Review: ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ is the best fantasy since Harry Potter

Like a mythical quest, Percy Jackson and the Olympians have taken the long road to get to this series. It may have taken time, but Percy Jackson’s arrival is a thunderous, thrilling triumph. When the first book was released in 2005, it created an entirely new fandom. Unfortunately, the 2010 film Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief didn’t work out quite as planned. While certain film elements were praised (Logan Lerman in particular), it deviated too much from the books, causing the second film to flop. Luckily, Rick Riordan and Disney finally got it right and are giving the fans the series they’ve been waiting for. Percy Jackson and the Olympians is the best fantasy since Harry Potter. 

The story of Percy Jackson and the Olympians

The story focuses mainly on Percy Jackson (Walker Scobell), a 12-year-old boy who has grown up hearing the stories of Greek gods and monsters. Percy has started to see things that others can’t see around him, which makes him think something is wrong with him. After a field trip goes wrong, his mother, Sally (Virginia Kull), takes Percy to the beach house where she met his father, Poseidon, the God of the Sea, played by Toby Stephens. 

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS - "Episode 102” (Disney/David Bukach) WALKER SCOBELL. Image courtesy of Disney+.
PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS – “Episode 102” (Disney/David Bukach) WALKER SCOBELL. Image courtesy of Disney+.

The Pros and Cons

The first aspect of the series I loved was the tone/style. The creatives didn’t try to make the series look bright and cheerful and made it just for kids. It has a slightly darker look to it that works very well. The visual effects were also impressive, especially for the Minotaur. The Volume was also used during production, and I can’t wait to see how they continue to use it. 

The series creators took casting very seriously; if they didn’t get it right, especially for Percy, the series wouldn’t work. Luckily, they struck gold (or lightning) when they cast Walker Scobell in the role. He was born to play this part and Percy and helps to ground the series to the real world. I appreciated how the story explored themes of neurodiversity and self-acceptance through Percy’s perspective. 

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS - "Episode 101” (Disney/David Bukach) GLYNN TURMAN. Image courtesy of Disney+.
PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS – “Episode 101” (Disney/David Bukach) GLYNN TURMAN. Image courtesy of Disney+.

The supporting cast also gets to shine alongside Percy, which is always wonderful. Glynn Turman does a wonderful job as Mr. Butler/Chiron, Percy’s Latin teacher, a centaur in disguise. It’s a very different portrayal of the character than Pierce Brosnan in the 2010 film, and it works much better. Mr. Butler has a genuine relationship with Percy, like a teacher who truly cares about their students. 

We also get to spend a little time with Aryan Simhadri as Grover Underwood, Percy’s best friend, who is secretly a satyr. In the Rick Riordan universe, satyrs, who are half goat and half human, use fake feet when they want to be human.  The goat legs on Grover looked good visually, and I like the performance so far, so I can’t wait to spend more time with him. In the pilot, Percy and Grover were great together. 

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS - "Episode 101” (Disney/David Bukach)ARYAN SIMHADRI. Image courtesy of Disney+.
PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS – “Episode 101” (Disney/David Bukach) ARYAN SIMHADRI. Image courtesy of Disney+.

The standout among the supporting cast is Virginia Kull as Percy’s mom, Sally. She is the protective mom to end all protective moms; no one is going to mess with her son or tell him something is wrong with him. You can feel her love for Percy, and she also gets to have some great comedic moments, especially when she’s bickering with her boyfriend. Still, her heart belongs to Poseidon, and it’s crystal clear when she describes him to Percy. The last performance we get a brief appearance from is Megan Mullaley as Mrs. Dodds, a math teacher who is Alecto, one of the Furies who serves Hades. I hope we get more from her because who doesn’t love Megan Mullaley?

Final Thoughts on Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Overall, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is the fantasy franchise we’ve been waiting for since Harry Potter. Kids and teens need to have something they can connect to, like my generation did with Harry Potter. This pilot episode, I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher world builds perfectly, and I can’t wait to see Camp Half-Blood and more Greek gods and monsters. Featuring terrific performances from Walker Scobell, Leah Sava Jeffries, and Aryan Simhadri and company, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a must-watch when the series premieres on Disney+. 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians will start streaming on Disney+ on December 20th.

The first two episodes of Percy Jackson and the Olympians will be available on Disney+ starting on December 20th. (Or, if you’re lucky, catch an early screening at a movie theater this weekend!) You can learn more about the series by visiting the official website.

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