Monday Movie: Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief by @destroytheearth

Sometimes, like a boulder rolling towards you down a hill, a film's impact is made by the momentum it has built up behind it. In the case of Percy Jackson and The Lightening Thief, this comes not only from a successful children's book being adapted by the director of the first few Harry Potter films, but also from the ancient Greek myths that still permeate our culture.

Following a young hero with a great destiny who discovers the world of the Greek gods is alive and well in modern New York and is charged with retrieving Zeus' missing lightening bolt, the film serves as a re-imagining of those myths, but also an an introduction to them for younger viewers. In fact, between this educational angle and the sanitisation of the plot, this could well be a film shown in primary schools as an introduction to Greek mythology. This is a film where the hero only gets CLOSE to kissing the girl and a smack over the head with a sword will give you a papercut and a concussion.

Not that this is a wholly stoic affair; there's plenty here to catch kids' and adults' attention. Whilst solely in innuendo territory, Rosario Dawson's Persephone quite clearly invites bootie calls down to the underworld and the bikini-clad daughters of Aphrodite are purely designed to draw the attention.

Above all else, Percy himself is refreshingly-unwussy. It almost feels as if every children's fantasy hero nowadays is a reluctant one, whinging about his lot in life. Percy's reaction to finding out he is the son of Poseidon, on the other hand, is more like: "it's about time". The demi-god isn't just a wimp with a destiny who manages to luck out thanks to more-powerful protectors, he is a genuinely pro-active hero, for once deserving of the title. Further to his being down with the kids, dyslexic, ADHD sufferer Percy sports an emo cut, wields an iPhone and drives cross country in a brand-new sports car.

Not that this is the only place the budget has been spent: you might be forgiven for getting a little excited watching the opening credits and seeing standout performer after standout performer pop up. Most are only given small cameo roles, but it's still a laugh playing "spot the celeb" as you recognise that guy from Rome and her from CSI: New York along with Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan and Catherine Keener. All the stars support the struggling young cast and enhance the film, even Steve Coogan, with the exception of Uma Thurman, who may as well have pulled out a knife and fork and broken off a chunk of the set. The attitude seems to be, it's for the kids, so we have to camp it up to get their attention. This is one thing for Joe Pantoliano, but quite another for someone best suited to Tarantino's hyper reality. Unfortunately, Thurman isn't the only one making this mistake.

The script is littered with painful exposition and plot holes you could float the Titanic through. How DO these 16 year-old kids afford to pay for hotel rooms and why do they think they need three pearls other than deus ex machina? Rowling's success was based on her not using childrens' supposed stupidity as an excuse for lazy plotting, and it is something Mr Titley could do with learning.

Nonetheless, Riordan's imaginative ideas and some star power are enough to pull Percy Jackson through. I doubt you'll enjoy any film your kids drag you to this much any time soon, Harry Potter aside, and you may be left feeling that Percy might just have a little more heart.

Today's post was a rant from Neil: a former pharmaceutical journalist who lost his career and his sanity in the recession and now writes this blog to stop him forgetting how to spell. He is obsessed with films, books, comics, scifi, burlesque, circus arts and his fiancee, with whom he lives in a run down flat opposite a sex shop in Folkestone. He one day hopes to complete his second novel and have it published, but in the mean time you can read his short fiction blog or follow him on Twitter at @destroytheearth.

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