Directed by: Chris Columbus Cast: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Catherine Keener, Uma Thurman Running Time: 2 hrs Rating: PG Release Date: February 12, 2010
PLOT: A high school boy (Lerman) with dyslexia and the ability to stay underwater for seven minutes learns that he is the son of Poseidon. After this revelation, he is accused of having stolen Zeus' lightning, which he must retrieve at all costs.
WHO'S IT FOR?: This new addition to the “boy carries glowing stick and sword” collection of films has too much evil for little children, but at the same times teenagers are a risk.
EXPECTATIONS: Judging that this was from the director of the first Harry Potter film, I wondered whether it would be as entertaining as the first two Potter movies. Judging from its title, it was destined to have a lot of special effects, and some whippersnapper acting that might just educate children.
Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson: He has a brat’s cockiness even before finding out he is a demi-god. Oddly enough, his “gift” is dyslexia, a trait that comes in handy when reading Greek, not English. Lermans’ lame performance is upstaged in memorability by those who crash harder than him, but it is his own fault that a character like Percy Jackson can not be remembered for being more than a kid who has a pen (that doubles as a sword!). Score: 3
Brandon T. Jackson as Grover: Tough break for the Tropic Thunder actor. He used to be the owner of "Booty Sweat" and now he's a 25-year-old man pretending to be Percy's crippled high school friend. Oh wait, excuse me, I forgot he has goat legs. Is he acceptable now? Well, did you see the dance sequence where he dances with said goat legs? Ouch. Score: 2
Catherine Keener as Sally Jackson: IMDb credits her as “Sally,” but Percy has this weird habit of calling her “Mom!!!” In those five seconds of him screaming, he shows double the emotion that Keener presents in the entire movie (which isn’t much of a compliment, considering Lerman’s grade). Percy Jackson is full of appearances that smell like fresh money, but she is incredibly bored here – she wouldn’t need to look into Medusa’s eyes to become a statue. Her delivery is so flat, especially in the few moments where all she must do is stand in front of an invisible wall and say, “I can’t get in!” Score: 1
Uma Thurman as Medusa: This is Poison Ivy-awful, and repeats the idea that Thurman cannot be a villain. For a woman with a bunch of snakes on her head, she doesn’t come off as menacing, but incredibly cheesy. The respectable actress can flirt with evil, but her roles as a nemesis do not work. Consider this another example to a stack of unsuccessful characters. Score: 2
TALKING: Dead zingers represent the movie’s attempt at humor, with the one-liners often spewed by the highly reactionary Grover. Timely to current ABC programming and the recession, he says things like “this place needs an extreme makeover.” If the age range of the movie isn’t already odd enough, this is also one of those flicks that attempts to hit puberty by saying “flippin’” while still not being allowed to say "f**kin'." Score: 3
SIGHTS: The special effects of the film vary throughout of the film. Some creatures evoke the cheap and much older style of Ray Harryhausen, while other sequences use top notch effects, like in a two-second battle that has Percy picking up gallons worth of water and just with his hands. It is also worth noting that some of the animated characters, from the Devil to a random minotaur, might be too scary for children. However, being a grown man, I have nightmares about something much worse – the cast list. In the opening credits, many notable names are listed, and they are seen in Percy Jackson with moot parts. The constant streaming of names from Joe Pantoliano to Steve Coogan to Sean Bean to Rosario Dawson to Pierce Brosnan felt like a joke. But jokes are funny, and this was just sad. Score: 4
SOUNDS: Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” and Kesha’s booze-driven song “Tik Tok” make appearances in the soundtrack, concreting those party jams into a popularity that is often shared with other tunes soon to be blasted from a “Kidz Bop” CD. Oddly enough, these tracks are used in the "drug sequence" that takes place in Las Vegas, which has the three hoodlums lumbering around a casino "under the influence" of a treat served by the staff. Score: 3
BEST SCENE: I really struggled with this decision. It might be the "taking out the janitors" montage or the moment where Percy says he's seen The French Connection on DVD.
ENDING: The world ends when the unharmonious relationship of Zeus and Poseidon reaches the breaking point, and I had barrels of fun watching this movie. Okay, maybe not the case. Try the exact opposite.
QUESTIONS: How many kids are actually named Percy these days?
I imagine that working on the screenplay for Percy Jackson must have been similar to the experience of making drugs in a meth lab. Eventually, the awfulness of such material starts to get to every part of your psyche, and your brain begins to rot. Nothing else could explain this giant failure of a mishmash plot, which has Percy and Co. going to a wizard school demi-god camp, then on a road trip to find three pearls, which will then get them access out of hell, all of which will somehow help them retrieve this one giant phallic stick (excuse me, lightning bolt). Right around the first hour, you can hear the writers playing “Incense and Peppermints” by Strawberry Alarm Clock, and laughing to themselves while scripting a scene that has the three whippersnappers eating a flower substance at a Las Vegas casino, and being unaware of how they've wasted five days of their life.
Parents, let’s have a talk. This movie is not the good kind of fun that you want your offspring to experience. It is piled with unnecessary scenes of phony violence that use educational topics like Greek mythology only as an excuse for a fight sequence. There are at least five moments in the movie where Percy “Action” Jackson is battling some character from mythology, and it has very little to do with the actual origins of said character.
If that stuff doesn’t pass on the meth-like side effects, here are some other odd “elements” in the movie that can possibly seep their way into your child’s brain. Percy Jackson is shown hiding underwater for seven minutes, and this is before he finds out why he has such ability. What is to stop little Quigley from going underwater and trying to find out whether he is a demi-god the hard way? Or, worse enough, the film has this really awful view of divorced parents. Why is Percy’s real father never around? Because he’s a god, duh! But, no fear, Father Jackson is always "watching over" the son. Even if he’s not paying child support, he might as well be … a deadbeat god-dad.
Plus, this is just an awful movie. Picture books about Greek mythology would cost you less, and instill in your children a much better idea of decent storytelling (don’t ruin their brains so they can’t become the next Chuck Palahniuk!)
However, after the film was over, the 11-year old next to me exclaimed to his comrade, “Why, I do believe that is my most favorite film out of all that I’ve ever seen!” So perhaps people like the seat-rocking Quigley will like it, but bear in mind this flick will only hold such a credible ranking until your child sees their next movie.
FINAL SCORE: 2/10