Director: Thor Freudenthal
Cast: Logan Lerman, Douglas Smith, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Leven Rambin, Jake Abel, Stanley Tucci, Anthony Head and Nathan Fillion
Plot: When a magical tree that shields their home from enemies is poisoned, Percy Jackson (Lerman) and his team are sent on a quest to get the Golden Fleece.
Mythology movies haven’t really done too well in recent memory. ‘The Immortals’ was forgettable and any admiration we had for ‘Clash of the Titans’ was stomped out by the terrible sequel. Enter Percy Jackson, a franchise with already one disaster at the box office to its name, re-treading old ground, fingers crossed that it will fare a little better.
I didn’t catch the original movie, but thankfully, the story isn’t too hard to pick up, with the exception of a few beats. In this universe, demi-Gods, including Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon, hide in a town deep in the forests from outsiders and enemies. One day, an old enemy returns and threatens to resurrect Kronos, leaving the town unprotected in his wake. Percy, facing identity issues at the time, as well as meeting his half-brother, who happens to have Cyclops blood, goes on the quest to get the Golden Fleece, capable of saving the town’s defences. As well as dealing with the bad guys, Percy has to handle a rival quester, a sea full of monsters and a prophecy that hints that he could be the guy that brings about the apocalypse.
Empire Magazine summed this up best by saying that Percy Jackson has ‘an aroma of pointlessness’. There is no demand for this movie. It is based on a collection of teen novels, trying to tap into the Harry Potter, Twilight or Hunger Games audience, trying to capture the tone of all three. There is nothing particularly bad here, but it’s not quite good enough to recommend either. The best way I can describe this film is going through the motions. We have a quest, an item that can save the world and an unlikely hero. The writers put all of these plot points in motion, give them a little push and just see where they end up. As a result, it becomes a tad predictable and there is little, if any, sense of originality.
Not to say it’s offensive to watch. It’s an easy viewing, which I appreciated. The leading man, Logan Lerman, does the best job he can with the material given. If we are to compare this to its obvious inspiration, Harry Potter, Lerman does a better job that Daniel Radcliffe ever did. His co-stars are hardly awful to watch, although they do feel like a bunch of clichés stapled together. We get the funny, sarcastic friend figure, the wise female and then a rival character. Even the villain, Jake Abel, feels so stereotypical evil that his performance comes across as hollow. I mean… his plan is resurrecting Kronos, which was never going to end well for the guy. I have no idea what his motivation was. The movie is left in the hands of the kids, but, just like Harry Potter, it is the adults that breathe that much needed life into the film. Stanley Tucci steals every scene he is in, a fan favourite, judging from the laughter in the audience. My personal ‘man of the match’ goes to Nathan Fillion, who only gets one scene, but totally owns it. The writers even give him a ‘Firefly’ joke. Sadly, unlike Harry Potter, there aren’t enough opportunities to get the adult stars into the film, especially when the quest kicks in, so these brilliant moments are far too fleeting.
Another surprising shock for me was that there aren’t enough monsters too. ‘Sea of Monster’ might be an apt name, as the only sea beast we actually see is Charybdis. There are other monsters back on land, but I found the sequences a little lacking. The Cyclops was more comical than scary and Kronos, once again, doesn’t seem to put up much a fight. No one seems to know how to make a film out of the Titan. I think the tone hurt the drama a lot too. Despite no one ever surviving the ‘Sea of Monsters’, none of the characters seemed particularly scared. It all seemed like a game between Percy and rival, Clarissa. There were a couple of moments at the start, where Clarissa would genuinely be moody that Percy survived a fight. I mean… they’re rivals; surely she doesn’t actually want to see him dead.
On the plus side, I really enjoyed the humour of the film. I admired that the director would let a scene go on that beat longer, just to get a joke in there. It brightened up the film and most of the gags worked. Sure, the adults understood where the director was going with it more than the teens did, but it got laughter from the audience all the same. I think that is a major plus for the film. Sure, I didn’t think it was amazing, but the cinema was full of laughing kids. They lapped this film up. Maybe they are the better judge for this kind of film.
However, for all of the film’s flaws, they did get a director called Thor for a movie about gods. Points for that.
Final Verdict: Not for me, but the kids loved it. Also, better than most of the other modern Greek Mythology movies. At the very least, this movie is fun.