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'Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief'

January 17, 2010|By Rachel Abramowitz
(Michael Muller / 20th Century…)

CAST: Logan Lerman, Rosario Dawson, Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman, Catherine Keener. Directed by Chris Columbus.

BACK STORY: Based on the Rick Riordan bestseller, a huge fan favorite among 10-year-old boys, the film tells of young Percy, a fatherless kid suffering from dyslexia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, who discovers that he's actually the son of the immortal Poseidon and that the mythic Mount Olympus of Greek gods is alive and well and located on top of the Empire State Building. Accused of stealing Zeus' lightning bolt, young Percy (a few years older in the film than in the books) must clear his name to avert an all-out war among the immortals.

Updating Greek mythological lore to modern times has proven enticing for director Chris Columbus, who has a strong track record on family films with not only "Home Alone" but also the first two installments of the " Harry Potter" franchise. His vision of Mount Olympus is nothing like the old-fashioned "pristine white palace where everyone is sitting on clouds and playing the lute," Columbus says with a chuckle. "I wanted real gravitas and the feeling of having actually existed. We designed it with real weight and power."

FILM CLIP: Columbus notes that Percy's perceived weaknesses in the real world prove to be strengths in the realm of the gods. "Percy Jackson's brain is hard-wired to ancient Greek, which explains his dyslexia," he says. And his ADHD "is really his battle skills. Out of nowhere, he's able to battle the Minotaur."

NEXT: "Green Zone"
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