Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians- The Lightning Thief

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief | Chris Columbus, 2010

In 2001, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring came out and immediately became two of the biggest franchises in the history of cinema (Potter is as of now the biggest). Since then, studios have tried to introduce the next big thing, but most of them have failed. The Chronicles of Narnia is the only other one that had success with the first entry, but the second one was a drop in quality and other summer releases buried it, which caused Disney to dropped it and FOX to pick it up. His Dark Materials should have made it past The Golden Compass despite the fact that it flopped in the US. But if New Line wasn’t brave enough to stay true to what the book is about from the get go, I doubt the others would have been any better.  Percy Jackson & The Olympians is the latest attempt at becoming the next Harry Potter. But just because you have a very Potter-esque story and the director of the first two doesn’t mean that success will be the same. And so it wasn’t. Critics killed it and it just had OK box office. Thank goodness, because I don’t think I would have been able to sit through more of these.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief takes place in New York and is about Greek mythology. It opens with Poseidon (Kevin McKidd, who can’t seem to cath a break after “Rome”) coming out of the water. He makes his way to the Empire State Building to meet with his brother, Zeus (Sean Bean). There Zeus says that his lighting bolt has been stolen and he blames Poseidon’s half-human kid. He says that if it is not returned in 14 days, there will be war. Then we meet Poseidon’t kid, Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman). He doesn’t know he is a demigod, just that he has a lot of mental issues and that he feels at home underwater. He is always accompanied by  Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), a guy on crutches. Later in a visit to a museum, he is attacked by a fury and is saved by Pierce Brosnan in a wheel chair. Because of the attack he is forced to go to “Half Blood Camp” (real subtle) where demigods live and train to fight and be heroes. Even there people bother him about the lightning and then his mother (Catherine Keener) is taken by Hades, who want the lightning and so he must go to the underworld to save her.

So, there is nothing redeeming about this movie. First off, the story is a complete Harry Potter rip-off. You may try to deny this, but it is all there and they don’t even try to hide it. Then there is the gods-awful script (pun intended). It is filled with every cliché there could possibly be, from the funny sidekick, the girl that plays hard to get, and the one-liners. And non-director Chris Columbus makes this ever so uninteresting and sometimes painful to watch. I mean, Medusa dies because she is distracted by an ipod, and a Satyr dances to Lady Gaga. Come on! At least he managed to make Catherine Keener look bad, and that is not something that anyone should attempt to do. Chris, I don’t like you, but I will hate you forever for doing that.

The performances are no better. Brosnan, Rosario Dawson,  Keener, Bean, McKidd, Steve Coogan, Uma Thurman, and just about everyone look like they just want to be finished with this and just want to cash their check. As the Percy Jackson, Lerman is bland and uninteresting. Obviously he was cast for his looks, but if the other movies were to be made, he would not have been able to carry the franchise.

The production is also really cheap-looking and crappy. The visual effects would have been state-of-the-art in the 90s, but now they look cheap and took me out of the movie. I would have loved it if they had been made Harry Housen-style, but alas people like cheap thrills. The cinematography is the kind that you find in your usual romantic comedy and does not fit this at all. All that is going on in the screen drowns the score, the sets also look cheap, and yeah, it looks cheap.

I won’t say that this had potential because the story sucks. But a great movie about the Greek gods can be made, as it is a fascinating subjects. But that’s not going to happen when you have the director of I Love You, Beth Cooper at the helm.

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