Blu-ray
Rent it
3.5 stars
Overall Grade
3.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Movie Itself
2.5 Stars
HD Video Quality
4 Stars
HD Audio Quality
5 Stars
Supplements
1 Stars
High-Def Extras
1.5 Stars
Bottom Line
Rent it

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

Street Date:
June 29th, 2010
Reviewed by:
Review Date: 1
June 28th, 2010
Movie Release Year:
2010
Studio:
20th Century Fox
Length:
119 Minutes
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG
Release Country
United States

The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

Greek mythology always fascinated me as a kid. It wasn't until I was older that I realized the gods atop Mount Olympus might be great for allegories, but as characters in stories, they're less than interesting. See, the gods all posses one or two traits that make them who they are. They never waver from those behaviors. Zeus is always dominating and Hades is always scheming. No matter how we rewrite their tales, we always come up with the same old stuff.

However, when I was in middle school, I thought the Greek gods were absolutely the coolest characters I had ever heard of. What if they were real? What if they were around today? With thinking like that, author Rick Riordan has come up with a clever story -– albeit it one that involves the rigid, stereotypical gods of the past – to show us what it may be like to live in a world where Greek gods were the supreme rulers. Riordan wrote five novels in the "Percy Jackson" series. The way he weaves the modern world together with the world of ancient gods is fun and clever. In the books, Riordan has gods move around with the most powerful and influential civilizations. This is why the entrance to Mount Olympus is located atop the Empire State Building. So, does the clever, playful humor from the books translate to the movie screen in 'Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief'? Sadly, no.

The gods are promiscuous. Every once and a while they'll come down and conceive children with mortals, creating demigods. Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is one such demigod; the son of Poseidon, although he doesn't know it yet. Percy is in high school and suffers from Dyslexia. He feels at home in the water, and can hold his breath for an amazing amount of time.

Zeus' lightning bolt, the most powerful weapon created, has been stolen. Everyone fingers Percy for the crime. In the movie it really isn't made clear why they all think Percy did it. Apparently the most powerful weapon in the universe requires a little bit more security. It isn't long until Percy is faced with the knowledge of his origins. After being attacked by a winged beast called a Fury, Percy learns that there is much more to his world than what can be seen.

Percy is taken to a training camp for demigods. It isn't until you see how many kids are actually at this camp, that you realize exactly how "busy" the gods are with humans. Percy's best friend (and protector) Grover, and his teacher Mr. Brunner (Pierce Brosnan), show him how to become a warrior. One scene and montage later, and Percy is a lean, mean demigod fighting machine.

Percy has 14 days to save the world. This 14 days includes an improbable journey across the country, more CGI action sequences than you can shake a trident at, and a whole lot of jokes that fall completely flat.

Alas, it seems the cleverness of the first book has been substituted for gigantic CG action scenes, and lots of fighting. Riordan's vision of what this world may be like is watered down by director Chris Columbus ('Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,' 'Home Alone') and screenwriter Craig Titley ('Cheaper by the Dozen 2'). Instead of the wonder and intrigue the books provided, we're left with a glistening CGI-laden kiddie blockbuster with cardboard writing and silly dialogue. The gods should be angry.

Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats

'Percy Jackson' is housed on a dual-layered 50GB Blu-ray disc. The set also comes with a DVD copy of the film and a digital copy. There are previews that roll before the menu for 'The A-Team,' 'Diary of a Whimpy Kid,' 'Marley and Me 2,' 'Tooth Fairy,' and a super annoying commercial advertising the portability of digital copies.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' is filled to the brim with hokey looking CG, but that's the one taint on an otherwise pristine looking 1080p transfer.

I know that the look of the CG sequences don't have anything to do with the transfer itself, but there are some that look so cheaply done, like the Fury in the beginning of the film, that you'd never throw this disc in to show off how good computer animation looks on your TV. In other words, when there isn't any CG on screen this transfer is demo quality, when there is CG, the quality of the transfer demos the illusion (in the sledgehammer sense of the word)!

