Zeus’ mighty bolt has been stolen, and whomever holds it may have the power to topple the king of the Gods. Zeus suspects Poseidon’s estranged, half-human son is the Lighting Thief and threatens his wrath upon the entire realm if it is not returned. Percy Jackson is Poseidon’s son, making him a Demi-God, but as far as he knows, he is a just a high school student living with Dyslexia, ADHD and struggling to live with his abusive step-father. As mythic monsters and Gods all start to threaten Percy’s life, his best friend and his mother both reveal themselves to be protectors of his life, both with connections to Greek Mythology. Percy;s mother is taken to the underworld and so he sets out on a quest to discover the truth about his Demi-God heritage while fighting to get his mother back from the clutches of Hades, as well as discover who the true Lighting Thief is.
The story moves by at a fast pace, which helps keep the attention of younger, easy to bore audiences, but the conflict set-ups and exposition are a bit too been-there, see-that for my liking. We are meant to assume that Percy is an outsider, thus easier to relate to and sympathize with, because he has issues, but his Earthly problems (step-father, dyslexia) seem hastily tacked on and it doesn’t take long before his super-human capabilities are revealed. This is especially aggravating during a wickedly illogical training scene where all of the demi-God children of Camp Half-Blood play capture the flag (fighting with real swords for no good reason!) and Percy earns the respect of the entire camp simply by being able to heal from any wound by touching water and inheriting a wondrous fighting ability from his father’s side, without having picked up a sword before. The friends who join him on his quest also have amazing agility and skill, so we have a pack of kids with Superman syndrome, but none of them have enough have that ‘Clark Kent’ side to give them a mien of humility (do enough people reading this understand where I’m going with that analogy?).
To make things worse, the acting from our lead actors is quite wooden, save for the over-acting black side-kick who seems to be aiming for the Chris Tucker award for most annoying stereotype in an action film. There are a couple of acceptable cameos by a few seasoned actors (Steve Coogen and Kevin McKidd hold their own) but many are just phoning it in.
Slightly less embarrassing than the performances is the mediocre computer generated f/x. The water and lighting visuals look fine during the climax but the monsters stand out as being obviously digitally added (especially in HD), and I fear they will look dated way before they should (if you need an easy time-line reference of how long a CG creature can last before looking dated, consider how long the computer added dinosaurs from Jurassic Park looked good, versus the lizard monster from Mortal Kombat…you get the idea).
Speaking of the monsters, one credit I will give to the designers and animators, they are a bit creepy in appearance. I only made a note of this because it is my understanding that this film is being marketed as “Family” entertainment. I have long considered myself rather desensitized to movie monsters (since being introduced to the likes of ALIEN, Carnosaur and Predator all before I was 10…thanks Grandma), and so I feel I make for a good acid test of what is scary and what isn’t. I considered the monsters in this film to be recognizably frightening. They all have crooked, razor teeth and seem to be in the state of decay. I commend the concept behind them, but question how well-suited they are to a film that boasts to be “Family Fun” on its case, especially the vermin-faced Hell hounds…yeesh.
Widescreen 2.35:1. The HD quality is pretty decent. As hinted at before, sometimes the real-life people look too good, as they outshine the under-rendered CG beasts. There are points where things get a pinch blurrier than they should, and some of the dark tones are too shadowy, as if the contrast in the TV was off. So things aren’t perfect but are mostly good throughout, as any film that dares to film the endless lights of Las Vegas needs to deliver.
AVC @ 31 MBPS
English, Spanish, French and Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1, DTS-HD Master Audio, and English 5.1 Descriptive audio are all available.
The sound mix is good, as the big f/x moments crash and bang with nice clarity, while the dialogue and more subtle parts of the score are perfectly distinguishable.
I might have preferred a bit more ambient sounds in the surrounding speakers exterior shots of cities for a greater sense of immersion, but things moved along fast enough that the score would chime in and then I’d have no complaints.
Subtitles available in English (SDH), Spanish, Portuguese, Cantonese and Mandarin.
Deleted Scenes: 10 on the Blu Ray, only 6 on the DVD copy. Many of these scenes are not all that bad, although a couple do contain sexual references that would only boost my agrument that this film is not as youth friendly as it advertises. The only scene that I couldn’t take of this bunch is an alternate scene where the leading love interests first meet, and the actress tries to highlight the fact that she has blue eyes by opening them very wide and NEVER BLINKING. Unnerving.
Secrets of the Gods: An entertaining, and fully narrated interactive feature that features little vignettes on the different Gods and Monsters, offering facts relevant to the original Myths and the film’s story.
Inside Camp Half-Blood: Behind the scenes of the training scenes and redundant plot details and character information we easily could decipher from the film itself.
Discover Your Powers (also on DVD): Another entertaining, interactive feature where you can take a small quiz to determine what demi-God heritage you might have. Simple fun.
The Book Comes to Life: Interview with the original author while on set. He offers tidbits about the history of how the idea for the books came to be, and so forth. A decent but of trivia to behold.
On Set with Brandon T. Jackson: Like the other behind the scenes featurettes only more annoying as Brandon may be an affable fellow, but he just tries so hard all the time to be appealing. You can see that hardly anyone watching around him is amused, unless they’re a close friend or a giddy young fan who got to be an Extra for a day.
Composing for the Gods: A Conversation with Christophe Beck: The film’s composer talks about the challenges he had with this gig. Nothing revolutionary, just another bit of info.
Meet the Demi-Gods: Another redundant behind the scenes feature, with interviews and footage revealing the same plot points and characters details we would know having watched the film OR ANY other feature. Thanks.
Trailer(s) (also on DVD): For this film and others by the same company. All in HD, for what its worth.
This package also comes with a DVD edition of the film and a Digital Copy. Not features, but are more than worth noting.
Such as story brings many a juicy reference from Greek Mythology into the modern world in such a way that it can be very entertaining for younger viewers and surely makes for a very entertaining book series, but a pack of unconvincing actors and f/x. all playing from a formulaic script, make for a less than worthy film.