Making the Grades
If you haven’t read the book by Rick Riordan upon which this movie is based, it might not hurt to brush up on Greek mythology before heading off to the theater to watch Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) and the Olympians battle it out over a stolen lightening bolt. It makes more sense when you remember Zeus (Sean Bean), Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and Hades (Steve Coogan) are brothers and that sibling rivalry is at the heart of this brawl.
Unfortunately Percy, the son of Poseidon, doesn’t know anything about his unusual parentage or the real identity of his buddy Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) who attends school with him. Dealing with dyslexia and ADHD makes getting through class challenging enough for the teen and going home is no easier. He and his mother (Catherine Keener) live with an abusive stepfather/husband (Joe Pantoliano) who constantly reminds the pair they are lucky to have him, while demanding their servitude and obedience.
Then one day while on a fieldtrip to a Greek history museum, Percy is suddenly attacked by his substitute teacher (Maria Olsen) who turns into a hideous winged creature. Though he is shocked by the experience, he is even more taken aback when he discovers his true identity and learns that he has been accused of stealing Zeus’ lightening bolt. With his uncle’s minions constantly trying to kill him, Percy is whisked off to a safe retreat in the middle of the woods where he meets hundreds of other kids who are also the offspring of a Greek god and human parent. Given a sword and body armor, Percy is immediately thrown into hand-to-hand combat training with other young demigods including Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), the beautiful and skillful daughter of Athena (Melina Kanakaredes).
But practicing his swordsmanship seems a waste of time when Percy finds out his uncle Hades is holding his mother in the underworld. With plenty of adolescent bravado in play, Percy sneaks out of camp with Annabeth and Grover to rescue the captive. The journey they embark on allows for the introduction of numerous other mythical figures like Medusa (Uma Thurman), Persephone (Rosario Dawson), Aphrodite (Serinda Swan), a Minotaur, and five janitors who morph into the fearsome, multi-headed Hydra. The teens also become caught in a drug-like trance after eating lotus flowers in a ritzy Las Vegas casino. Finally breaking free of the stupor, they find themselves back on the road but with limited time to rescue Percy’s mom and prevent a brewing war between the Olympians.
Fortunately the script contains only brief sexual innuendo and discussions, and infrequent profanities. However the clashes between humans and mythological creatures include depictions of bloody injuries, weapon use (mainly swords and knives) and many moments of peril. In one scene a female character is decapitated and although there is no gore accompanying the portrayal, the lifeless head is repeatedly seen throughout the rest of the film.
In the same manner that National Treasure rekindled an interest in American History and Night at the Museum became an ad for New York’s Museum of Natural History, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief may spark curiosity about the ancient Greeks who ruled the world from their thrones atop Mt. Olympus.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.
Why is Percy reluctant to take on his role as the son of Poseidon? Is it sometimes difficult to live up to parental or familial expectations?
Why does Percy’s mentor Chiron (Pierce Brosnan) believe training is so important? What life skills can teens practice before leaving home to help them be more prepared for adulthood?
What challenges of single parenting are portrayed in this film? What sacrifices does Percy’s mother make for him? How does Percy show his devotion for his mother?
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is based on a novel by Rick Riordan.