As for the transfer's stengths: Colors –- especially the bright eyes of Percy and Annabeth -- pop off the screen. Delineation is fantastic. While much of the movie takes place at night or in darkened areas, shadow detail is spot on, and crushing is never a problem. Blacks are deep and whites are never overblown. Contrast is perfectly pitched. Skintones seem natural, and never take on unnatural hues. Fine details, including the texture of the armor worn by camp residents, are revealing. I was impressed by some of the sweeping landscape shots while Percy is at the camp. Lush forests surround the camp, pine trees blanket the mountains. The detail involved in some of these shots is astounding.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

If the video presentation was just short of perfect, the audio is five stars. That's right, this is demo quality audio for sure.

DTS-HD Master 5.1 opens with thunder cracking, causing LFE to rumble the entire room. Low frequency bass is constant throughout the film as cars are tossed and things explode. Surround sound is very lively and has an enveloping effect. Take for example the moment where Hades appears out of the flames at the camp and starts tossing fireballs which explode with thunderous bass. The fireball woosh travels from the front to rear speakers with some fine panning effects. Demigods scream and scatter as the fireballs explode, like you're in the center of the action. Dialogue is very clean, and understandable, never being drowned out by the thumping LFE or the heroic soundtrack.

Everything about this audio presentation is perfect. Enjoy.

The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff

  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 14 min.) – There are 10 deleted scenes in all. Five of them are only available on the Blu-ray. On the DVD version there are only five deleted scenes. Most of them are pieces of scenes that were cut out of the movie, but belong to scenes we already saw. Thankfully, the scene where Grover is taking photographs of a buxom marble statue were deleted.
  • Discover Your Power Quiz – Answer a series of questions to find out which god you may be descended from if you were a demigod.
  • The Book Comes to Life (HD, 4 min.) – Rick Riordan talks about how his book came to life, but it's heavy on the promo interviews.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2 min.) – The theatrical trailer is included.

HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?

In addition to the five BD-exclusive deleted scenes mentioned above, we get:

  • On Set With Brandon T. Jackson (HD, 6 min.) – Brandon Jackson (Grover) gives us a behind the scenes tour of the set. Brandon reminds me of a young Chris Tucker he just doesn't know when to stop talking.
  • Meet the Demigods (HD, 4 min.) – This feature, like the others is clip heavy and has even more EPK fluff, and interviews with information that we've already heard three times from the other features.
  • Composing for the Gods: A Conversation With Christophe Beck (HD, 3 min.) – A conversation with Christophe Beck talking about how he came up with the original music for the movie.
  • Secrets of the Gods – An interactive feature where you can select certain gods, monsters, and demigods and have it tell you a light background of what the god was like. Clips from the movie are interspersed with the educational information.

Final Thoughts

'Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief' doesn't come close to the subtle cleverness that was found in Riordan's books. Yes, I know that the book and movie are completely different entities, but why not incorporate more of Riordan's clever material into the movie? For example, it was hilarious that the gate to hell was located in a music studio in the book, why is it given such a generic twist in the movie? Oh well. As for the video presentation, if it weren't for some very cheap looking special effects this would be a top-notch, demo-quality disc. The audio on the other hand is demo-worthy. Special features are extremely slim and full of EPK fluff. If you just want to see the movie, I would say rent it, but if you want a disc with some demo quality sound then it comes recommended.

Technical Specs

  • BD/DVD/Digital Copy

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC

Aspect Ratio(s)

  • 2.40:1

Audio Formats

  • English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 Surround Sound

Subtitles/Captions

  • English SDH, French, Spanish

Supplements

  • 5 Deleted Scenes
  • The Book Comes to Life
  • Discover Your Powers Quiz

Exclusive HD Content

  • 5 More Deleted Scenes
  • Secrets of the Gods
  • Inside Camp Half-Blood
  • On Set with Brandon T. Jackson
  • Meet the Demigods
  • Composing for the Gods: A Conversation with Christophe Beck

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