A teenage hero blessed with incredible abilities goes on a cross-country quest that involves a trip to the Underworld. What, is it Deathly Hallows time already? No, this is Percy Jackson, a Harry Potter-esque fantasy that pits the offspring of Greek god Poseidon against a rogues’ gallery of mythological creatures as he tries to avert Armageddon on Mount Olympus.
Since these include Medusa the Gorgon (a vamping Uma Thurman), an angry Minotaur and a half-man, half-horse Pierce Brosnan, comparisons to a certain blockbuster remake heading our way (you know - “Titans! Will! Clash!”) are pretty much inevitable. Between JK Rowling and Ray Harryhausen, though, Chris Columbus’s movie manages to carve out its own identity as a light-hearted romp that has fun relocating classical legends to contemporary America.
Unaware he’s the issue of a clandestine liaison between mortal Catherine Keener and the divine Kevin McKidd, Percy/Perseus (Logan Lerman) thinks he is just a normal kid with an above-average lung capacity. Until, that is, he is accused of pinching Zeus’ lightning rod, prompting its owner (Sean Bean) to send a Fury after him and his rival Hades (Steve Coogan) to kidnap his mom.
Covers blown, Percy and his goat-legged friend Grover (Brandon T Jackson) take refuge at ‘Camp Half-Blood’ (steady, Jo!), a Hogwarts-style enclave for “really special people”. It’s not long, though, before they and feisty demigod Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) are on the road, collecting the Horcruxes… sorry, magical pearls they need to rescue Keener, find the bolt and save the world.
Peaking around the midway point thanks to the aforementioned Thurman and an exciting face-off with a many-headed Hydra, /Percy/ flags during a dull descent into Coogan’s lair before a sub-Spider-Man finale above night-time New York. By then, however, this adap of the first tome in Rick Riordan’s five-book series has done its work, paving the way for an evolving franchise while cheekily spiking another studio’s guns.
While you suspect it’s really just a big Clash Of The Titans spoiler, there’s enough action in Jackson to make it succeed on its own terms. Lerman’s a likeable lead, though it’s the game supporting cast that keeps you watching.