Trouble-prone Percy Jackson is having problems in high school—but that's the least of his challenges. It's the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus seem to have walked out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology texts and into his life. Percy has learned that his real father is Poseidon, god of the sea, which means Percy is a demigod—half human, half god. At the same time, the powerful gods on Olympus are feuding, which could launch a war enveloping our entire planet.
With ominous storm clouds brewing over Earth and his own life now in peril, Percy travels to a special enclave called Camp Half Blood, where he trains to harness his newly discovered powers and prevent a devastating war among the gods. There, Percy meets two fellow demigods—the warrior Annabeth, who is searching for her mother, the goddess Athena; and his friend and protector, Grover, who is actually a brave but untested satyr. Grover and Annabeth then join Percy on an incredible transcontinental odyssey that takes them six hundred stories above New York City (the portal to Mount Olympus) and to the iconic Hollywood sign, under which burn the fires of the Underworld. At journey's end rests the fate of the world—and the life of Percy's mother Sally, whom Percy must rescue from the depths of Hell itself.
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.
'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.
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.
'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.