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Blu-ray Review: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

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The Percy Jackson books by author Rick Riordan are a successful series that started in 2005. The books follow the tales of a demigod (one parent is a god, the other mortal), Perseus "Percy" Jackson, who is the son of Poseidon. The series has become increasingly popular over the years, so it makes sense that a film adaptation of the series would be attempted.

In the film Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is a boy living with his mom Sally (Catherine Keener) and step-dad Gabe (Joe Pantoliano), who Percy doesn’t get along with. He has never met his real dad. He hasn’t had an easy life and it’s about to get worse as Zeus’s (Sean Bean) master lightning bolt has been stolen. Zeus tells his brother Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) that Percy is responsible; Poseidon says his son is innocent, but Zeus doesn’t care and demands the bolt be returned by midnight on the summer solstice which arrives in 14 days or war will begin between the Olympians.

Percy has had protectors watching over him his entire life in secret, but when a Fury attacks him on a school trip, his protectors know he must be moved to safety. Percy then learns his best friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) is a satyr and his Latin teacher Mr. Brunner (Pierce Brosnan) is a centaur and the duo decide to move him to Camp Half-blood.

Camp Half-blood is where demigods live and train, and Brunner is the camp trainer. However once Percy is at camp, Hades makes his presence known by telling Percy he has taken Sally prisoner and will free her if Percy gives him the lightning bolt. Percy then meets Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario)  daughter of Athena, and Luke (Jake Abel), son of Hermes. 

Percy needs to get to the underworld, rescue his mom, and get out. Getting in isn’t a problem, but leaving will be. Luke tells Percy about the pearls Hades’ wife Persephone (Rosario Dawson) has placed around the country so she can have “visitors” without her husband’s knowledge.

Percy, Annabeth, and Grover head off to find the pearls and encounter Medusa (Uma Thurman), Hades, and more as they try to save Sally, find the bolt, and clear Percy’s name.

The movie is fun. My 11-year-old stepdaughter is a big fan of the books and was the main reason I got the film. She enjoyed the film, said it was different than the book, but she was okay with that. Since she also likes the Harry Potter movies and books and has accepted the differences, this wasn’t a big deal.

I can see how some people might think this is a Greek version of Harry Potter and having Christopher Columbus, who directed the first two Potter films, helming it probably didn’t help. But this is a different story and has a bit more star power than when Potter started out, even if they don’t get much screen time. Sean Bean is imposing as Zeus, Uma Thurman is creepy yet convincing as Medusa, and Rosario Dawson plays the frustrated wife very well.

As for the main cast, Logan Lerman is well cast as the boy destined for greater things, Brandon T. Jackson is great as Percy’s protector/sidekick and Alexandra Daddario is convincing as the brains/tactician of the trio. Now here is where these three might get compared to the trio from Harry Potter, but that combination has been around for decades. When I think of a trio of heroes I think of Han, Luke, and Leia from Star Wars, while someone a little older might think of Star Trek’s Kirk, McCoy, and Spock. It all depends on your point of view.

Video: The movie looks good in Blu-ray. It’s presented in 1080p and as it’s a darker film visually, many of the scenes are presented in blacks and blues. However the actors are never washed out by shadows and you can see each image. It's even better when the Lightning is on screen — it’s a brilliant blue that’s looks visually stunning!

Audio: The film's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is very good; it never overpowers the dialogue, nor interferes with it. You can understand each actor’s lines, and can distinguish each of them.

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief comes with a number of extras; however with the exception of the deleted scenes, they all clock in at less than six minutes.

There are deleted scenes which include an alternate introduction to Annabeth, more fighting, more running, and scenes trimmed for time. All nice to see, but they don’t really add much to the plot.

“The Book Comes to Life” features an interview with the author of the franchise, Rick Riordan.  The author discusses what inspired him to write the series, what it’s like to see his characters come to life for the film, the influence of Greek mythology on pop culture today and how the series took some time to become a success.

“Inside Camp Half-Blood” this featurette covers the stunt and sword training the cast had to undergo for the film. It also pays attention to the design of the camp itself.

 “On Set with Brandon T. Jackson” follows the actor portraying Grover as he spends time on the set. This extra also covers how Jackson’s legs were digitally removed to give him the animal legs as seen in the film.

 “Meet the Demigods” spotlights the cast who briefly talk about their characters, the plot and more.

"Composing for the Gods: A Conversation with Christophe Beck" talks with film composer Christophe Beck who discusses how he scored the film.

So while Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is being compared to Harry Potter or called a Greek version of Harry Potter, it’s still it’s own entity and provides fun entertainment for the family. There’s been no word if there will be a sequel, but hopefully there will be and provide the opportunity to show that it can stand on its own two feet.      

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