Thursday, 25 March 2010

Percy Jackson & The Olympians - The Lightning Thief

A fantasy film based on the popular children's book of the same name, we see a young man take a Harry Potter-esque plot through a modern Lord of the Rings world with everything based in Greek mythology. But is it more Zero than Zeus?

For some reason, I came into this film thinking that it would be quite good. I'm obsessed with mythology and a modern take on the old myths seemed right up my street, even if it is a kid's film. Alas, it is not so. Instead Percy, the son of Poseidon, thinks he's dyslexic with ADHD etc. when he knows he can read Latin. Doesn't that seem a bit weird to him? His idiotic friend, who is also his 'protector', is the joke-cracking sidekick, who, seeing as he's really the only black person in the whole thing, came across to me as a servant and it was borderline racism. The annoying girl that he fancies, who is supposed to be an alpha female is just completely lame. But what about Percy himself?

Well, the character is okay. The actor doesn't do too badly, but he hasn't really got that much to work with. But for me, it was about the sideline characters including a great Pierce Brosnan, a sexy Rosario Dawson and a Boromir-esque Sean Bean. But then some ruin it, Joe Pantoliano just glides by as Percy's stepdad, Catherine Keener (whom I usually adore) doesn't really fit as the mother figure and Steve Coogan is absolutely awful as Hades. When he first appears in fire as a huge devil, you almost expect him to go 'Ah haaaaaa!' and his human 'rocker' side made me want to hide behind the sofa in embarrassment rather than fear.

But does it hook you in? Well for something that would have a vast supply of material, that being the best stories in history, you'd think they can't go wrong, but they do. The general plot is somehow, someone has stolen Zeus' lightning bolt and he's not happy. General consensus is that Percy has taken it. Right from the off, there's the issue of how a kid, even a demi-God can steal the most powerful weapon of his from under his nose and why, seeing as there are so many who are aware they are demi-Gods when he isn't, they would think that it is him. Oh because he's powerful? Fair enough. But maybe you should be looking for someone with stealth rather than power? Just an idea. But okay, I'll live with it for now. War in a few days if it isn't found? Come on Zeus, taking it a bit far aren't we?

Cut to Percy at school and loving the water (drink your water kids!) and his crippled mate and wheelchair bound teacher are actually ... strong animal-like beings! Sent to protect him which is nice. But how the hell did they cover Brosnan's horse body in a wheelchair? Magic? Has he got two jobs at the same time if he's running this camp for demi-Gods then? But I'll let that pass. Percy's mother is going out with a complete arrogant slob, which you find out later is because he smells so bad, it covers up the smell of Percy's blood. Umm ... anyone heard of air freshener? I'm sure it would be just as pungent. He can't smell that bad unless covering himself in shit surely? But I'll buy it for the moment.

Once he arrives at the camp, he's lost his mum. Don't worry, it's fairly early on and clear that he hasn't really lost her. But to be honest, he doesn't seem that bothered that she's 'dead'. Instead he's having fun fighting where he's just amazing at everything. Quite lucky then because he's about to go to meet Hades, but to get there you need 3 pearls and visualise where you go so you can get back. Got it? Well fortunately for our 3 heroes, there are 3 pearls and all in the States! Lucky! You'd think maybe Greece? No. After 3 stupid encounters (why not take 2 and get the 2 strong ones to go if time is sparse?) they go and you find out who the Lightning Thief is etc. and then they must go to Olympus. Which is atop the Empire State Building by the way. There's a big battle. The end.

Pretty classic shit story stuff I'm sure you'd agree. But even for a children's fantasy film, it's complete nonsense and you can tell they have tried to make it slightly darker and edgy. Instead it feels bloated, boring with some okayish CG and a complete waste of time. I'm sure it would make great post-Sunday roast viewing when you just want to sit there, but for something with so much money thrown at it, with a popular book behind it, with the whole Greek mythology to keep it interesting and the Harry Potter trend still going strong, you'd think they could do better - and really, they should.

Rating: 4/10

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