start the war by passing it onto Percy, who would deliver it to Hades in the Underworld. (Luke's plan actually involved the bolt being delivered to Kronos via a pair of winged shoes that were cursed, but the movie also leaves that subplot out.) In the movie, Luke had the bolt with him the entire time up until he hid it in Percy's shield; there's no reason why he didn't keep it for himself as he intended to in the book, seeing as a war between the gods would've been of a large enough scale without Hades having it. Kronos being reintroduced in the sequel only further widens this plot hole, as the master bolt would've been a powerful tool for him and Luke essentially bartered it away for nothing.
  3. Obvious product placement mainly for Apple products. Also, when Percy, Annabeth, and Grover go to see Luke on how to get into the Underworld, he's playing Modern Warfare 2, more specifically the "Favela" map on the OpFor side.
  4. It nearly ruined the reputation of Chris Columbus.
  5. Some of the costume designs are ridiculous, especially Hades, whose dressed like a wannabe rockstar than a god.
  6. The special effects and CGI (especially) looks pretty awful with many of the CGI objects having some pretty atrocious motion blur.
  7. The characters are incredibly flat. We don't spend any time to get to know the characters, making them feel more like vessels for things to happen. Percy is especially problematic since you'd think the film would take the time to show how Percy feels about his normal life and the fact that he's a demigod, but that never happens.
    • We're also constantly told that they have these certain abilities or problems but the film never shows how that helps or impacts the characters.
      • Percy brings up his dyslexia and ADHD as though they're major and recurring problems in his daily life, but we don't see any signs of them hindering him onscreen.
      • We are told that Annabeth is a wise combat schemer, probably a combat pragmatist, but in the movie she offers no actual aid to the heroes and just kind of acts like a tag-along child with specks of damsel in distress. All the combat and ideas on how to solve problems are given by Percy the only exception being the idea to keep Medusa's head for later.
  8. Bad pacing as the film can feel like it's going too fast especially in the beginning.
  9. Executive Meddling: According to Riordan himself, none of the people who worked on the movies bothered listening to him (which is easily seen if you read the emails he sent to the exacs that he himself leaked and compare them to the final product). It's one of those cases where the entire movie could count, thus why its not a very faithful adaptation.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. Great soundtrack.
  2. Decent acting especially from Logan Lerman since this was his first major role in a film.
  3. The action scenes are actually pretty decent and entertaining especially the one against the Hydra. And when the trio escape the casino with the car.
  4. The film usage of the lotus eaters is pretty interesting as this time they're being tricked to stay after eating lotus blossoms as opposed to arcade games. This could also be a neat way of showing how addicting it can be to gamble and party.
  5. Seeing Percy's abusive stepfather, Gabe Ugliano getting turned to stone is very satisfying to watch, even if it never happened in the book.
  6. The cinematography looks good.


The movie received mixed reviews from critics and a largely negative response from fans, with criticism for poor grasp of its source material and its script, but praised for Lerman and Jackson's performances, visual effects, and the action sequences and it currently has a 5.9/10 rating on IMDb. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 49% based on reviews from 150 critics, with an average score of 5.30/10. The site's consensus reads: "Though it may seem like just another Harry Potter knockoff, Percy Jackson benefits from a strong supporting cast, a speedy plot, and plenty of fun with Greek mythology.". On Metacritic it has a score of 47 out of 100, based on 31 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film a grade B+ on a scale from A+ to F. Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times described the film as "standard Hollywood product... unadventurous and uninteresting". The reviewer for The Washington Post thought "the movie suffers by taking itself a little too seriously. It's not just that it's a lot less funny than the book. It's also a lot less fun". On BBC Radio 5, Mark Kermode criticized the similarity of the film to director Chris Columbus's Harry Potter films, likening it to a Harry Potter parody book and dubbing it Benjamin Sniddlegrass and the Cauldron of Penguins. This comment later sparked a satirical fan creation with precisely that title, narrated by Stephen Fry.

On the other hand, the film was universally panned by fans of the series, including the author, Rick Riordan, and is considered by many to be one of the worst film adaptations ever made. Rick Riordan especially has publicly criticized the final script of the movie on his personal blog and asked teachers to not show the film to their students and encouraged them to read the novels instead. He also revealed email recommendations for script changes with names redacted, but sadly this attempt had fallen on deaf ears.

In regards to future support for a reboot, Riordan said, "In the future, if some project actually does get underway, I may not be able to comment on it for contractual reasons, but you can tell how I’m feeling about it by what I do or don’t say. Am I talking about it? Promoting it? Sharing cool things? I am probably happy. Am I completely ignoring it and never mentioning it on social media? Yeah . . . that’s probably not a good sign. For instance, check out my website, Do you see any indication there that the Percy Jackson movies ever existed? No. No, you do not."


Nostalgia Critic review
A review from The Mythology Guy, known for knowing about about various mythologies, including Greek mythology; he also read the Percy Jackson books.


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