Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

  • Review Date: February 11, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Too scary for younger fans of the popular books.
  • Review Date: February 11, 2010
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 119 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Along with all the positive messages of family loyalty and perseverance, comes the negatives: absentee parents, disobedient teens, teens who express dislike of their parents, and some rewards for negative behavior.  The underworld depicted seems like a place of torment for everyone. There's also some very reckless teen driving -- Grover falls asleep at the wheel and almost gets hit by a semi, and later teens speed down the freeway in a sports car.

Positive role models

Percy is a poor student coping with dyslexia and ADHD who discovers his heroic qualities. He also adores his mom and does everything to save her. While Grover is a good friend, he's also played as a womanizer. Annabeth is a strong female character who's great with a sword. But the fierce friendship that these three forge makes a much stronger impression in the book.

Violence

Battles with some mythological monsters are quite frightening. Some creatures are also demonic-looking -- like a gruesome fury, a giant Hades with skeletal wings coming out of a campfire, and scores of tormented fiery souls. Others are just large and violent, like a minotaur and a hydra with many snapping, fire-breathing heads. Medusa's head of snakes is severed and carted around. A car is thrown, limbs are hacked by swords, and two characters -- one monster, one human -- are impaled violently. There's lots of fighting amongst campers, with some blood (though Percy magically heals in water).

Sex

Gabe slaps Percy's mom's behind in front of Percy. Grover is all about the ladies -- he has a horde around him at a casino and asks jokingly, "Which one did I propose to?" after he tells Percy he's getting married. Persephone kisses Hades passionately, then turns her attentions to Grover saying, "I haven't had a satyr [pause] visit before."

Language

"Ass" a few times. "Highway to Hell" plays on the radio as the characters head for the underworld. A few uses of "God" as an exclamation. Plus insults like "bald-headed freak" and "little brat" exchanged between Percy and his stepfather.

Consumerism

Converse All-Stars should have their own credit (even though the kind with wings that the movie's characters fight in aren't for sale). An iPod is also an important part of the story. Also shown: a Mac laptop and a sports car. Plus shout-outs to The French Connection (original) and Mick Jagger.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Lotus flowers at the Lotus Casino are offered constantly to guests; they have a mind-altering effect that make patrons loopy and unaware of the outside world. Gabe drinks beer or asks for a beer in every one of his scenes. There are fruity-looking drinks at a bar in the Lotus Casino around teens.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this movie is an aged-up version of the Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief book that Common Sense Media recommends for readers 9 and up. Young hero Percy is now in high school rather than middle school; his satyr friend Grover loves the ladies; and a trip that Percy, Grover, and Annabeth take to a casino has a nightclub, a full bar, and trippy lotus flowers that all the patrons ingest (in the book, they play video and arcade games endlessly). Plus, the violence level is high for a PG-rated movie: Monsters are very frightning, especially the demonic ones -- like Hades aflame with skeletal wings and a fury sent to destroy Percy -- characters (monster and human) are impaled and slashed at with swords, and Percy's mom is crushed by a minotaur and taken to the underworld. After Medusa's head is severed, it's dragged along on the road trip to Hades.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Seemingly normal (albeit dyslexic) D student Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) realizes that something is very wrong when he's attacked by a demonic beast during a class trip and whisked away by his mother (Catherine Keener) and friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) to a secret camp. He wakes up in an infirmary like no other, teeming with teens in Greek battle gear, as he remembers with a jolt that he fought and killed a minotaur ... but only after it took his mother to the underworld. Grover, now sporting the goat hooves of a satyr, leads Percy through camp explaining that he's actually half-god -- and his parent isn't just any god, but sea king Poseidon. But before Percy can even break in his new bunk, Hades accuses him of stealing Zeus' master lightning bolt. So Percy decides to go to the underworld to find the truth and save his mother. Grover and daughter-of-Athena Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) decide to go with him, armed with a magic map from senior camper Luke (Jake Abel) that will lead them to three special pearls -- the key to getting out of the underworld alive. Too bad Luke didn't warn them about what was guarding the pearls -- they'll have to fight Medusa (Uma Thurman), a hydra, and even lotus flowers to get to the underworld and back before the gods' petty fighting destroys the earth.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Kids have been waiting for this movie adaptation for a long time. Too bad they'll likely be disappointed, especially if they love the book series. The filmmakers had a great formula on their hands: Rick Riordan's fanastic story, which puts mythology in modern times, adds a bit of sass, and makes a hero of a dyslexic Everykid; Chris Columbus, the director of the first two Harry Potter movies, at the helm; some great monster special effects; and some great actors, even in the supporting roles (Pierce Brosnan, Thurman, Keener, Joe Pantoliano). But the script is a mess; too many liberties were taken with the original plot, which, with its search for the three pearls as the focus, now seems more like a Dora the Explorer episode with expensive special effects.

