Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Posted on at
pant pant colon The Lightning Thief
There's a lot of bad things to be said about Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and not just about its horrendous title. The flick's full of characters that find themselves in close-ups, flatly declaiming in the best Twilight fashion every single plot point with the expository efficiency of an elite military unit. We need to go get the three balls so that we can go to the place to fight the bad guy, who thinks I am the bad guy when in fact it is he that is the bad guy, for the following reasons: x, y, z. Let's get shields and swords from the shield and sword pile and and and... . The story's thin as a French pancake, with twists that are both predictable and out of the blue, with characters that abruptly careen into the action from way out in left field. It's derivative of and a poor, cheap imitation of the Harry Potter films - odd, given that director Chris Columbus is the man that helped launch that franchise as well.
Given all of that, the goofy plot, the awkward script and Hogwarts-made-of-cardboard-and-tape feel of the whole thing, the Percy Jackson movie does just enough stuff right. It manages to poke its lumpy head up high enough above the crowd of post-Potter knockoffs to be reasonably enjoyable.
It's the classic oldies hero jam: unsuspecting normal seeming teen dude is plucked up by fate and sent on his journey, where he attends a camp full of centaurs who teach him the moral and physical lessons he needs to know to destroy the bad dude.
It's all swaddled in the garb of the ancient Greek Gods - Zeus (Sean Bean) is seriously peeved at Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and the rest of the gods because someone stole his lightning bolt, and its up to the various demi-gods, their half-human sons and daughters who hang out down on earth learning to fight at picturesque "Camp Half-Blood" to get it back to him before he kicks up epic hell. In charge of the plan is Poseidon's son, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), whose true god-identity was hidden from him for some half-explained reason. Lerman is better than good as Percy, and he keeps things moving along over some rough spots with plenty of charisma and twinkle.
What makes the film work (even when it shouldn't) is its willingness to actually theoretically scare its tween audience. Percy and his comrades fight Hades, Lord of the Dead, a giant, angry minotaur and hydras galore, all of which are legitimately frightening and very neatly-handled (Percy overcomes Medusa by watching her in the reflection on the back of his iPod). It's thoroughly kid stuff, but thankfully not afraid to scare a kid where a kid needs to be scared and for that reason alone, it's worth seeing, at least, you know, if you're a kid. 6/10