Chris Columbus, the director responsible for “Home Alone” and “Mrs. Doubtfire,” has been called a hack, but he enjoyed success with his faithful yet relatively bland adaptations in the first two “Harry Potter” films.
He’s in familiar kiddo territory taking on the first adaptation of Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” book series. The result is a solid flick for kids waiting for the final two installments of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
Parents who nostalgically remember the 1981 “Clash of the Titans” but are still taking Pepcid for the recent remake will find familiarity in the plot of “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” even if they haven’t read Riordan’s series. Fans of the “Potter” and “Narnia” worlds will wave their wands at the familiar themes. Early on, the teens train at Camp Half-Blood and the plot includes a minotaur attack.
But this isn’t Hogwarts; it’s the mythical world of the Greek gods. Logan Lerman stars in the title role. As the son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd), Percy has 10 days to return a lightning bolt stolen from Zeus (Sean Bean). Those two acting heavyweights help supplement Lerman’s acting shortcomings.
The film suffers slightly from some odd casting with ex-James Bond Pierce Brosnan playing a centaur, Catherine Keener as Percy’s mom, and “The Sopranos” actor Joe Pantoliano as Percy’s abusive stepfather, but most of the Greek gods are pretty bad-ass, particularly Uma Thurman as Medusa. Rosario Dawson, portraying the queen of the underworld, is as smokin’ hot as a PG rating can allow.
Thankfully, Christophe Beck’s theme music doesn’t beat you over the head, and the soundtrack utilizes some pop-culture cues (Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” for example) to keep things current.
The Blu-ray presentation looks stunning. The three-disc set includes a DVD in standard definition and a digital copy, but the extras are slimmer than Tori Spelling, with 10 deleted scenes, a brief featurette with wooden talking points delivered by Riordan, and an interactive quiz that only a pre-teen could find amusing. “Rob Collins