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Vulcan Stev family movie review: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Starring:
Logan Lerman …  Percy Jackson
Brandon T. Jackson …  Grover
Alexandra Daddario …  Annabeth
Jake Abel …  Luke
Sean Bean …  Zeus
Pierce Brosnan …  Mr. Brunner / Chiron
Steve Coogan …  Hades
Rosario Dawson …  Persephone
Melina Kanakaredes …  Athena
Catherine Keener …  Sally Jackson
Kevin McKidd …  Poseidon
Joe Pantoliano …  Gabe Ugliano
Uma Thurman …  Medusa
Maria Olsen …  Mrs. Dodds / Fury
Julian Richings …  Ferryman

20th Century Fox * 118 mins * PG * 2010

Synopsis from IMDb: It’s the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson’s Greek mythology texts and into his life. And they’re not happy: Zeus’ lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Even more troubling is the sudden disappearance of Percy’s mother. As Percy finds himself caught between angry and battling gods, he and his friends embark on a cross-country adventure to catch the true lightning thief, save Percy’s mom, and unravel a mystery more powerful than the gods themselves.

VS: 1.55 pointed ears
Greek mythology has always fascinated me.  When I first heard about this movie I was intrigued, however, part of me wrote it off as a Harry Potter rip-off.  I was surprised to discover that there is in fact a book series upon which this movie is based.  So it can’t be a complete riff on the Harry Potter-verse.  Let’s face it, coming of age stories are coming-of-age stories regardless of the genre or the characters which inhabit them.  Similarities are going to abound regardless.  So we’re going to skip the fact that there’s a trio of heroes (two males and one female).  We’re not going to mention the act that our protagonist knows nothing of the world that he’s going to be pulled into.  And we’re going to gloss over the fact that our hero just happens to be one of the more powerful members of his new-found group.

Aside from a brief mention of the stolen lighting bolt bringing about a war of the gods,very little of e movie is actually devoted to the title piece.  Zeus automatically assumes that Percy (Poseidon’s son) has stolen it.  So naturally every mythological bounty hunter begins attacking Percy in the hopes of recovering it for Zeus.  Doesn’t Zeus lo-jack his lightning?  Persephone allows her pearls to be tracked via the Marauder’s… er a mystical map that Luke just happens to have in his collection.  For an all-knowing god, Zeus seems to be awfully short-sighted.  But the maybe it’s a good thing that Zeus doesn’t have a magical lightning tracer considering where the dumb thing finally shows up.

Percy also seems to be blessed by Fortuna the Geek goddess of Luck.  He doesn’t get in trouble for leaving the camp and embarking on his little solo quest.  Even though he and his friends are the subject of a nationwide manhunt nobody ever seems to recognize them or call America’s Most Wanted tip line.  Nobody seems to mind that Percy and his friends destroy at least one national landmark.  It’s also probably just a coincidence that the casino left the keys in that car.

I see a lot of complaints on the net about Olympus being attached to the Empire Sate Building.  The novels make it known that Olympus attached to the mortal plane a nonlinear fashion instead being anchored to the “Center of Civilization”.  I wish the movie had explained that little feature.  I’m also seeing complaints about the actors not being the age the characters are in the novels.  Director Chris Columbus has been quoted as saying that after Harry Potter, he was NEVER going to work with that many ten-year olds again.  Given the way the Potter actors have aged beyond their characters, I’m not going to fault Mr. Columbus on that one.

If this movie has one redeeming feature.  It is in the fact that both PITs have expressed an interest in actually reading the Percy Jackson novels.  I enjoyed the movie and cannot wait for the DVD.

Pvt Black Spartan: (coming) she’s on an FTX and will get us her review later.

PIT #2: 2 pointed ears
I liked the fact that the writer was able to bring the Greek myths and legends to life in 21st century America.  By using these archetypes there wasn’t a whole passel of exposition that need to be made.  The characters were believable.

PIT #3: 2 pointed ears
I didn’t hear any bad language in this movie.  I liked the fact that there was ZERO kissing in the movie.  This movie had awesome special effects.  I thought it was cool that they got James Bond to play Percy’s teacher.

I was so impressed with this movie that I actually want to go read the novels that this movie is derived from.  I can’t wait for Percy Jackson 2.

5.55 pointed ears out of 6 – A nice popcorn family friendly flick.  Take the time to see it while it’s in theaters but this a definite must-see on video.  Despite my complaints I really did enjoy the movie.  I sincerely hope that 20th Century Fox has the next “Potter” series here.

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March 24, 2010 - Posted by | Movie Reviews, Movies | , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. One of these days I swear I’m going to assemble a list of the top 100 “Boy Wonder Introduced to Magical Reality” stories that pre-date Potter. It’s not like Rowling invented the genre. It’s pretty well-trodden.

    I have to say that I enjoyed this movie. It was very light and campy. As a student of Greek mythology, I firmly took all of that and shelved it. Because, seriously, none of that movie made sense if you try to make the various figures actually fit their stories.

    The car in the casino was the biggest suspender-breaker for me. I mean, that was just plain goofy.

    Bits I loved? Using the back of the iPod to look at Medusa. The Lotus Eaters being in Vegas. The re-characterization of Persephone.

    Also, this movie had some awesome effects. From the moment Poseidon rises from the surf, and the water just falls off of him to reduce him to normal human size, the movie had me. There were several other bits that just looked great.

    Comment by Lugh | March 29, 2010

  2. Awesome effects? agreed. Did Rowling invent the genre’? I didn’t mean to imply that she did. It’s just that we have a threesome, of 2 guys and girl out on their little magical quest. That screams Harry Potter to me.

    Comment by Vulcan Stev | March 29, 2010

  3. I think that you are seeing similarities that aren’t really there. The dynamics between Percy and the hidden magical world is fairly similar to Potter. But the way the story is told is very different (Percy is on a hero’s journey, Potter is basically engaged in a murder mystery). The dynamics between the key characters is radically different. Percy and the satyr aren’t best friends. Harry and Hermione aren’t making googly eyes at each other.

    While Percy and Potter fall squarely in the same genre, I hardly think that makes one derivative of the other.

    Comment by Lugh | March 31, 2010

  4. Point taken. However I doubt that 20th Century Fox greenlit this movie without thinking “A-ha, now we have our own Harry Potter and Warner Bros. is done in two movies.”

    Studios greenlight projects because they think the American audience is stupid and won’t understand “new” concepts. Star Trek was marketed to NBC as “Wagon Train to the Stars”, Stargate SG-1 was originally marketed to Showtime as “Star Trek in the Air Force without the ship”.

    I have zero doubts that Percy Jackson was pitched as “Harry Potter with Greek Mythology instead of magic”

    My basic premise holds true. Bfore I actually saw the film, I wrote it off as Harry Potter rip-off. After seeing the film, I still noticed enough similarities to mention them in the review. I have no doubt that had PJ the movie series been produced before HP that we would’ve been talking about how HP seems to be derivative of PJ.

    Now, does this mean that I think PJ is a bad movie? no. I just think Fox only greenlit this movie because of it’s Potter similarities. (i.e. Studios loath spending money on flops.)

    Comment by Vulcan Stev | March 31, 2010


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