From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief - B

Rated PG for action violence and peril, some scary images and suggestive material, and mild language, 119 minutes

"Percy Jackson" is familiar but energetic fun for the family

Those who are excited about the upcoming Winter Olympics and enjoy a good action-fantasy film, then "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief" may be for you. Considering it's mid-February, "The Lightning Thief," based on a series of popular children's books of the same name, is decent fun with a kinetic spirit and is often visually stunning, even if it all feels way too familiar, in a "Harry Potter" sort of way.

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is a typical teenager who has a love for water and is also ADHD and dyslexic. Through a series of unusual circumstances, he discovers that he's a demigod - part human, part Greek god - and is actually the son of Greek god Poseidon (Kevin McKidd). The gods, led by Zeus (Sean Bean), accuse him of being a lightning thief, stealing one of Zeus's bolts. Zeus wants his bolt back, or the gods will break out in war that will threathen all of humanity. Percy, along with his friends Grover (Brandon Jackson), a satyrm (half goat/half man) and Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), the demigod daughter of Athena, journey to the Underworld to get to the gods to save mankind and his mother (Catherine Keener), who's been kidnapped by the gods.

"The Lightning Thief" is fast-paced, boisterous fun that's designed to be the next big franchise. Director Chris Columbus, who helmed with first two "Harry Potter" films, provides a nice kickstart, with a handful of big, action-set pieces and some memorable visuals with what is largely a faithful adaptation of the novel, with a few minor changes that still retains the heart of Rick Riordan's novel while expanding on its visuals.

The film is best in its initial sections, introducing us to Percy, his friends and a colorful cast. Columbus also benefits from an inspired cast, with Lerman grounding the film as a slightly older Percy than the books. There's also a host of talented actors that provide stellar support: Pierce Brosnan as the half man/half horse, "Lord of the Rings" Sean Bean as Zeus, the warm Keener as the mom, Steve Coogan as Hades and especially Uma Thurman, who almost walks off with the movie in a brief part as the ravishing Medusa.

"The Lightning Thief" falters in its mid-section as it drifts off during the trio's journey, not to mention it all has a busyness and an overly familiar "been there done that" ring to it. With Columbus at the helm, it has a Harry Potter-esque feel to it and the comparisons are inevitable - three young heroes, the central one of which is a young boy, all of whom possess special powers, not to mention all the interesting characters and visuals that surround them. Even with some enjoyable special-effects and a breathless finale, you still seem to wait for Harry Potter to arrive on the scene at any moment.

But then, that's probably the point, since this appeals toward that same Harry Potter audience. That's not to say "The Lightning Thief" doesn't have its entertaining moments (my favorites: Thurman's Medusa, Coogan's rock-star Hades and the multi-headed dragon), there are plenty of them and this could satisy the appetities of those clamoring for a big action-fantasy film until the next Harry Potter film is released later this year.