Dir Chris Columbus US (PG12)
This mirthless, episodic fantasy saga is based on the young-reader book series by Rick Riordan. Mashing together the angsty adolescent intrigue of the Harry Potter films and the frigid-and-proud flag-waving of Twilight’s teenybopper epics, the film focuses on the underachieving Percy (Zac Efron look-alike Logan Lerman), who discovers he’s really a sword-swinging demigod.
The film works best when playing on the idea that no amount of bravado is enough to mask our desire for parental love. Yet it’s not enough to compensate for the computer-game-style plotting, which relies on us to pick up narrative nuggets that mechanically slot in like puzzle pieces later on.
And then there’s the rampant product placement: apparently, if you’re locked in a life-or-death struggle with Medusa (Uma Thurman), you can avoid her deathly gaze by using an iPod’s shiny backside as a mirror.