A boy shielded from knowledge of his birth and extraordinary powers until adolescence, when he's sent to a special school and discovers a world of fantastical creatures and two best friends (a somewhat clueless guy and a smart girl). A book series that's sold millions worldwide and, despite its young adult category, has legions of devoted fans of all ages. A big-budget movie adaptation of the first book helmed by Chris Columbus. Sound familiar?
On the surface, Percy Jackson and the Olympians could be seen as Harry Potter 2.0, and that's a comparison the studio is certainly not shying away from. Heck, a lightening bolt (in the hero's hand rather than on his forehead) figures prominently in the first poster. And from the cast list, it's clear that Columbus has taken a page from Harry Potter, selecting an A-List cast for the adult roles and relative unknowns for the students. But here the universe is half-bloods, Greek gods, monsters, and a few mortals. Meet the main characters below.
Where you've seen him: As the young Ashton Kutcher in Butterfly Effect, the young Mel Gibson in What Women Want, and the young George Hamilton in My One and Only. Oh, and Christian Bale's son in 3:10 to Yuma.
In Percy Jackson: The demigod Perseus "Percy" Jackson, son of Poseidon and the mortal Sally Jackson. Like the other kids at Camp Half-Blood, he has dyslexia and ADHD. Unlike most, though, he's a child of "the Big Three" (Poseidon, Zeus, Hades), who supposedly had agreed to stop siring half-bloods.
Fatal Flaw: Personal loyalty — he'll sacrifice anything to save his friends and loved ones.
Weapon of Choice: Riptide, a sword that's magically enchanted to look like an ordinary ballpoint pen
Verdict: We're not sure that Mel Gibson, Ashton Kutcher, or George Hamilton are good role models for a demigod — or Christian Bale, for that matter — but Lerman's got the boy-next-store looks and, we hope, the charm to pull off Percy's sarcasm.
Where you've seen him: Most notably as Alpa Chino in Tropic Thunder and doing stand-up on BET's Comicview and other shows.
In Percy Jackson: A half-goat, half-human posing as a disabled student at Yancy Academy, with fake feet to hide his hooves. Grover's supposed to be guarding Percy, but the protection more often than not goes the other way. The two become best friends, with an "empathy link" established in the second book.
Fatal Flaw: Being a satyr, he doesn't technically have one, but he is pretty cowardly.
Weapon of Choice: Reed pipes that play songs with magical abilities, such as causing confusion and opening a path to the underworld
Verdict: Grover is the source of much comic relief, so it's nice to see a true comedian in the role. Jackson should do well playing a 28-year-old satyr with the maturity of a 14-year-old.
Where you've seen her: Lots of small roles, including in The Squid and the Whale and the TV shows Damages, Nurse Jackie, and White Collar
In Percy Jackson: Percy's other best friend, and his growing love interest, Annabeth's a demigod (daughter of Athena and a mortal father). She doesn't get along with her step family and ran away from home at seven, when her father remarried. Annabeth is a good fighter but dreams of being an architect.
Fatal Flaw: Hubris — Annabeth believes she can do anything, including rebuild the world better than what the gods created.
Weapons of Choice: Magic Yankees cap of invisibility and celestial bronze knife.
Verdict: Except for being tall, she doesn't exactly match the book description (blonde hair and gray eyes) and she seems a bit old. We're hoping she was picked because she brings the right the combo of smarts and tough girl — think Hermione Granger with hand-to-hand combat skills.
Where you've seen him: After his first role in the Disney Channel movie Go Figure, he's had a number of small roles, including in Flash of Genius, the TV shows ER and Cold Case, and the soon-to-be released The Lovely Bones.
In Percy Jackson: Not much is known about Luke's early life except that he's the son of Hermes who ran away from home at age nine. During his travels, he met up with Annabeth and Thalia (who doesn't appear in the first book, well, except as a pine tree). Luke's a counselor for the Hermes cabin at Camp Half-Blood.
Fatal Flaw: Make that flaws and, oh, where to start?
Weapon of Choice: Backbiter, a sword he forged that's half steel, half celestial bronze, giving it the power to injure both immortals and mortals. (And hint: Take special note of his weapon's name.)
Verdict: Looks-wise, he fits the bill for a guy all the Camp Half-Blood girls crush on, the one with surfer-like looks and speech.
Where you've seen him: Most notably as James Bond, starting with GoldenEye and ending with Die Another Day, and most recently as Sam Carmichael in Mamma Mia!
In Percy Jackson: The half-human, half-horse son of the Titan Kronos (an immortal centaur) who is disguised as a wheelchair-bound Latin teacher at Yancy Academy, where he first meets Percy. Turns out he's really the Activities Director and "trainer of heroes" at Camp Half-Blood.
Fatal Flaw: More like fatal birthright — his mother (Philyra) abandoned him at birth, disgusted by his appearance, and his father (Kronos) was an evil Titan perhaps best known for devouring his god children.
Weapon of Choice: No surprise here, this centaur likes his bows and arrows.
Verdict: Thankfully, Chrion doesn't sing in the books, so that's a good start. Beyond that, we're looking forward to seeing the half-horse transition.
Where you've seen her: Keener's probably best known for playing cold, intellectual beauties in Your Friends and Neighbors and Being John Malkovich.
In Percy Jackson: Once an aspiring writer and Poseidon's love interest, Percy's mom now works at the candy shop "Sweet on America." She spends the rest of her time trying to protect her son from monsters by hiding him in a series of private schools and keeping her despicable husband, Gabe, at bay.
Fatal Flaw: Like any good mother, she'd sacrifice anything and everything for her son.
Weapon of Choice: Medusa's head
Verdict: We're all for this choice — Keener should keep Percy's mom from being sickeningly sweet and one-dimensional.
Where you've seen him: The role of "Guido the Killer Pimp" in Risky Business first brought him fame. This character actor has brilliantly played a number of lowlifes, most notably Ralph Cifaretto in The Sopranos.
In Percy Jackson: He's Percy's stepfather, nicknamed "Smelly Gabe" because of his extreme B.O. The "charmer" also has been known beat and belittle Sally. What is a woman who once attracted Poseidon doing with this schmuck? (Well, turns out there's a good reason, but we'll hold back for spoiler reasons.)
Fatal Flaw: Since he's human, there's no "official" fatal flaw. However, Gabe is one uber-flawed human.
Weapon of Choice: His fist
Verdict: The role of Gabe calls for the same combination of cunning, sleaze, and volatility as Ralphie. Our pronouncement? Bada Bing!