Review in a Hurry: Greek gods may be cool right now, but even hardcore mythology geeks—and fans of the popular Percy Jackson kids' books—will have a tough time putting up with this flick's bland CGI and even blander cast.
The Bigger Picture: For the uninformed (most of us over the age of 12), the Percy books are said to be the next Harry Potter series. Except that Harry—onscreen, at least—has an interesting hero, fun sidekicks and a fully realized fantasy world. Judging from this film, the most Percy has is a few scenes with computer-generated Greek gods that fare worse than the old stop-motion ones.
See, Percy Jackson is an average teen who has a Greek god for a daddy (but doesn't know it). And when someone steals Zeus' prized lightning bolt, all signs point to the boy who lives like a human but is actually a demigod.
Truthfully, the cheesy FX actually make the film more tolerable, as Percy's quest involves a three-headed Hydra, a psychedelic trip to Vegas that's accompanied by Lady Gaga's "Poker Face," and more. But even then, it's really only bearable, never inspired.
So this quest Percy and his mates must go on involves going to the underworld to save Percy's mother (Catherine Keener). Hades (a funny Steve Coogan) believes Percy stole Zeus' lightning bolt and will trade the kid his mom for this "ultimate weapon." Since Percy doesn't have said bolt, all he can do, with the help of fellow demigod pals, is sneak past Hades, grab his mom and maybe find the real lightning thief.
This is certainly a decent setup for a new fantasy series, but Logan Lerman (Gamer) plays Percy as the most generic young adult since the Narnia kids. This is unfortunate, since he and his costars Alexandra Daddario and Brandon T. Jackson have been saddled with roles that need charming and charismatic performances. Having to watch Percy go from mopey teen to angsty demigod teen just isn't very interesting.
Director Chris Columbus might not be the most subtle of filmmakers, but in the past he's had a knack for casting strong kids in big roles (the first two Harry Potter movies, Home Alone). This cast is simply too generic. None of the young thespians stick out.
Thankfully, Columbus' other talent has been getting veteran actors to play important parts in his films. So while the main characters are a washout, things get fun when Uma Thurman shows up...as Medusa! Her big eyes, porcelain skin and great hammy energy hit just the right note as she tries to turn our heroes to stone.
The 180—a Second Opinion: If you need to get your Greek myth on while waiting a few weeks for Clash of the Titans, this might do the trick. But not really.
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