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Movie Review: "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief"

By It's My Life on February 13, 2010 1:42 PM | No TrackBacks

If you've read the book "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," you know the basic gist: Percy Jackson is a New York teen whose life is far from perfect. His dad took off when he was a baby, his mom got remarried to a selfish, smelly oaf who treats them both like crud, and he's having trouble in school thanks to a double whammy of ADHD and dyslexia. About the only thing that brings Percy any peace is hanging out alone at the bottom of the school swimming pool, where he can hold his breath for... seven minutes? Hang on! How the heck is THAT possible??

percy-jackson-movie-poster.jpgIt's possible because Percy is no ordinary teenager. Although he doesn't know it yet, he's actually a demigod -- the child of a Greek god and a mortal human. Yep, Percy's dad is none other than Poseidon, god of the sea, and brother to Zeus the boss-man and Hades, lord of the Underworld. And this is where the trouble starts, because someone has stolen Zeus's master lightning bolt, and Percy is the main suspect in the theft. Great. Percy's already reeling from the discovery that his best friend is half goat (a satyr) and that one of his teachers is mostly horse (a centaur). Now he's got to find the bolt and return it to Olympus. If he can't make it by Zeus' deadline, the world will face the consequences of an all-out war between the gods. No pressure, right?

Okay, okay. So that's the setup. Now, to answer the big question: how is the movie? Short answer:  it's mostly awesome. For the longer answer, here's a handy-dandy IML like/didn't like guide:

We Liked:
  • The Story. Admittedly, this story bears a rather striking resemblance to the Harry Potter books, what with a "loser" kid suddenly finding out he's a big important hero in a parallel world he's never known about, and so on and so forth. But there's still a lot to love about this tale, and it's easy to root for Percy and his new friends on their quest to save the world.

  • The Scope. A lot of our favorite books have been made into movies in the past few years, and while Hollywood often gets things right, they just as often drop the ball, making films that seem somehow smaller and less magical than the written version. Rest assured, Percy Jackson is a BIG movie, with top-notch visuals and effects, thrilling action sequences, and locations that dazzle and impress.

  • percy-jackson.jpgThe Actors. Logan Lerman does a great job in the title role, and Alexandra Daddario is totally believable as the tough-as-nails daughter of Athena. But we were especially impressed with Jake Abel, who plays Luke, son of messenger-god Hermes. He's not a major character, but he totally steals the scenes he's in.

  • The Comedy. This is a fantasy adventure movie, but there are also a lot of moments that make you laugh, thanks mostly to actor Brandon T. Jackson, who plays Percy's wisecracking pal/protector, Grover the Satyr. He's a half-goat with a hip-hop attitude, and we like him a lot.

  • The Themes. There are tons of great messages in this movie, and we won't go into all of them. But here's one of our favorites: the things that challenge you, that other people might call your weaknesses, can also be your strengths. In other words, if you look at things in a new way, "different" can turn into "extraordinary."

  • Flying Converse high-top sneakers. With little flapping wings. Enough said.

We Didn't Really Like:

  • Trendy Fashions. Does Logan Lerman really need that oh-so-perfect Zac Efron haircut that never seems out of place, even after a grueling sword battle? Are those hipster tee-shirts really necessary? These things are distracting, and in a few years (or months) when styles change, they might even make us laugh a little.

  • Cheeseball Scenes. Not every scene in the movie works. One in particular, which features Uma Thuman as the snake-headed baddie Medusa, actually feels like it's from some different, far sillier movie. It's like a serving of stinky cheese in an otherwise great flick.

  • Scary Moments. Don't get us wrong...we like being scared at the movies. But some of the horror elements in Percy Jackson (like fiery demons in Hades) go a little too far, and they aren't necessary. All they really do here is make the movie too intense for some of IML's younger readers, which is too bad. If they'd left 'em out, we'd have a movie almost anybody could see and enjoy.
Okay, that's our take on it. What do YOU think? Are you planning on seeing the movie? Did you already go? Got anything to say about it?

"Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" is rated PG for action violence and peril, some scary images and suggestive material, and mild language.

IML's Rating: A-

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