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Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 6/27/2010

All Ratings out of





Review by Mike Long, Posted on 7/12/2010

If you're doing it right and you know how to have fun, educating your children should be one of the best parts of being a parent. Of course, children, even young ones are like anyone else -- they don't want to learn from someone, unless they feel that the person is intelligent. Therefore, one must take any opportunity to prove your knowledge to the kids. This came unexpectedly while watching Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief with the family. A base knowledge of pop culture, from the past and present, made it possible to not only point out references in the film, but to also predict what was going to happen next. In an odd twist, this didn't hurt the film, but actually made it more enjoyable.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief opens with Zeus (Sean Bean) meeting with Poseidon (Kevin McKidd), where Zeus explains that his lightning bolt -- the ultimate weapon -- has been stolen and that it must be retrieved in 14 days, or a war will begin. We are then introduced to Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman), a teenager who leads a sad life. He doesn't do well in school due to his extreme dyslexia. He lives with his Mother (Catherine Keener) and her repugnant husband (Joe Pantoliano). He does like spending time with his best friend, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), and Percy feels at home underwater. When their substitute teacher turns out to be a monster, Grover and Percy's Mom whisk him away to Camp Half-Blood. There, Percy learns that he's a Demi-Gog, half-human and half-God. He meets Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), the daughter of Athena. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover accept the assignment of traveling cross-country in order to gather clues on the whereabouts of Zeus's bolt. However, they will soon learn that monsters have been living among us.

And now back to that stuff about impressing the kids. Percy Jackson plays like the combination of two very popular and influential movies. First of all, we have Clash of the Titans. I've been a fan of this film since I saw it at the $1 theater back in 1981 and 99% of my knowledge about mythology comes from that movie. Therefore, I had pretty good idea about who certain characters were before they were fully revealed and it didn't take great leaps to figure out what was going to happen. The other thing that informs Percy Jackson is the Harry Potter series. Percy is yet another poor little boy who discovers that he has a secret past and a future destiny which has yet to be fulfilled. Grover is a lot like Ron Weasley and Annabeth is a lot like Hermione. I'm not implying that Percy Jackson is a rip-off of anything, but it certainly doesn't hide the fact that it's a combination of several different things.

But, somehow, it makes this work. First of all, thousands of years later, Greek mythology is still cool and you actually have to go out of your way to mess it up. No, this movie is no Clash of the Titans, but it's great that it's introducing a new generation to Zeus, Poseidon, and the others. The idea of using Gods may not be original, but the story (based on a series of novels by Rick Riordan) takes a very clever approach towards brining mythology into a modern story, most notably when addressing Percy's learning difficulties. At first, I wasn't crazy about the idea that the middle part of the film turns into a road movie, but the fact that there are mythical dangers throughout the country is an interesting idea. The rules governing interactions between humans and Gods make sense, and this create an emotional core to the movie. The subplots concerning Percy's homelife and his relationship with his Mom are corny, but they're necessary to get the ball rolling.

Going into Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, I really didn't know what to expect, as all of the previews had made it look like a Harry Potter rip-off. And, at its core, it sort of is. But, with Director Chris Columbus at the helm (seriously, why does he receive so much flak? The first two Harry Potter movies are perfectly fine.), we are served a rousing adventure film which contains interesting characters, some well-timed humor and a sense of wonder and respect for mythology. The film does feature some violent battle sequences, so it may be too intense for younger viewers, but otherwise, this is a great chance to show your kids that you know who Perseus is.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief has some Converse that you can't get in the store on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look great and the image is never too dark or bright. The picture has a great amount of depth, most notably in the Camp scenes and the level of detail is impressive. The Disc offers a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The action scenes sound fantastic, as the surround sound and subwoofer effects are unbridled and really pack a wallop. The stereo and surround effects show good separation and they are nicely detailed. The music sounds good and crowd scenes immerse us in the middle of the sound.

The Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief Blu-ray Disc contains a selection of extras. The Disc offers ten DELETED SCENES which run about 14 minutes. Some of these are simply slightly longer versions of scenes already in the movie, while others are brand new moments. A couple of them must have been cut because they were a bit risque for a family film. "Secrets of the Gods" is an interactive feature which gives further information about the Olympian Gods. "The Book Comes to Life" (4 minutes) contains comments from author Rick Riordan who talks about the origin of the story. "Inside Camp Half-Blood" (5 minutes) takes a closer look at some of the characters, while examining the stunts and fighting involved with the Camp setting. "On Set with Brandon T. Jackson" (6 minutes) follows the actor through a day of production. "Meet the Demigods" (4 minutes) is simply a short which gives an overview of the story and characters. "Composing for the Gods" (3 minutes) features Christophe Beck discussing his score. The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.

Review by Mike Long.  Copyright 2010.