Sunday, March 14, 2010
Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief
Have you read the book on which they based this film? I haven't, but Max has, so I am going by what he remembers, which is this: the plot isn't horribly different from the book. There are some key differences, which, if I had read the book, would probably drive me BATTY (which happened when we read/watched The Water Horse), but overall Max wasn't terribly bothered by any of the divergences. So I won't be either. Well, until I read the book, or listen while FDPG reads the book and tells me all about them and THEN be horrified about how callow and disastrous the changes are...
Calm down Sheila.
The story is this: Zeus, head honcho in Olympus, loses his lightening rod. There he is up there, in that picture. That rod in his hand is the very one he lost in the book. So you can see why he'd be so pissed. Goes nicely with the shield, although in the movie he was more of a long black coat, long blonde hair, cool scarf kind of guy. He was played by Sean Bean, whom we usually refer to as Seen Been, or Shawn Bawn (think about it - it'll make sense in a minute).
Anyhow, Zeus thinks that his brother's son has stolen his lightening rod. He's very annoyed about this, because losing his lightning rod means that he can no longer make lightning. Why this was an issue was beyond me, frankly, but it was obviously not an issue for the Movie Executives. They glossed over it in a matter of nanoseconds: I think it involved a toss of the head, a couple of brotherly shoves, and three very cold glares. If they could have inserted a Meagan Fox cameo, I'm sure they would have, even if this scene was on the top of the Empire State Building.
The brother in question, in case you tend to mix up your Greek Gods, is Poseidon. One of the Big Boys of Greek Mythology. Here is a picture of him rising out of the Mediterranean. He's pissed about Zeus' accusations, although from what I remember of the scene he doesn't seem very indignant about Zeus accusing his offspring and most of us in the movie theatre assumed that he figured his kid was the thief. I was more indignant about Poseidon's assumption of guilt than I was about Zeus' assumption of guilt, frankly, although both of those assumptions paled when I stopped to think about Omnipotence and God-like Abilities To See All and Know All, because surely they
SHOULD HAVE KNOWN WHO THE HELL STOLE THE STUPID BOLT IN THE FIRST PLACE, SHOULDN'T THEY?
Calm down, Sheila. Calm down.
Okay, so Poseidon is a fairly tough guy, played by the grimly charming Kevin McKidd of Rome. When he comes out of the waters in his Greek God outfit, complete with trident, and glares at some hapless fisherman, well, forget about Venus rising from the waves. Kevin, err, Poseidon, looks pretty darn cool. He stalks almost continuously from his initial entrance until the very last scene. I like a man who can stalk well.
Move on Sheila.
Turns out that Poseidon's kid is no mere God, but a part-human offspring, or demi-god. And his name is, in true Super Hero convention, is Percy. Percy Jackson.
Percy is your average disenfranchised Modern American Teen, who likes to sit underwater for minutes on end (helps him think), has issues with dyslexia, and is fairly conversant with terms like ADHD and "show some respect, man!" He has charming blue eyes, likes to argue about everything that happens to him, and is fairly likable, as far as the MAT thing goes. His accoutrements: sad-eyed, sad sack mother; initially-charming-but-later-cringe-worthy sidekick-slash-Protector friend; school principal-slash-centaur; and Hot Chick-slash-demi-god-slash-ultracool-fighter-friend, all have their good and bad moments, although I have to say that his mother (played by She Really Must Be Slumming Catherine Keener) is truly awful. Someone show that woman how to IRON. I need a little verisimilitude with my movies, puleeeze.
Anyhow, Percy, as the heroic convention goes, has to find the bolt, return it to Zeus, get some action with the Hot Chick, kill off the Baddies, and manage his angsty teen attitude, not necessarily in that order. Medusa makes an rather campy appearance, as does a very cool Hydra. There are a lot of absorbing CGI effects in this movie, effects that make the story line far more palatable than it otherwise would. Call me a complete killjoy, but I had the distinct feeling that the director didn't quite know who he was making the movie for: adults, children, or teens. And by this I mean: there are goofy, funny scenes involving kids running around being Cool Demi-God Fighting Heroes, exciting scenes involving Angry Gods being Angry Gods, dramatic scenes with monsters and lots of things getting smashed up, and distressingly mature scenes where the cast of High School Musical (on acid), Meagan Fox, and a couple of pole dancers wouldn't have gone amiss.
Poor Meagan Fox! What have you got against her?
The entire Transformers franchise, for one thing. And her complete lack of acting talent, for another.
Get on with this, Sheila.
Let's just say that watching a satyr do an ensemble dance routine (with a number of 'sexy chicks') as if he were a randy Michael Jackson kind of guy is quite cringe-making when one has taken one's 8 year olds to a movie that one assumed would be packed with action and not hormones. And let's just say that one doesn't usually expect Persephone to be dressed as a panting, slutty 18th century prostitute while she's in Hades (I won't even get into what I thought of Hades except to say that he had baroque pretensions of Rock Star Grandeur that might, just might have been amusing had I not been accompanied by my 8 year olds who were puzzled as to why Hades had such bad hair and why the satyr bleated whenever he was near Persephone). I felt like saying GET A ROOM ALREADY.
And let's not even get into why the satyr got his horns after spending time with Persephone in Hades. Oh my my. It was all so...so...banal. Juvenile. Such a hackneyed male fantasy. I wanted action. Excitement. Dramatic tension. Pure fear. Terror, even. I did not want to watch a couple of boys have a Losing My Vir— movie.
Gosh, don't hold back, Sheila.
Sorry, Rick Riordan, but I was completely disappointed.