Review: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning ThiefFeatured, Movies, Reviews — By Mike Ruest on February 23, 2010 at 3:55 pm
Being a fan of mythology thanks in part to four years of Latin in High School, I am always up for a good romp when it comes to a battle of the gods, mythical monsters, and legendary heroes. However, this made for tween movie is a poorly adapted and implemented film that seeks to win Harry Potter fans over while robbing us of any real movie magic.
The plot is about high school student Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) who discovers after an attack by his substitute teacher looking for Zeus’ stolen lightning bolt that the gods of Olympus are real and that his dad is Poseidon himself. Percy is then hurried away by Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) his guardian satyr friend in disguise and mother Sally (Catherine Keener) who take him to Camp Half-Blood – a training camp for demigods like Percy. It is here that he learns about his power and is joined by Annabeth Chase (Alexandra Daddario) to rescue his mother from Hades and solve the mystery of the true lightning bolt thief.
While the overall plot is grounded in Rick Riordan’s book, it also takes some huge steps away from it as well in terms of Percy’s age, where they go and why the lightning bolt is stolen in the first place, which only reinforced my feeling that this movie was made to order with tweens in mind. Which is why I am a little bit surprised about some of the sexually suggestive humor. Not to mention the experience these apparent high school students had in Las Vegas, which for me was a real stretch. In addition, some of the settings in the movie made me think that they were also stretched in terms of budget. Settings such as Camp Half-Blood just didn’t seem to convey the type of mythical prowess you’d expect in a film of this nature.
Speaking of the film, there were definitely some fun filled action moments. But I personally found the overall film lacking in substance in regards to its characters. In spite of the actors and actresses good performances, you never really got to know the characters themselves or sense the depth of urgency as to what a war of the gods would really mean for them personally. This is unlike the Sorcerer’s Stone (Philosopher’s Stone), which allowed audiences a chance to understand who Harry Potter is as a person, what his struggles were and what he wanted out of life. I guess I just never felt connected to the characters or cared if they succeeded or not. And that brings up another issue about characters – what about the mythical figures themselves – don’t these classical characters deserve fair treatment? I mean, sure the movie shows us the sibling rivalry and selfish nature of the gods, and treats us to some of the legendary figures such as Medusa, but never do we get a real sense of their power and personality other than, “Oh yeah they’re real.”
If I had to sum up my experience with Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, it would be this: it was like watching a high budget made-for-TV movie from Disney – a fun fantasy film mixed with some special effects – all in the hopes that tweens will beg their parents to let them watch it and buy the DVD.