Saturday, February 13, 2010

Movie Review: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Chris Columbus the man who brought us the fictional worlds of a kid left behind saving his house from robbers, a father who is able to get in and out of a fat suit in five minutes to pretend he's his kid's nanny and a boy scarred for life using magical powers to try to dispatch a bad guy now brings us into the world of Greek gods about to wreak havoc on Earth because the head guy's biggest, baddest weapon, has gone missing; someone has stolen it.

So before the remake of The Clash of the Titans comes out, a movie based on the Greek gods and their kids hits the screen first, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.

This story takes place in today's world except the Greek gods, their children by mortals otherwise known as demigods, minotaurs, satyrs, centaurs and other such beings exist. Maybe not widely known to all, but living among us. Just as Chris Columbus brought the first two Harry Potter movies to life with the magical wizarding world living among us he works his skills to bring the gods alive. Columbus knows how to work the mystic creatures and locations to life on the screen to breath life into this fantasy world.

Zeus (Sean Bean) is ticked off because his lightning bolt has been stolen. He accuses his brother Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) of taking it. He reminds Zeus that he cannot have taken it but Zeus reminds Poseidon that it's possible for their children to take it. Zeus sets a deadline. If he doesn't have the lightning bolt back by the summer solstice the gods will be going to war. Enter Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), a boy who is having problems in school with dyslexia and ADHD, doesn't like his step dad (Joe Pantoliano), and has a best friend Grover (Brandon T Jackson) who times Percy staying under water for over seven minutes. Could Percy and Poseidon be related? Well, heck yeah otherwise we wouldn't have a film now would we?

Early on it's obvious that Percy couldn't have stolen the lighting bolt but everyone thinks he has. Hades (Steve Coogan), Zeus' and Poseidon's other brother, believes it enough that he kidnaps Percy's mother Sally (Catherine Keener) who he holds captive in the underworld with him. Hades wants to trade the lightning bolt for her. Thus like any hero Percy sets off on his own odyssey to get his mother from the underworld back into the world of the living with Grover and another helper by the name of Annabelle (Alexandra Daddario) joining him in his quest. But will he figure out what going on before the Olympians deadline causing heaven and earth to clash? Therein lies Percy's problem.

The movie has a lot of fun in it. Just the idea that the Olympian gods still exist presents an idea to ponder. During Percy's quest he comes up against people and creatures that are the savory parts of stories that I enjoyed as a kid. I wanted to learn more about theses characters from young kid days that I took a course in Greek and Roman mythology in college. With the computing power that is available Columbus gets us to believe that controlling water, Mt Olympus and these fantastical creatures do come to life in our world. If you aren't careful, you might actually learn a little bit about Greek mythology during the course of the two hour running time of the film. A number of other stars including Pierce Brosnan, Rosario Dawson, Uma Thurman, and Melina Kanakaredes add to the cast to bring more of the mythical world to life.

In the way of flaws, the acting at times did seem a little stiff between crusaders as they worked their way out of tight situations. The editing could have been a little smoother as there were a couple of scenes that seemed like some part of the set up was missing. Kinda like in Goonies when Data mentions battling the giant squid. What squid, we didn't see any squid, never mind a GIANT squid. Maybe they'll be on the directors cut when the DVD and Blu-Ray discs come out in a few months. AND if Disney gets their way with the Alice in Wonderland movie coming out on March 5, several weeks will be taken off the waiting time from film release until a person could own the film for their own library.

Columbus did a good set up with the movie explaining relationships and characters so that if the box office numbers are good, and I think they will be good, there will be a sequel based on one of the other books in the series written by Rick Riordan.

The movie is rated PG for some scary images, action violence, peril and some suggestive scenes. Make sure you stay after the end of the story and the credits role. There is an Easter egg that was pretty good!

As a side note, someone who saw the picture before I posted it into this posting asked, "What's 3D golf?" The kids play center had just opened a month or two ago so I asked. Apparently you wear 3D glasses as you play mini golf. Along the course are pictures that will appear 3D. I didn't verify this as I didn't want to pay $5 bucks or so to find out.