Percy Jackson

2 minute read
Belinda Luscombe

Percy Jackson is no Harry Potter. He’s American, dyslexic, and his best friend is half goat. On the other hand, he has unusual parents, he’s supposed to decide the fate of the world, and there is a series of best-selling books based on his teen years. With the Feb. 12 release of the movie Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, he has a chance to notch up another similarity. Can Jackson conjure up anything close to Potterphilia?

The auguries are mixed. The Percy Jackson books, written by Rick Riordan, a former high school teacher now based in Texas, became a word-of-mouth sensation after the first one hit shelves in 2005. Parents loved that they were based on Greek myths: Percy (played by Logan Lerman in the movie) is actually Perseus, a demigod son of Poseidon. He faces down remodeled versions of such perils as Medusa (in New Jersey), the land of the lotus eaters (in Vegas) and Ares, the god of war (a Hell’s Angel). Olympus is on top of the Empire State Building. Hades is in Los Angeles.

But kids had plenty of reasons to love the books too. Percy hates school, has a lot of attitude and is given to back talk. His first supernatural act in the book is to make a toilet violently discharge its contents over an adversary–an episode that was, probably wisely, omitted from the film. Even the gods come off hipper, and enhanced by mnemonic imagery. Who could forget that Apollo is god of the sun after he turns up in a flying red convertible Maserati Spyder?

Popular as he is among tweens and those who read to them, however, Percy’s appeal may not extend beyond that group. The weekend before the movie’s opening, about 600 fans turned up for an event in Atlanta, far fewer than your average Potter or Twilight draw. Then again, the franchise passes at least one Hollywood test: two of the film’s stars, Pierce Brosnan and Kevin McKidd, signed on because their kids love the books.

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