The gods are becoming an increasingly dominant force at the box office. Clash of the Titans was a box office success and a sequel is on the way. Immortals with Mickey Rourke is currently in production. And of course, we’re all looking forward to seeing Chris Hemsworth as the Norse God of Thunder, Thor, on the big screen in 2011. However, it was Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief that had an early advantage on Hollywood’s resurrection of the gods.
Released in theaters earlier this year, The Lightning Thief is the first film based on the popular young adult novel series by author, Rick Riordan, and will be released on DVD on June 29, 2010. My review of Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief after the jump:
Since it’s the first film in the series, The Lightning Thief obviously introduces us to the main character, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman). Percy is your typical, everyday, run of the mill teenager. He has trouble in school due to his dyslexia, lives with his mother and abusive stepfather in a small apartment, and constantly wonders when his life will improve. Well, it doesn’t take very long for Percy to learn that he is, in fact, special. Percy learns that he is the son of Poseidon, the God of the sea, and thus, a demigod…that is, half human-half god. It is upon this revelation that Percy’s world is completely turned upside down. He learns that things around him weren’t what they seemed. For example, his best friend, Grover (played by Tropic Thunder’s Brandon T. Jackson), is actually a satyr (half man/half goat) and Percy’s assigned protector. Percy also learns that he has been accused of stealing Zeus (the king of the gods)’s master lightening bolt, an incident that could lead to a war between the gods and the end of mankind. Percy finds himself whisked away on an adventure that has him doing battle with all kinds of mythical creatures, as well as the gods themselves, as he tries to both prove his innocence in the theft and save the world.
Having directed three of the Harry Potter movies, director Chris Columbus is clearly no stranger to bringing a popular young adult novel to life. However, even with its $95 million budget, the film seems to fall short of what it wants to accomplish in the visual effects department. The opening scene, in which a god-sized Poseidon emerges from the ocean, plays out more like a video game than a live action movie. Then again, it’s possible that the effects were more “cartoony” in order to help enhance the fantasy within the story. Once I took this into account, I began to enjoy the film a little bit more. I suggest you do the same when watching it.
The film comes fully stocked with a well-known supporting cast. Pierce Brosnan hams it up as a centaur who trains Percy (“I have a real horse’s ass”). Catherine Keener sticks to what she does best, playing a nurturing mother to Percy. Uma Thurman pops up for a short while (thankfully) as Medusa, providing another visual effect that was less than impressive. The snakes that make up Medusa’s hair had such potential, but were a massive letdown. Steve Coogan plays a more goofy than scary Hades, God of the Underworld. And finally, Rosario Dawson brings her sex appeal along as she plays Hades’s unwilling bride, Persephone.
The special features on the disc are miniscule. There’s a short special on bringing the book to life, which is actually fairly interesting. There are also a few deleted scenes that won’t surprise you to have not made the final cut. Finally, they’ve included a “Discover Your Powers” quiz for kids that will entertain them for about 45 seconds before they decide that drawing on the walls with crayons would be more entertaining.
All in all, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is a movie that is geared towards young adults and kids. For that demographic, the film is wonderfully entertaining. The story is simple to follow and its characters are over the top. Tween boys will love the action while tween girls will fall in love with Lerman’s baby blue eyes and Shia LaBeouf-like persona. However, for the rest of us, the plot is predictable, the jokes are corny, and although some of the effects are impressive, they mostly fall short of stellar.