Science fiction and fantasy
Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief
directed by Chris Columbus
Yet Percy isn't willing to stay in the safety of the camp when so much is at stake. He plans to go to the underworld in order to clear his name with Hades. But first he must pick up three special pearls that will allow him and his companions to return from Hades' realm. So Percy and his friends charge around America, encountering legendary monsters which are hiding out in the modern world.
Visual effects are slick and plentiful. However the story is aimed at children who have little to no knowledge of the Greek myths. For anyone who knows the stories it's all very predictable, and the movie adds few extra layers of meaning. What's more, Percy ends up battling a couple of creatures that, according to legend, had already been slain. It's not exactly canon.
Not content with altering the myths, the creators of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief have set about Christianising the Greek gods. Hades (Steve Coogan) is perhaps closest to the spirit of the legends, but he's made to look like either a Mick Jagger wannabe or a huge, fiery Satan, and very much the bad guy. Whereas Zeus (Sean Bean) has been turned into more of a benevolent, hands-off deity who spends a lot of time surrounded by angelic-looking gods in Olympus, being wise. Whatever happened to the selfish, egotistical and ruthless god who killed his own father, married his own sister Hera, seduced Leda whilst disguised as a swan, and sired many other gods and demigods with various mothers? In this version the philandering fiend has been watered down considerably, and Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) is no different. The Greek gods are fun precisely because they were capricious, self-serving and unfair. Mortals were supposed to cower before them. But this movie's so short on fear and trembling it might as well have been made by Disney.
One thing there's no lack of, however, is famous faces in the cast. So it's surprising that the acting isn't more impressive. Uma Thurman plays a very hammy Medusa, whilst Pierce Brosnan's Chiron makes mythical creatures less exciting than last year's bus timetable. Part of the problem is the script, which could do with more jokes, sharper dialogue, or something to give it more intensity. As it stands the film may look good, but it limps along with no soul. It's Greek without the fire.
If you like this, try:Wrath of the Titans by Jonathan Liebesman
The Greek gods are losing their powers, and Titans want revenge for their long imprisonment. The sequel to Clash of the Titans.
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He may be a cheat, a liar, and a thief. But can Lex Trent steal a march on the gods themselves?
Review © Ros Jackson
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