Wednesday, February 17, 2010

REVIEW: Percy Jackson/The Lightning Thief

2010 Fantasy/Adventure
StarringLogan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Brandon T. Jackson, Pierce Brosnan
Written by Craig Titley, Chris Columbus
Directed by Chris Columbus

The Lightning Thief isn’t so much entertaining as it is distracting, from watching the three young stars constantly trying to figure out what they should be doing due to a quite apparent lack of proper direction. Can’t say I blame them; they showed up thinking they’d be doing a Percy Jackson film but found themselves on the set of “Chris Columbus Does PG Fantasy for the Twilight Crowd”. Be advised: I did not like the film. 

Stuck in a middle class life he hates, trouble student Percy Jackson learns from meeting a nefarious creature (his teacher...) that he is the son of the Greek sea God and is targeted by other Gods as having stolen Zeus’ mighty thunderbolt. But that doesn’t matter to him ‘cause his mom was abducted by the Underworld dude. The young man will race on a quest to find her before all Olympus break loose. Or someone notices his 5 o’clock shadow.

From the get-go, Percy Jackson has been fingered by all as a Fox’s attempt to secure some Harry Potter business. But Percy isn’t a Potter knock-off; he comes from a book written 11 years before the first potter was published and jumped in a movie that believes its own self unworthy of a franchise, so much that most of the plot points from the book are nowhere to be found, and the story ends on a note which inspires little care if another of those is ever made. Even though the initial novel sets up the next 4 quite beautifully.

The film’s run time of about 100 minutes seems to forbid cast and crew to develop plot and characters in favour of a pace that moves things along at all cost. Visuals are stunning and the action keeps coming, but lots of it makes little sense, save for the characters – we don’t know WHY they’re haulin’ a**, but they sure are! Half the film is devoted to set up the rest, but none of it deserves much attention, nor $95M in financing. 

Casting could’ve turned that tide, especially one that looks so cool on paper, but only once or twice has this one got it right; Pierce Brosnan as the benevolent teacher and guide Chiron is pretty much the best thing in the film, albeit of extremely short presence. The rest of ‘em are no match for a hasty script and eye-candy direction; Sean bean as Zeus sounds cool but looks so bored it hurts, just as Kevin McKidd offers quite a wimpy Poseidon for such a square-jaw actor. Steve Coogan, I fear not in saying this, must be glad a third Museum film will soon come to wash out his pitiful Hades (shoulda taken notes from James Woods’ voice work in the Disney ani), and the actual villain is a such a de-clawed dork that even my gerbil could kick his butt. And my friggin gerbil’s dead!

As for star Logan Lerman, the kid’s got good looks and slick moves, but he’s just not what that character required; this hero should’ve had to discover and earn his valor, not pass Go and collect $200. If my Box-Office prediction continues to be true for this film, Lerman did well to knock on Sony’s door about Spiderman- Percy J might not be back in theatres anytime soon.

Of course my own dislike of the film comes from loving the books so much, and finding that most it was contradicted or disregarded –especially the incredible research and author Rick Riordan’s unique dialogs. But then again, should the guy who just previously directed I Love You Beth Cooper really be expected to bring on the next huge cash cow? 

The Lightning Thief isn’t such a bad film per se, but one that should’ve been superb , even with half the CG budget. We get instead a semi-cute PG action flick understandably dumped in the February wasteland and soon to find its place on discount shelves between Catch That Kid and Agent Cody Banks. *shivers*

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