lightningthiefmovieThis was the most fun I’ve had at the movies in quite a while.

I was getting really nervous about the film adaptation of one of my absolute favorite children’s novels of recent years. I love all things Percy Jackson, and I’ll go ahead and commit the blasphemy of saying that at times I love him even more than Harry Potter. I am a huge HP fan, too, but sometimes those books (and movies) can be so English that I myself start to feel like I have ADHD. Hermione’s restrained indignation, Snape’s perfectly articulated villainy, Harry and Ron’s wide-eyed, schoolboy senses of humor. Sometimes I want to bury myself in those characters and not come out, and sometimes it all just makes me…itchy. So when Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson, a street-smart New Yorker with a more relaxed, jeans-and-hoodie sense of humor, burst onto the literary scene with The Lightning Thief, it was kind of like exhaling for a Jersey girl like myself. It was funny, quick, mischievous, and with just enough attitude to appeal to me. Percy Jackson is my people. So the film adaptation is a big deal.

But I was hearing mixed reviews about it. And I was struggling with the idea of Percy starting the series as an older teenager when in the first book he’s only 12. How would they get this right? Especially since there are plenty of things about the series that you have to take with a grain of salt. On film they’d be a little more blaring. Like the whole parental abandonment issues, the gods-as-parents stuff. I’m still struggling to figure out how the goddesses give birth to demigods the same way human women do. Wouldn’t a goddess’s womb be more, I don’t know…mighty than a human woman’s? Somehow it just doesn’t seem fair to us mere mortals. The series also skips over all the unpleasant incest among the gods, like Zeus marrying his sister Hera. And in actuality the plot of framing Percy for the theft of Zeus’s bolt really is just a reason to introduce him to this world. The reasoning behind the plot isn’t particularly hefty, but it moves things along.

Anyway, with the books you sort of just accept all of these things as edited for the preteen set and run with it. You let the action, the characters, the fast pace, and the fun wash over you. I didn’t know if the movie could translate that. But it can. Logan Lerman is a phenomenally good Percy Jackson. He brilliantly manages to be just the regular kid thrust into an extraordinary situation, but it turns out there’s something pretty special about him after all. Every new detail he learns, every change to his life, is believable. The film moves at a lightning pace (pardon the pun), so there is plenty of series development in the book that just doesn’t have time to unfold slowly in the film. Answers are quick, explanations are accepted to make room for the next incredible thing Percy learns/does. He’s dyslexic because his eyes are always trying to turn words into ancient Greek? Okay, done. Moving on. His mom married his horrid stepfather to hide and protect him? Huh. Explains a lot, let’s keep it moving. But Lerman handles it naturally, and so I was okay with that. It was all so much fun that I was happy to just take the ride. I loved the supporting characters (Uma Therman is so over-the-top that I couldn’t stop giggling with delight), and the straight men (mom, Annabeth, Chiron) added some gravity without weighing down the whole thing. It just kept moving, and that’s exactly what I wanted it to do. Purists will certainly find plenty of fault, but I can’t say that I do. I hope they make more films. And soon.