Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Percy? Seriously… PERCY?! First – What mother loves her son and names the poor schnook ‘Percy’? Second – Perseus (with whom dear Percy’s name is overtly linked by characters in the movie) was a son of ZEUS! And if we accept the premise of eternal fraternal near-war that is the basis for the whole story, Poseidon (good to see Kevin McKidd getting work that ISN’T crappy prime-time soap opera) naming his son after his prick of a brother’s kid?

You’re picking nits, pal. Get over it.

Yeah, I know… It’s a kids’ book turned into a kids’ movie. I shouldn’t be so critical, right?

Actually, I don’t think so at all. I think we should be more critical of the stuff we give our kids to read. After all, we do our best to feed their bodies the best food we can find, don’t we? Why do we so readily slack off in vetting the quality of what we feed their minds?

All that being said – and chalking up mythological inconsistencies to ‘artistic license’ – The Lightning Thief wasn’t a bad movie. In fact, it was fairly entertaining. It wastes not a moment before getting to the action. I give the author kudos for transplanting mythic trials to the modern world. I particularly liked his use of the Lotus Eaters, though the lack of subtlety makes me sigh. It’s not quite as mature as, say, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (despite its protagonists being a bit older than ol’ Harry is in that movie). But it’s entertaining, engaging, and fun. If you’re up for a couple hours of bright, flashy American kid-entertainment – go see it. You could certainly do worse.

[SPOILER ALERT] Read on at your own risk

There were a few things that bugged me about the movie. Things that raise questions in my mind and things I think worth mentioning:

  1. All of the powerful and important characters are white. And not even INTERESTINGLY white. The one black guy in the cast is saddled with a distressing set of stereotypical traits. He’s a SATYR, for starters. His job is to PROTECT THE POWERFUL WHITE KID. And his fate, as far as the story goes, is to sacrifice himself so that the white folks can go on and save the world. His reward? First – implied nookie. Second – a pair of TEENY TINY HORNS (talk about emasculation…).
  2. Two of the characters in the movie are disabled, and BOTH disabilities turn out to be cunning ruses to hide the fact that they’re not disabled at all, but secretly awesome. Was that really necessary? Couldn’t they have been awesome AND disabled?
  3. When his mother is DISINTEGRATED by an enormous minotaur RIGHT BEFORE HIS VERY EYES, our pal Percy barely bats an eyelash. There’s no shock or dismay. Not even a hint of distress. In fact, I blinked somewhere between Mom being grabbed and collapsing in a shower of sparks and I wasn’t ever all that clear that she HAD been killed. There was no reaction to confirm it! I mean COME ON! Gimme a LITTLE pathos, eh?

Anyway – once I put my critical thinking skills on hiatus, the movie was enjoyable and entertaining. At the very least, it provided enough distraction that I manage to avoid writing for several hours.

If you’ve got kids who like explosions and a robust capacity to suspend disbelief – go see The Lightning Thief. It’s better than a sharp stick in the eye!

…and that’s the word, my pretties. Be good. Take care. And whatever you do…


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