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Friday, February 12, 2010

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief Review

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is adapted from the first novel in the 5 book fantasy-adventure series written by Rick Riordan. Zeus, the head god of the Olympians, is seeking the return of the lightning bolt which is his weapon of power. He believes that Poseidon’s human son is the culprit and gives him 14 days before the solstice occurs to return the bolt or it will bring war between the gods.

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is your normal teenager in the modern world, but has an uncanny ability to stay under water for several minutes. He finds it relaxing and he’s able to think clearer. He has trouble in school because he believes he’s dyslexic and has attention deficit disorder. His best friend, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), uses crutches and is very protective of his friend. Percy’s mom, Sally (Catherine Keener), is living with Percy’s mean stepfather Gabe (Joe Pantaliano) much to his dismay and confusion as to why she would stay with such a jerk. On a school outing, the teacher Mr. Brunner asks him to identify a picture at the museum, and to Percy’s amazement, he could read the ancient Greek writings. The substitute teacher asks to speak to him privately in another room when suddenly she turns into this flying creature called a Fury who is demanding the lightning bolt. Obviously freaked and not knowing what she is talking about, he’s rescued by Mr. Brunner and Grover who discuss that the safest place for Percy right now would be The Camp. Grover tells his mom they have to get him to safety and she has to explain to Percy that his father is Poseidon (Kevin McKidd), god of the sea.

On the way to the Camp they are attacked by a Minotaur sent by Hades. It captures Sally and sends her to the Underworld before Percy kills the creature. Percy is safe in the camp from the beings seeking the lightning bolt. The camp is a training ground for the children of the gods and various other mythical creatures. Sort of like a medieval faire on steroids. At the camp, he finds out that his teacher, Mr. Brunner, is really centaur named Chiron. His best friend Grover is a Satyr and was assigned to be his junior level protector - that is until his horns grow in. He also meets Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), who is the daughter of Athena. Together with a map and flying sneakers from Luke (Jake Abel), the son of Hermes, they sneak out of camp in search for the Pearls of Persephone so they can escape from the Underworld once they rescue Percy’s mom who is being held by Hades (Steve Coogan).

Director Chris Columbus, who has directed Home Alone and Harry Potter, knows his way around material geared at younger viewers. The quest mostly centers on the trio of heroes collecting the Pearls around the country, meeting Medusa (Uma Thurman channeling her Poison Ivy from Batman and Robin), a Hydra, and Lotus-eaters. Some of these adventures may be a little too intense for younger kids. The special effects are good but won’t make you leave the theater going “wow”. The young actors are sufficient, but I don’t think I’ll remember them later. Interesting to see bigger named actors playing the gods like Zeus (Sean Bean) and Rosario Dawson as Persephone. They really don’t have much to do. They will probably try and build a franchise with the rest of the books which will hopefully encourage kids to read and investigate Greek mythology. Meanwhile I’ll wait for the remake Clash of the Titans. (Review by Reesa Cruz Hawkins of Dallas Movie Screenings)