'Jackson' a fun throwback to less serious adventures
First, a note: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning
Thief is no Harry Potter.
Jackson simply doesn't contain the kind of depth found in the Potter films, despite obvious similarities - teenage boy growing up in the "normal world" finds out he has crazy special abilities (fun time!) and finds himself fighting evil before his voice drops.
I'll admit that I found Jackson cheesy for the first 30 minutes, wondering why director Chris Columbus - who made the first two Potter films - would helm a film that was bound to be called an inferior knock-off of a film he made.
The plot's setup is simple and hard to take seriously, as Zeus tells Poseidon that his lightning bolt has been stolen and accuses Poseidon's son, then lays an ultimatum: if it is not returned in X amount of time, there will be the war of all wars, humanity might not make it, etc.
But Poseidon's son, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman, Hoot), has no idea who his father is or that Greek mythology is actually real. He's just one of the smart kids at high school who gets picked on - until now!
There's a bunch of typical mentors and romance plotlines, but I won't bore you with those details because Jackson isn't about the plot devices. It's about the adventure and, before I knew what had happened, I was quite interested in this odd quest through minotaurs and Hades and some wacky flying monster that looks like the offspring of a pig, an eagle and an egg.
As I mentioned earlier, Jackson is no Potter, but the good news is that it isn't trying to be.
Columbus knows the material doesn't take itself seriously and creates a film reminiscent of the films that he made earlier in his career as a writer (Gremlins) and director (Home Alone, Mrs. Doubtfire).
By the time they got to Hades, where Hades (Steve Coogan) and Persephone (Rosario Dawson) bicker madly at each other, I finally realized that it's supposed to be a comedy as much as an adventure. It's both funny and a good time, so I believe it works on both levels.
It's fairly formulaic, sure, but remember when movies were simple and you just went to have a good time? Before all the adventure and action movies got all talky about important stuff? This is that kind of movie.
The character of Percy Jackson is perfect for this material, too, a 17-year-old smart aleck who fears nothing and rushes headfirst into any situation. He reminded me a lot of Marty McFly from Back to the Future, another character who failed to ask many questions before jumping headfirst into a time machine repeatedly.
Aside from Dawson and Coogan, other supporting cast members also appear to be having a good time, from Joe Pantoliano as Percy's abusive stepdad to Uma Thurman as Medusa.
Everyone appears to be indulging in some serious overacting, but in that way that tells you we're just here to have some fun and goof off for a while.
And sometimes, in between movies about saving the planet or being open-minded or something else that's either depressing or meaningful, it's kind of nice to just kick back, turn the ole brain off and laugh at some funny jokes.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is rated PG for action violence and peril, mild language, some scary images and suggestive material. It is currently playing at the Regal Cinemas 7 in Boone and the Parkway Theater in West Jefferson.