Written by Pirata Hermosa
When Rick Riordan beginning telling his children bedtime stories, he choose Greek Mythology, a subject that he was very interested in. But when he ran out of those stories and found his kids clamoring for more, he decided to make up his own stories with a hero named Percy Jackson. Even then he had no idea that he would turn them into a successful series of books, let alone a motion picture.
The film is set in modern day and focuses on Percy (Logan Lerman), a relatively normal teen diagnosed with both Dyslexia and ADHD. His only friend is Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), who he has known for years and needs to use crutches to walk. His father left when he was a baby and Percy lives with his mother, Sally (Catherine Keener) and sleazy stepfather Gabe (Joe Pantoliano).
But when the lightning bolt of Zeus is stolen from Mt. Olympus, the most powerful god blames the only person capable of accomplishing the theft. Unfortunately for Percy, that person is him. Only a demigod is capable of such an act, a half-man half-god, and it just so happens that Percy’s real father is none other than the god Poseidon. Percy has two weeks to save his mother from Hades (Steve Coogan), find the real lightning thief, and return the bolt to Zeus. If he doesn’t succeed then the gods will go to war and use the Earth as their battlefield.
The film uses many of the tales and creatures from Greek Mythology. Percy must do battle with Medusa and take on a five-headed Hydra in his quest. The special effects aren’t quite up to par with those used in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, but align well with the kind used in the Harry Potter series. Pretty good, but you can still tell that something’s not quite right.
While geared towards a younger audience, Percy can be enjoyed by everyone. The pace is quick and flows nicely between the action scenes. There's a nice comical element that threads through the film that brings just enough humor when it could easily take itself too seriously. Most films would get bogged down with too much storyline, but this has just the right mixture, and with a running time just shy of two hours you won't find yourself looking at your watch trying to find out how much time is left.
There are also several surprise big-name celebrities, such as Pierce Brosnan, Rosario Dawson as Persephone, and Uma Thurman. At first their appearance is a little jarring, but they are excellent actors with Uma giving a fun and creepy performance that is worth seeing.
The film is presented on a 50 GB Dual Layer disc with a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 ratio. It is visually superior to the DVD in regards to clarity and sharpness. The only issue is that in a couple of the night scenes it is a little difficult to see everything, but since the DVD has the same issues in the same exact spots it must be a byproduct of the way it was originally filmed.
The audio is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The sound is really good, but it could have been mixed better. Most of the scenes are quiet, but any time there is action the volume comes blaring out at such a loud volume that you’re forced to reach for the remote every few minutes to adjust the sound. Ultimately, you end up just turning everything down so as not to be caught off guard that you lose a lot of the subtlety during the quieter scenes.
Even though there are eight Special Features on the disc, it feels like everything was just thrown together kind of haphazardly. When you first put in the Blu-ray it comes up to a fairly cheap and cheesy looking menu bar that runs across the bottom of the screen. Not only is it simple, but it’s difficult to read without getting up and walking halfway across the room. All of the Special Features are short and feel like added fluff in order to have something to put on the disc.
The feature “Secrets of the Gods” has the most potential as you can move around Mt. Olympus and click on the gods, demigods and monsters. When you click on them you only get the vaguest of descriptions that even a six-year-old would already know.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief on Blu-ray also comes a DVD copy of the film and a digital version for download to your computer.
Article first published as Blu-ray Review: Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief on Blogcritics.