And the decision to make the main characters teens instead of tweens was a bad one. It keeps the three cross-country travelers from developing as friends on their quest. Annabeth is simply some hot girl who's great with a sword, and Grover puts all his energy into wooing the ladies. The book saga is a friendship tale at its heart, and that's just not here. And even if you're in it just to watch kids have fun slashing the heads off of a hydra or climb Mt. Olympus above the Empire State Building, the special effects work is uneven. The gods as giants look quite fake, making an important scene where Percy meets his dad fall flat -- but at that point most viewers will already be beyond being disappointed.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the book vs. the movie. So much was changed here -- the characters' ages, the plot, the places they visit, etc. Was it still the movie you were hoping for?

  • Talk about the scare factor. Did anything make you hide under your chair? What mythological monsters would you least like to see in the real world? Does fantasy violence have the same impact as more realistic violence?

  • Who are your favorite hero characters? Do they usually have humble beginnings, thinking they're nobody special, or do they always know what they're destined for? How many of your favorite heroes are girls? Boys?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:February 12, 2010
DVD release date:June 22, 2010
Cast:Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, Logan Lerman
Director:Chris Columbus
Studio:Twentieth Century Fox
Genre:Fantasy
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures, Book characters, Friendship, Great boy role models
Run time:119 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:action violence and peril, some scary images and suggestive material, and mild language

This review of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 12 year old Written byMom of 3 munchkins March 14, 2010
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

Fine for older kids, but not for those under 13.

This movie definitely should have been rated PG-13! I took my 12 1/2 year old nephew to see it, as he has read all of the books in the Percy Jackson series. Not only did he agree that it should have been a PG-13 movie (and he has seen all of the Harry Potter movies), but he also did not think it was nearly as good as the book. He thought the special effects were very cool. My 10 year old son just finished reading the book, but I will NOT be taking him to see this movie. Its portrayal of women was offensive (most of the women are portrayed as sex symbols) and the scene at the casino in Vegas was entirely inappropriate for children 12 and under.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 8 and 11 year old Written bypoorhaus February 12, 2010
AGE
11
QUALITY
 
My 11 year old son and I LOVED the books and were so excited when we heard a movie was being made. We made it a special event to attend the midnight opening and waited in line to get our seats. We were so disappointed that the movie WAS NOTHING like the book! Too fast-paced in the beginnning, there was little time for character development. The kids were too old, key characters were left out, and the storyline was far off from Rick Riordan's witty, entertaining adventure. Intense monsters, mild language, and sexual innuendos make this a no-go for my 8 year old daughter who so desperately wants to see it. It's too bad they didn't stick to Riordans original story. 'That would have been a huge success. Those who have not read the series may enjoy the action-adventure and be entertained by the cg effects, but fans of the Percy Jackson series will be left feeling ripped-off and disheartened.
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Parent of a 11 year old Written byjimsaaa February 13, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 
As a mother of a 10-year-old boy (huge fan of the series) and an elementray school Librarian (Have many fans... could hardly keep the books on the shelves!), this movie was a huge disaster! What a shame to have amazing material to work with and turn out such a lack-luster movie. The movie could stand alone from Rick Riordan's books - as the only commonality was the characters names. I sure hope that Mr. Riordan was paid well for the rights... because his hard work was definitely not rewarded by this movie. I strongly recommend reading the books and skipping this movie - or waiting until someone in Hollywood gets the message and makes a new movie actually based on the book!
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking

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