Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief premieres

Feb 12, 2010 at 2:16 a.m. ET

The director who kicked off The Harry Potter series now brings Rick Riordan's best-selling fantasy adventures to the big screen, but this isn't the start of another Potter adventure.

Our hero Percy is a normal teen facing modern demons like dyslexia and ADHD, until he learns his true lineage and finds himself facing demons of a mythological proportion -- literally. It turns out Percy's human mother (Catherine Keener) had a fling with Poseidon (Kevin McKidd), the Greek god of the sea, and Percy is actually a demi-god!

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

Percy's not alone and he also has special skills to make up for his shortcomings, which will come in handy as a feud erupts between the gods on Mt Olympus. Believing Percy's stolen Zeus' (Sean Bean) lightening bolt, Hades (Steve Coogan) kidnaps his mom, thrusting Percy on a quest finds the world's oldest weapon of mass destruction and save the world.

Fans of the books may be thrown by Percy's new age. Star Logan Lerman is 18, instead of 12, but Columbus maintains it was a necessary shift.

"It was a matter of reality, and some of the intensity of some of the scenes in the book," Columbus said in a press conference. "I was really thinking how they would play out in visual terms. I felt we would just add a little more weight to the entire cast, by casting Percy up a little bit."

With Columbus at the helm and a sequel already in the works, many are already making comparisons between Percy and the Harry Potter series. Columbus directed the first two Potter flicks and there are certainly similarities, but he insists this is a whole new game.

"I'm very happy with the film, very happy with the visual effects and very happy to say it's nothing like Harry Potter," Columbus promised. "I really haven't seen this particular version of a fantasy film before. The fact you are dealing with Greek mythology in a contemporary setting is exciting to me."

The star-studded cast also includes Uma Thurman as deadly Medusa, Pierce Brosnan as the centaur Chiron, Rosario Dawson as Persephone, Melina Kanakaredes as Athena and Serinda Swan as Aphrodite.

Percy hits theater Friday, February 12.

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