Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
PG
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +2

Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, Alexandra Daddario. Sci-fi action/adventure. Written by Craig Titley, Joe Stillman. Directed by Chris Columbus.

FILM SYNOPSIS:. Someone has stolen a bolt of lightening from the Olympian god, Zeus, and the prime suspect is a 21st century high school Greek geek passionate for all things mythological. Young Percy discovers that if the bolt is not returned before the summer solstice there will be Hades to pay. Actually, a war will break out between the gods, which pleases Hades, the god of the netherworld, to no end. To complicate things further for poor, put-upon Percy, Hades has abducted the boy’s mother and is holding her for ransom. Oh, and guess which 21st century teen high schooler learns that he’s the son of the sea god, Poseidon. Son of a gun, you got it – Percy. I think Zeus also fathered an earthling, making Hercules a demigod. (Those residents of Mt. Olympus are anything but chaste.)

Soon, the threesome set out for the underworld in order to rescue good old mom and find the legendary lightening bolt. There’s a quest to follow and many a travail to overcome before the inevitable epilogue suggests a sequel.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Comparisons are plentiful between this youth action adventure and that book/film franchise about the kid with the wand and the jagged scare on his forehead. For instance, Harry, I mean, Percy has two pals, a best bud and a budding love interest. The intrepid trio must work together in order to save our world, and like that other series about magic spells and fantastical creatures, this one has a premise/theme/plotline meant to stir adolescent imaginations.

The producers wisely surround their neophyte leading trio with pros such as Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan and Catherine Keener (playing Percy’s mother), but while it passes the time amiably, it’s not quite in the league with Harry Potter when it comes to production values. Though the CGI effects are impressive, and there are positive messages about friendship, family love, and doing the right thing, overall, the film lacks a sense of wonder.

As to the Greek mythology of gods and goddesses, there are a great many fantastical movies, TV shows and other outlets for sci-fi exploration that could eventually raise the question, “If all this is make-believe, is our God also fantasy?” For myself, I have always looked upon the “deities” from Mt. Olympus as allegorical, meant to be used in good vs. evil parables. They never swayed me from my faith in God or Jesus. As a child, I went to Sunday school and my parents made Bible study and prayer a part of our daily lives. Even as a kid I could watch Hercules or Jason and the Argonauts and see the ethereal beings for what they were, protagonists or antagonists in entertaining action adventures.

DVD Alternative: Star Kid. (1998) Joseph Mazzello. Trimark Pictures. Kid's Sci-Fi adventure. The new kid on the block is taught to face his fears, first by his teacher after the school bully picks on him; then by a space robot who comes to earth to do combat with an unfriendly alien.

The mechanical being can only function with the aid of a life force inside him, so without much convincing, the boy climbs inside, causing innocent havoc in the neighborhood before facing the enemy from outer space. A fairly clean film with life lessons, humor and enough action to keep 8-to 12-year-olds amused. I confess, I enjoyed it myself.

PG (a few mild expletives, but no profanity other than a couple of "Oh my gods"; some mild bathroom humor; a bully threatens our young hero and even beats him up, but later they become friends; the older sister is rather hostile to her sibling, but again, when danger threatens, the family pulls together; the sci-fi violence is tame for older kids, but may be a little intense for little ones).

Or Try: Eragon. Edward Speleers stars in this epic fantasy-adventure about a young farm boy whose destiny is revealed with the help of a dragon. Reminiscent of Dragonheart, another period tale of knights, dragons and the never-ending struggle for justice, Eragon contains messages of bravery, sacrifice, and the need for doing what is right. And though there is a demonic sorcerer, this good vs. evil parable is more Narnia than Hogwarts, and is not an attempt to interest youth in the dark arts. Rated PG for several intense battle scenes and several demonic-looking creatures who do battle with the good guys.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Summary
Crude Language: Three or four crude sexual terms and suggestive remarks.
Obscene Language: There are around six minor expletives, damns and hells, some included in a song.
Profanity: Variations of the term “Oh my God” are heard a couple of times, but no other misuse of God’s name.
Violence: There are many comic book battle sequences of a violent nature, including sword fights – one character is cut on the face – near destruction by creatures of a decidedly dragon-like appearance; Medusa, a scary creature with snakes for hair, gets her head hacked off, but the sequence is handled with respect for younger audiences – it’s not overly graphic.

Blood: Small amount of blood after the killing of a minotaur.
Sexual Intercourse: There is some sensuality and some kissing.
Nudity: Young women in bikinis and some cleavage from women dressed provocatively.
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Non
Drug Abuse: Some drinking by adults; the kids innocently eat something that contains a hallucinatory drug.
Other: The step dad is insensitive, a liar, a user of people, including his own family, and an all around bad guy.
Running Time: 120 minutes
Intended Audience: Youth demographic, 12 and over.

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