The film is based on the bestselling book by Rick Riordan, and its plot brands Percy Jackson, our title-referenced hero (a static and about likeable Logan Lerman), as the lightning thief who's stolen Zeus' (Sean Bean) fabled lightning bolt. If the bolt isn't returned to Olympus, a celestial hovering edifice above Empire State Building, the gods go to war within themselves — without logic (apparently they're looking for ways to engage in catastrophic elemental wars).
Percy is the estranged high school-going human son of Poseidon (Kevin McKidd), one of the three ruling Olympian gods, and he is oblivious of his demigod status because of a law that keeps gods from contacting their mortal kins.
As a mortal (with an uncanny ability to breathe underwater), for the first 15 minutes Percy suffers from ADHD and dyslexia, which clears up with one of the most absurd big-screen reasoning ever. Being a teenager (in the book he is said to be 12, he's older here), he lives with his bedraggled mother, Catherine Keener, and grubby stepfather Joe Pantoliano, whose pungent smell helps keep his god-blood status hidden. That is until he is attacked by a mythical, scaly-winged fury, who happens to be his surrogate teacher. School teachers, even surrogate ones, were never this ugly (or as scaly).
Like most Greek heroes on a mission, Percy Jackson is stacked with firepower. His armoury consists of a backpack, a pen which snaps into a full gold-crusted blade, a broken shield which auto-fills its broken corners on danger, a glossy iPhone and a marauder's map which pinpoints location of teleportation pearls. All this plus Percy's ability to summon and control fantastic water-waves (which apparently no one cares to notice or capture to YouTube).
Naturally Percy needs sidekicks. They are Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) a wisecracking man-goat hybrid (called Satyr) who's also his guardian, and a sword-wielding near-girlfriend Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) who happens to be goddess Athena's daughter. There is also Luke (Jake Abel), Hermes son who can play multiple games simultaneously.
Like Percy, his sidekick-friends also have personal quests Annabeth has never been outside Camp Half-Blood, a secluded boarding school that trains Greek gods' children. Grover, being half-goat, wants to sprout his horns (that's about as sexually explicit as the movie gets).
Percy Jackson follows Eragon, The Golden Compass and Chronicles of Narnia in a bid to rake in some of Harry Potter's glory. In reality Percy Jackson is a close-relative of Night at the Museum and National Treasure in pace and nonsensicality. Like National Treasure, the clues are ridiculously easy to find.
Unlike Harry Potter, the movie relies on clichÃ©d, second-hand rudiments that have Percy and co. racing against time in a cross-country hop to get to hell where his kidnapped mother is kept by an unthreatening Hades (Steve Coogan). Along the way it is revealed that Hollywood has the pathway to hell, and Las Vegas has a casino designed to keep people there. During the movie Percy cares little about finding the actual lightning thief.
Percy Jackson also wastes actors with depthless, preformatted roles with little on-screen time. Amongst them are a leather-clad, dark-glassed and passionless Uma Thurman (as Medusa), a cantankerous Sean Bean, and an uncomplicated Pierce Brosnan as the centaur Chiron who trains Greek heroes by the dozens at Camp Half-Blood.
The camp is safe from godly intervention or global catastrophes, however, even its enchantments cannot buffer the film-makers from non-descript storytelling.
As a franchise starter, directed by Chris Columbus (the first two Harry Potter films), the film is a domesticated fantasy that's too aware of its PG-13 certification.