Sunday, August 1, 2010

Movie Review: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

I love mythology. I love mythology a lot. Reading the ancient tales and legends from Greek, Norse, and Roman mythology is one of those precious things that I do when I want to relax and have a good time. My particular favorite is Greek mythology - it conveys that feeling of epic adventure that I love so much more than any of the other myths. The stories that come out of Greek Myth were some of the stronger influences for one of my favorite works of literature - Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. That should give you an idea for how much I love those old stories, and how much respect I have for them.

There's also a guy who looks like this. What's not to like?

I generally get pretty excited when I see a preview for a movie that involves any form of Greek Mythology - and Percy Jackson and the Olympians was no exception to this rule. Having recently seen the re-vamped Clash of the Titans, I was looking forward to seeing a movie that might get things better and more enjoyable. It looked like it would also be pretty lighthearted, but considering that most of the motives of the Greek Gods amount to "Because it would be funny," that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Unfortunately, due to being busy with things like school, life and other very important and mature things, I was unable to see Percy Jackson in theaters, and was forced to wait until it had come out on DVD.
Pictured: Very Important and Mature Things.

So I only recently was able to see this movie, and I was rather excited to see it. At last! A potentially good movie about Greek Gods in a modern setting! I giddily turned on the TV, slid in the disk, watched the film, and when it was over, I was... um... how do I put this...


You all saw this coming, didn't you? So yeah. This movie is about as accurate on Greek Mythology as Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull is on how to survive a nuclear blast.

To those of you lucky enough to have missed that movie - he survives a nuke by climbing into a refrigerator.
...No, seriously. I wish I could make that stuff up.

Let's dive right in, shall we? So the movie starts off by giving us the rather lame premise that Zeus' magical lightning bolt of all-powerfulness has been stolen... because apparently Zeus (played by Sean Bean) just leaves world destroying super weapons around the house like a pair of dirty socks. Anyway, because this movie has decided that Gods cannot take away the powers of other Gods (never mind that in Greek Myth this happens approximately 700 gajillion times), it must have been a Demigod who did it - people who are half God, half Human hybrids born when one of the Gods decides he wants to get kinky. As it must have been a powerful Demigod who stole the lightning bolt (for no reason other than the fact that they need a plot device), Zeus reasons that it must be the son of one of his two brothers - Poseidon or Hades.

This is where things start getting dumb (the first 2 minutes, for anyone keeping track) because guess who Zeus blames? The son of Poseidon, the loyal, caring, good brother who has pretty much always backed Zeus when push came to shove - or Hades, the villain of almost every single war between the Gods and is notorious for trying to overthrow Zeus and claim power for his own.

If you chose Hades as the one who you would suspect - CONGRATULATIONS! You are smarter than the king of the Gods, because Zeus decides that it must be Poseidon's fault, and therefore he does the most logical thing a man in his position can be expected to do. He threatens to destroy the world if the bolt is not returned pronto.

Well, it's not like his characters are well known for making good decisions anyway.

Cut to Percy Jackson, the most annoying little strip of a Demigod whom you've ever wanted to throttle with your bare hands. He figures out that he is the son of Poseidon, and therefore the one who Zeus thinks stole the McGuff - er, Lightning Bolt. After some running away from monsters, Percy's mother is seemingly killed, which he takes with the emotional scarring and trauma of a kid who has just lost his pet hamster. Anyway, this "tragedy" leads him to go to a magical forest that is a Demigod Academy where the children of humans and gods are trained for blah blah blah blah BLAH.

Seriously, this plot sounds like it was written by someone who was on drugs! The whole thing is so random and pointless that it's clear that the writers weren't even trying. Things are the way they are in the movie because... well, because they are! It makes no sense, but the plot demands more McGuffin! Not that you, as the audience, can tell, because you are too busy gaping in awe at the stupidity of the main characters. All the while, the director is busily keeping himself mildly entertained by butchering and defiling everything about Greek Mythology that we know and love, turning once-beautiful legends into things for the modern audience to point and laugh at.

I'm not going to go into much more detail - suffice to say that there's a quest where Percy has to rescue his mother from the Underworld all while trying to find Zeus' bolt and get it back to him before the Gods go to war and subsequently blow up the planet.

God, this movie is horrifying. I'd rather watch Sorcerer's Apprentice again.

Hell, I'd rather watch Twilight: Eclipse again.

Actually, you can just soak me in napalm. After watching this movie, that sounds genuinely entertaining!


I hesitate to call this movie awful, because there are a lot of awful things in the world which don't deserve that kind of insult. Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a terrible, TERRIBLE film that needs to be erased from time. I want to set this movie and everyone involved in it on fire, then set the ashes on fire, and then lock the ashes in a box that will never, EVER be opened.

But the real victim here is Greek Mythology. It was so horribly misused and mistreated in this film, I actually found myself feeling sorry for an abstract set of beliefs. These once-great legends and sagas were used for cheap laughs and entertainment, almost as though the movie was mocking them in their state of disrepair. It's as if all the greatest magicians in history were put into a cheap, sideshow carnival routine. It's sad, demeaning, and to me, infuriating. This movie defiles a thing of beauty, and for that there can be no forgiveness.

Final Grade: D-

1 comment:

  1. This makes me sad .. I love mythology too and the greek and roman are my favorites ..