Columbus is not the enemy. At least, he isn’t anymore. Though he stuffed multiplexes full of noxiously sentimental pap during the 1990s (his up-for-debate nadir being either Stepmom or Bicentennial Man), and got Devin’s beloved Harry Potter franchise off to a soulless start with those forgettable first two entries, he surprised some of us two years ago with his sporadically heartfelt big-screen version of Rent. Also, no matter how bad he was a decade ago, his worst offenses are nothing compared to what passes for bloated family entertainment nowadays (insert Shankman/Levy/Robbins atrocity here).

Oh, but he did produce A Night at the Museum, didn’t he? That complicates things.

Let’s try this again. Despite his past offenses (of which there are many), I’m going to pretend that Columbus turned a corner with Rent because I’ve never been comfortable hating the writer of my beloved Gremlins (no matter how much of what I love about it belongs to Joe Dante and Chris Walas). And while I’m a bit weary of all the children’s literature being read by adults in lieu of novels that might actually encourage a little emotional maturity, film adaptations of such material don’t bother me in the least – better to spend two hours with kid’s stuff than a week’s worth of reading.

Which brings us to Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, the first in a series of books by Rick Riordan in which select children turn out to be the sons and daughters of Greek gods. Thus making them superheroes, I suppose. Sounds so-so, but I do know Columbus has long wanted to make a comic book movie (he circled Fantastic Four), so maybe he can have a bit of fun with this. There used to be a subversive bent to his writing back in the 80s; is it too much to ask that the guy smuggle in something of interest into his screenplay?

The Lightning Thief, which Columbus is thus far only directing and producing (he may hire out the writing chores and perform some uncredited rewrites once he has a draft he can work with), will be made through Fox 2000, with Greg Mooradian and Karen Rosenfelt also onboard as producers. Those of you who love or hate the source material can sound off on the message board. As for taking the piss out of Rent… go ahead and beat up on the retard if you must, but I liked it, goddamn it.