This week a trailer arrived for Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, the sequel to Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief which was undoubtedly hoped by Hollywood bosses to be the natural successor to the huge gap in the market that Harry Potter would be leaving once his franchise came to a close in 2011. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief bears many similarities with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

A few of the similarities include:

– based on a series of fantasy novels.
– directed by Chris Columbus
– main protagonists are two boys and one girl
– ensemble supporting casts of big name actors/actresses
– the two main characters both find out they have a great destiny to fulfil
– a place where special children (wizards/demi-Gods) train but muggles/mortals can not enter
– in the end, both title characters are praised for breaking the rules

These are just a few of the most obvious similarities between the two franchises but is Percy Jackson an apt replacement for Harry Potter?

In a not very successful attempt to distance itself from Harry Potter comparisons the protagonist is made older than his twelve year old novel counterpart in Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief and the producers went for one of the most promising young actors around: Logan Lerman. Lerman had already appeared in 3:10 to Yuma, The Number 23 and Gamer among others before landing the title role in the franchise which is obviously very different to Harry Potter‘s three unknown actors in main roles.

You can’t deny just how special the Harry Potter franchise is: it has spawned fans all over the world, touching billions of people with its themes of friendship, family and good vs evil. There are so many things now associated with the wizarding world of Harry Potter and, in my opinion, there is not going to be another franchise like it in our lifetime. So does Percy Jackson even come close to that?

The short answer is… no. But it’s a damn good attempt! Lightning Thief is a fast paced introduction to this incredible world where Greek mythology still has a huge part to play in the existence of our world. Percy Jackson is a very likeable character played brilliantly by Lerman and supported by a cast including Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Uma Thurman, Rosario Dawson, Steve Coogan and Kevin McKidd.

The story, although a little weak at times, takes the audience on a great journey and it becomes a film that is really well tied together. Some of the twists lack a punch and there is a bit of a lack of dramatic tension but the final product is a very enjoyable watch. The action sequences are really well choreographed, seeing Percy Jackson master his powers throughout the film instills a sense of fulfillment as well.

The Percy Jackson franchise is not going to span as long as Harry Potter nor gain as much success, but it provides something to fill the hole that the end of a franchise leaves inside all of its fans. There is a lot of fun to be had with Lightning Thief and I, for one, am looking forward to Sea of Monsters.

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