Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief Movie Review

I'm sure whoever at 20th Century Fox greenlit Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief was thinking popular youth book, teenage heroes, and Greek mythology would be a great idea for a movie. Hey, hire Harry Potter's first movie director Chris Columbus and we got a franchise. Not so fast. It takes respect for the audience before you make a great franchise. And Percy Jackson doesn't have that.

The movie starts out with Zeus (Sean Bean) confronting Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and accusing his son for stealing his lightning bolt. He gives him an ultimatum to get the bolt back or there will be war.

You see Poseidon's son is Percy Jackson, (Logan Lerman) a very cute high school kid with ADHD. Ah, it's the magic of casting. Lerman's going to get all the teenage girls to watch this movie multiple times like Titanic. But I digress. A field trip to the museum and Percy is confronted by his substitute teacher who turns out to be a fury. Hey, I knew there was something wrong with substitute teachers. He's saved by a wheel chair bound Latin teacher Mr. Brunner, played by Pierce Brosnan who is probably wondering what happened to his James Bond gig. He reminds Percy's best buddy Grover (Brandon Jackson) who is a satyr, to protect him and take him to a training camp for the demigods. Percy's human mother (Catherine Keener) joins them on their way to the camp. However they are attacked by a Minotaur who takes mom to the underworld where Hades lives.

At the demigod training camp called Camp Half-blood, it's sort of like Hogwarts, Percy meets up with Mr. Brunner who is really Chiron, a centaur. What!? A centaur is a half man, half horse. Okay, how does he fit those horse's legs in the wheel chair? Oh forget it. Percy meets Annabeth, (Alexandra Daddario) a daughter of Athena and forced love interest. Hey, wouldn't it be cool to make Percy gay? We could call the flick, "Brokeback Mount St. Olympus." Okay, back to the plot. While at the camp, Hades makes an appearance and demands the return of the lightning bolt or Percy will never see his mother again. Percy decides to go to Hades and get his mother back. To do so, they must get Persephone's pearls. The pearls are the only means to escape Hades. You see Persephone (Rosario Dawson) is Hades' bored wife and she likes to bring lovers to Hades. So the lovers have to find a way back out of Hades. Now pay attention, young folks. Percy, Grover and Annabeth decide to make the journey. There are only three pearls.

The rest of the movie is about their heroic journey through America to find the three pearls, get to Hades, rescue mom and get the lightning bolt back. Fun fact here. I bet you didn't know the entrance to Hades was under the "Hollywood" sign in Los Angeles? Ha ha. Maybe those right-wingers are correct about the evil of liberal Hollywood? Never mind. The journey is littered with mythology's greatest hits. You want a hydra. Check. How about Medusa? Check. How about a campy Uma Thuman playing Medusa? Check. By the way, they should make a new Academy acting award for Uma. Best Head Without a Body.

The problem with Percy Jackson is the slam bang pacing. The movie feels like it's made for kids like Percy, i.e. those with ADHD. When Percy is at camp, he immediately knows how to wield a sword. What? No training montage? No. That would be too much exposition. Percy falls for Annabeth at first sight with no electricity between them. Oh, and the movie can be brain dead. Remember my point about Persephone's pearls? Sounds like a Jackson 5 song. Anyway, there are only three pearls to get our heroes out of Hades. Let's count. Percy, Annabeth and Grover. That's three. But they must also get mom out of Hades. Percy, Annabeth, Grover and mom. DOH! That's four. Um, somebody should have thought this one out.

IF you're a high school kid studying mythology, you might like Percy Jackson. If you're not, this movie is time filler.
The grade is C+.

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