Whilst watching "Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief" a quote from "Highlander" came to me "There can be only one". You may be wondering what I am on about but to put it simply "Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief" felt like it was trying to be "Harry Potter". From the story of Percy who doesn't know he is a demigod through to the Half Blood camp where demigod's train on to the mission to stop Zeus declaring war it was all too similar to "Harry Potter". Now I don't know if Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books are that similar to the Harry Potter stories but director Chris Columbus certainly appears to have tried to make it feel the same and it feels wrong for being so similar.
When Zeus (Sean Bean) tells Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) that his son Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) has stolen his lightning bolt he has 14 days to return it or else war between the Gods will break out. The trouble is that Percy hasn't stolen it for the simple reason that Percy doesn't know his father is Poseidon and as such is a demigod. But he soon discovers this when he is attacked by a Fury and along with his crippled friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) and his mother Sally (Catherine Keener) rush to get to safety at the Half Blood camp where Percy meets other demigod's including Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) and learns that Grover is his protector, a half human half goat protector at that. But with Hades (Steve Coogan) also after the lightning bolt and kidnapped Sally it is up to Percy and his friends to save his mum and stop war by going on a quest.
So whilst "Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief" has a story about Percy discovering he is the son of Poseidon and Zeus is on the war path because someone stole his lightning bolt it does feel very similar in construct to the first Harry Potter movie. As such the oblivious to his father Percy suddenly discovers the truth when he is attacked by a Fury and finds himself being taken to the Half Blood Camp where other demigods train in combat skills. Percy also has a couple of friends, Grover who he discovers is not only a Satyr, half human half goat, but also his protector and Annabeth the demigod daughter of Athena all of which is very similar.
Continuing this similar theme we have Mr. Brunner who is half human half horse who is like the headmaster of Half Blood camp and then we get the quest. Now the quest of course should be about getting the lightning bolt back to Zeus but to start with it is all about Percy trying to rescue his mum from Hades who has kidnapped her in order to get the lightning bolt and power for himself. The quest evolves; we go from one place to another where we discover that all is not as it seems before we get a big final battle as Percy discovers who the lightning thief is.
Now having not read any of Riordan's books I have no idea if this is a fair adaptation of his tales, although having come across some of the reviews written by others it does seem like it is not very loyal. But even so there is the simple fact that "Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief" feels too similar to "Harry Potter" and to be honest feels too much like an imitation. Ironically if "Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief" had come out a couple of years after the Harry Potter franchise ended maybe it would have worked better.
But despite what seems to me to be obvious imitation there are some plus points to "Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief". Some of the special effects are quite good and for the most the casting works. Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson and Alexandra Daddario make an entertaining trio giving us humour, action and to be frank a bit of hotness which it has to be said feels a bit wrong for a movie aimed at children. But then the casting which is wrong is obvious and Pierce Brosnan just doesn't really seem like an educator as Mr. Brunner, although I think any actor with a horse's ass would struggle to make the character seem right.
What this all boils down to is that for me "Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief" came too soon because it ends up being too similar to the Harry Potter movies both in story and style and probably would have impressed more if it hadn't been made whilst the Harry potter franchise was still current. But for those who missed out on Harry Potter and by the sounds of it not read Riordan's books it may entertain.