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

25 Jun, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Street 6/29/10
Box Office $88.7 million
$29.98 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray
Rated ‘PG’ for action violence and peril, some scary images and suggestive material, and mild language.
Stars Logan Lerman, Sean Bean, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Pierce Brosnan, Catherine Keener, Rosario Dawson, Uma Thurman.

In a time of vampires invading high schools and small-town U.S.A., it should come as no surprise that a group of “demigod” teens (children of Greek mythological gods who procreated with humans) inhabit this country as well.

And so it is that New York City do-gooder Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) can sit at the bottom of a swimming pool indefinitely but has troubles in school with perceived dyslexia and attention deficit disorder. He is, after all, the unknowing son of Poseidon (god of the sea) with a brain hardwired to translate English into ancient Greek, among other quirky dysfunctions.

In Percy Jackson & the Olympians — based on a young adult book series by Rick Riordan — Percy is wrongly accused by Zeus (Sean Bean, in a limited role) of stealing his lightning bolt — no minor slight as Zeus threatens to unleash hell on Earth battling his brothers Poseidon (Kevin McKidd) and Hades (British comedian Steve Coogan) should it not be returned.

Percy’s mother (oddly cast Catherine Keener) has shacked up with an abusive stepfather (Joe Pantoliano) to throw Zeus off her son’s trail. It's to no avail, of course, when Hades discovers Percy while on a museum field trip headed by the boy’s wheelchair-bound classics teacher (Pierce Brosnan), who is also a centaur (man/horse hybrid).

Pure fantasy follows as Percy and classmate Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), who — surprise — is also a satyr (man/goat hybrid), head to Camp Half-Blood (cleverly located below the Parthenon in Nashville), where good-looking young Olympians train for battle. It is here that Percy meets unimpressed Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario from USA Network’s “White Collar”), daughter of Athena.

The trio’s cross-country journey to find the underworld (cynically located by the filmmakers below Hollywood Boulevard) and talk sense into Hades is the typical cinematic buddy quest on par with “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” renditions.

Saddled with a perfunctory plot, Percy Jackson & the Olympians’ special effects under-whelm in an age of 3D — a reality likely remedied in a probable sequel considering the film generated $137.2 million in foreign box office.

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