Not every script in existence deserves to be compared to the "Harry Potter" movies, but attention must be paid - especially when it comes to any new fantasy film aimed at young adults.

"Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" is based on a series of books by Rick Riordan, the first of which appeared in 2005. The movie makes a Herculean effort to seem original; the results are more Sisyphean.

A normal American high schooler, Percy (Logan Lerman), discovers he is a demigod, born of Poseidon, and enrolls in a school for others like him. Its name might exasperate Potter fans: Camp Half Blood. There he trains under the centaur Chiron, played by a convincingly equine Pierce Brosnan. Percy also excels at a sport (capture-the-flag, disappointingly) and befriends demibabe Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario). Brandon T. Jackson, as Percy's satyr sidekick, provides the usual hip-hop sass.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Falsely accused of stealing Zeus' lightning bolt, Percy embarks on a quest, which gives director Chris Columbus (who also directed the first two "Harry Potter" movies) his chance to mix pop culture with Greek mythology. Percy scours U.S. kitsch capitals from Nashville to Las Vegas, searching for authentic treasures among the faux monuments. Uma Thurman shows up as a fashionista Medusa; Steve Coogan plays Hades in rock-and-roll drag.

Some of this is amusing, but none of it can substitute for the genuine magic of the "Harry Potter" films. Likable as Percy may be, it's not lightning he's stolen.