Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

Reviewed by Eric Larsen

Rated PG. Our Ratings: V-3; L-1; S/N-2. Running Time: 1 hour 58 min. Themes: Identity, Family, Belonging

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.
2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Percy Jackson has an unusual lineage.

2010 20th cenyury Fox

Director Chris Columbus brings us his adaptation of the first book of the “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” series, The Lightning Thief. Someone has stolen Zeus’ thunderbolt and, as he tells Poseidon atop the Empire State Building at the start of the film, he believes it was his nephew, Poseidon’s son. If it’s not returned in fourteen days, Zeus declares there will be an all out war of the Greek gods.

Percy Jackson grew up not knowing his father. He lives with his mother in a little apartment in New York with his abusive step-father. He has dyslexia, ADHD, problems in school, and wants nothing more than for his step-father to treat his mother well. He does have a gift for being able to sit underwater, the one place that he can think clearly, for remarkable amounts of time.

On the one hand, this is a film to just suspend disbelief and enjoy. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but look at how the contrasting Greek mythology ordered the universe of the film and think about the differences and parallels to our own faith tradition.

Something I loved about this film is how our perceptions of people are challenged. The differently-abled are the stars of the film, and there is most definitely a strong, smart female as one of the lead characters. In fact, we are continually challenged for only looking skin deep.

For Reflection/Discussion

Spoiler Alert, especially in Q. 3.

1. Percy wonders out loud how Grover can protect him when Grover uses crutches to walk. How do we put limits on ourselves and those around us? How do stereotypes fail to show the whole person?

2. Percy’s perceived weaknesses (ADHD and dyslexia) become his strengths in his adventures. Paul writes that God used Paul’s weaknesses to further the gospel. The same could be said for Moses, Jacob, Abraham, and many other Biblical witnesses. How does this affect how we look at and live with our perceived weaknesses?

3. Grover agrees to stay behind in Hades. What do you think about this offer of sacrifice? How have you been able to be a support to your friends or found great help from someone you’d least expect it?

4. Percy and his friends end up getting caught up in the temptations of the casino. How do we get wrapped up in what is not important when we have responsibilities or our own? How have you learned to move past societies’ lures to live as a disciple?

5. It was said that all human life ends in suffering. How does this vision of death and the afterlife conflict with the Christian faith?

6. This film showed how parents/Greek gods seemed distant to children. What reminders do you have that God is not distant from us?