Caroline the Future Librarian

Caroline Davis | LIBR 265-10 | SJSU | Wrenn-Estes

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Title: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Studio: Fox 2000 Pictures
Date: February 2010
Rating: PG
Runtime: 118 minutes

Plot Summary: Percy Jackson doesn’t consider himself to be particularly extraordinary – he struggles at school because his dyslexia and ADHD make it hard to focus and learn, and his home life isn’t much better because of his rude and boorish stepfather.  His life completely changes when he discovers that he is the son of a Greek god – Poseidon – and that Percy is accused of having stolen Zeus’ lightning bolt.  His life in danger, Percy escapes to Camp Half-Blood, a training ground for demigods like him, but not before his mother is taken by a raging minotaur.  After learning that Hades is keeping his mother as a prisoner, Percy and his friends Grover and Annabeth – a satyr and a daughter of Athena – take off on a cross-country adventure looking for Persephone’s pearls, which they need in order to safely escape the Underworld.  Can Percy save his mother, prove his innocence, and help return the lightning bolt?

Critical Evaluation: Based on the bestselling series by Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief brings Greek mythology into contemporary life by positing that the Greek gods and goddesses exist and are still having children with humans.  The movie bears a lot of resemblance to the first Harry Potter film, partly because the main trio consists of a protagonist with a revelation about his parentage and power, a strong female lead and a humorous sidekick, and in part because both movies were directed by Chris Columbus (not my favorite director, and some of the faults I had with Harry Potter were repeated in Percy Jackson).  I enjoyed the film overall, especially how cleverly Greek mythology was incorporated into a modern setting.  One of my favorite parts was the Lotus Casino in Las Vegas, meant to represent the Island of the Lotus Eaters from The Odyssey.  Although the books seem to be geared for a younger audience, the movie puts Percy in high school and would appeal to a broader age range, including older teens.

Annotation: Percy Jackson’s life is turned upside down when he learns that his father is the Greek god, Poseidon.  When he is accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolts, can he prove his innocence and save his mother, who is being held captive in Hades?

About the Director: Born in 1958 in Spangler, Pennsylvania, Chris Columbus studied film at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU.  He went on to work as a screenwriter on such projects as Gremlins, The Goonies and Young Sherlock Holmes before making his directorial debut in 1987 with the comedy Adventures in Babysitting.  Some of his most famous early films are Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire.

In 2001 and 2002, Columbus directed the first two installments of the Harry Potter films, then the 2005 musical film Rent, and the teen comedy I Love You, Beth Cooper in 2009.  Columbus is married and has four children, who occasionally appear as extras in his films.  He currently lives in Pacific Heights in San Francisco.

Genre: Action, Adventure

Curriculum Ties: Greek mythology

Discussion Ideas:
1) What kind of powers does Percy inherit from his father?  What kind of power would you want if you were the child of a god?
2) If you haven’t read the books, what do you think might happen next?
3) Would it be possible to have Egyptian or Norse mythology in a modern context?  What would that look like?

Interest Age: 12 and older

Challenge Issues: a drug-like substance, gambling

Challenge Defense Ideas:

• Become familiar with the film and its content.

• Refer to the collection development policy of the library, if none, see here to develop one right away.

• Refer to reviews available for viewing on

• Try to get reviews of the film from teens who have viewed it.

Selection: I went to see this film expecting (first of all, not to like it) that it would be geared for a young teen audience, and was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how it appealed to a broader age range than I anticipated.  I remember going to see Harry Potter in high school, I’m sure today’s students went to see this.


Official Movie Website

The Lightning Thief at

Trailer for The Lightning Thief:


May 7, 2010 - Posted by | Movies | , ,

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