Now, it should come as no shock to you that I've read and loved pervious books in this series. It's a great work of children's lit that, like the oh-so-famous Mr. Potter, blurs the line between what is "for children" and what is for "adults." The characters were a lot of fun, the premise was thrilling (and a lot of fun) and the writing never took itself too seriously, to great effect. It allowed for some epic moments in a lighthearted framework.
So now I've seen the film adaptation of the first book in Rick Riordan's bestselling series, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Directed by Chris Columbus, who did the first couple of film adaptations for the aforementioned Potter, and with a cast headed up by Logan Lerman (you know, Christian Bale's kid from the remake of 3:10 to Yuma). It's clearly intended to be a series starter, which is good, because I want to see the rest of this series on film. I went in to the theater (crowded with pre-teen boys) expecting a failure of downright mythological proportions (pun sadly intended). But I was pleasantly surprised.
Clearly Chris Columbus should stick to family friendly fare, because that's how his best movies get made. Think about it: Harry Potter, Home Alone... that's some pretty decent stuff. The characters are nailed. I really like how they're depicted, even if they're a few years older than in the books. I could let that slide, probably because I've seen the trailers.
Bear in mind that this is a two hour adaptation of a 400 page book. So stuff gets left out. But I knew that would happen. There are some big things that have been left out, but nothing that will be too hard to add in the adaptation of the much shorter The Sea of Monsters. So I'm not too worried about the long range stuff. The other cuts I can understand why the filmmakers made. Which is a far cry better than some adaptations (here's looking at you, Eragon and A Series of Unfortunate Events and Inkheart).
The special effects work solidly, and the acting is satisfactory. I enjoyed seeing Pierce Brosnan as a centaur. Something about James Bond with half a horse's body is just hilarious, in context. And the spirit of the book is kept miraculously intact. In short, there's a fast-paced movie here that just might do well enough to get a deserved sequel, and it gets a lot more right than it does wrong.
My rating: 8/10
Coming Soon: The Green Mile.