This movie is based on a series of children’s books by Rick Riordan. It opens with Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) appearing out of the sea and making his way to a meeting with Zeus (Sean Bean). Zeus is angry because he believes that Poseidon’s son has stolen his lightning bolt. Poseidon is given an ultimatum: his son has 14 days to return the lightning bolt or there will be war.
Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is having trouble at school. He is dyslexic and has been diagnosed with ADHD. Home is not much better. He loves his mother, Sally (Catherine Keener), but hates his stepfather, who is a beer-drinking bully with no respect for Sally. Percy is happiest in water where he feels relaxed and can think. He often spends time sitting on the bottom of a swimming pool.
Percy’s whole world is suddenly turned upside down with a visit to a museum of ancient history. His substitute teacher calls him into a room to discuss something. She then turns into a monster and attacks him, trying to get the lightning bolt, which Percy has no knowledge of. Percy is rescued by his school friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), who is on crutches, and also by wheelchair-bound teacher, Mr Brunner (Pierce Brosnan). Percy now discovers that his father is Poseidon. This makes Percy a demigod. Grover turns out to be a satyr who is, in fact, his protector. Mr Brunner is a centaur.
Grover and Percy’s mother take him to Camp Half Blood where there are others like him. Here he can be kept safe and trained for his life as a demigod. On the way they are attacked by minotaurs, and Sally is seized. At the camp, Percy meets Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), the daughter of Athena. Hades (Steve Coogan), who kidnapped Percy’s mother, visits the camp. He offers to exchange Sally for the missing lightning bolt. Along with Annabeth and Grover, Percy then sets out to rescue his mother and prevent war between the gods.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Greek mythology; separation from a parent
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
This movie includes frequent violence, much of it involving fantasy beings and the main characters. For example:
- Percy’s substitute teacher turns into a monster and tries to attack him.
- When Percy’s stepfather threatens him, Grover, the satyr and bodyguard, hits him with his crutches.
- Minotaurs chase Percy, his mother and Grover. They seize Percy’s mother, and she disappears in flames.
- Annabeth fights Percy. Although they are training, he is cut in several places.
- Medusa, who has a head full of snakes, uses her eyes to turn a woman into stone.
- A hydra, who has several fierce-looking heads, attacks one of the characters.
- Athena shoots the cleaners in the Parthenon with drugged arrows. They collapse as if dead.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to its violence, this movie’s atmosphere is dark and suspenseful. It contains many images of transformations and scary fantasy beings, as well as settings that are likely to disturb children. For example:
- In the opening scene, the gigantic figure of Poseidon rises from the sea, terrifying a fisherman.
- Percy’s teacher turns into a monster.
- The monstrous Hades leaps out of the fire at the camp, looking for Percy.
- Hades’ underworld is full of skulls, fire and ‘burning souls’. In this world, Hades at first looks like an ordinary man. He then transforms into the monstrous being seen earlier.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by some of the scenes described above.
Most children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
This movie contains some sexual references. For example:
- At the camp, Grover sees some girls in bikinis and hurries over to them.
- Grover has to stay behind in Hades until he can be rescued. Persephone suggestively offers to ‘look after him’.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie contains some use of substances. For example:
- Percy’s stepfather is always asking for beer.
- The lotus flowers in a casino in Las Vegas are drugged in some way to make the people stay there forever.
- People drink and gamble in the casino.
Nudity and sexual activity
None of concern
The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Dodge trucks, Maserati sports cars.
This movie contains some coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is a fantasy adventure story based on Greek mythology but set in the 21st century. It is likely to appeal to fans of the book series and teenagers.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include the importance of friendship, and the bond between a mother and child.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about the following real-life issues:
- the use of violence to solve conflict
- the difficulties of being a parent and doing the right thing for your children
- family conflict.