Percy Jackson is much like Mr. Rizwan Khan in My Name Is Khan. It even released on the same day, Feb 12, 2010 - worldwide. Like Mr. Khan, Mr. Jackson is also a minority (he is a demi God, half God-half human) and accused of doing something which he has not done. In MNIK, Rizwan Khan did this for his beautiful wife, Mandira. In Percy Jackson, the hero did it for his mother who happened to fall in love with Poseidon, the Greek God of the Sea.
In MNIK, Mr. Khan did it mostly alone, while in Percy Jackson, Mr. Jackson had to take help from other Demi Gods like him. While Mr. Khan suffers from Asperger's Syndrome, Mr. Jackson is a dyslexic kid, like Ishaan Awasthi in Taare Zameen Par and believe it or not, they even copied the special effects from TZP, where all alphabets keep changing their positions to give clues to the answer.
Like Harry Potter, he is unaware of his credentials, till he is under attack for a crime, he has not committed and whisked away to a Camp for Half Bloods like him. In the camp, after a brief training and finding his groove, Percy along with Annabeth, the daughter of Athena and a Satyr (half man-half goat) goes on a mission to retrieve the Lightning bolt and return to Zeus and also save the Gods from going to war.
The movie straddles the twin worlds as in Harry Potter, of taking us through modern America and Hades and Olympia. While the entry to Hell is right below the Hollywood sign, the entry to Heaven is on the top of Empire State Building, New York. During the journey across the United States, to get the three pearls to enter Olympia, I like the use of iPod in a few scenes as a reflective device as well as island of the Lotus Eaters, being transformed into Lotus Casino and Resorts in Las Vegas, where time stands still.
Pierce Brosnan as the Professor and the Chiron the mythical Centaur and Uma Thurman as snake haired Medusa do justice to their small roles. So does Sean Bean (Zeus), Catherine Keener (Percy's Mom) and Kevin McKidd (Poseidon).
The movie also has some customary gyan, with Poseidon apologising to Percy on behalf of being an absent parent or lauding the efforts of single parents. It also talks about taking your own path and making your own decisions, when Chiron praises Percy to have run away from the Camp on a mission to save his Mom.
While watching the movie, you can't help notice the similarities with Harry Potter franchise, but where it fails is...there are not as many layers to the story and the characters as in Harry Potter and if they want to build a successful franchise like Harry Potter, I think, some serious efforts are required to develop the screenplay and characters. While the special effects are good, it lacks the wonder element or the emotional connect, which is part of Harry Potter films. However, it's a good watch for all fans of Harry Potter genre as they await the next film due later this year.
Moral of the story: Not all demi-gods are terrorists...oops thieves! Some are good...and they have a message for the President of United States or the King of Olympia or even the rest of us.