1 Disc Widescreen DVD, being released June 29, 2010
“Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” besides being a mouthful was directed by Chris Columbus with a screenplay by Craig Titley based on the novel by Rick Riordan. Riordan’s books much like the Harry Potter series, have really taken off particularly with the middle school age crowd. His stories follow Percy Jackson named after Perseus who discovers he is a demi-god, son of Poseidon and that there are other demi-gods living among them. Once thrown into this new world, he is wrongfully accused of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt and has to find a way to rectify the situation to save his mother being held hostage.
The story itself is charming and empowering much in the same style as Harry Potter. Just like Harry, Percy discovers he has powers, that there is a place he can go to train and learn more about his past and his abilities with other children like him and also like Harry, someone out there resents him and is setting him up to take a fall. For heaven’s sake, Harry even has a lightning bolt scar on his face! Despite all these similar factors, the story works and is appealing, particularly to children with dyslexia like Percy has. Of course, his turns out to be a special ability to read ancient Greek so good for him.
Percy is played by Logan Lerman whom you might remember from “3:10 to Yuma” looks like an up and coming Zac Efron with almost Elijah Wood caliber blue eyes so holds his own pretty good appearance-wise and emotionally as a lead in this series. Catherine Keener lends extra star power by playing his mother, Sally.
His sidekick or “protector” has he prefers to be called is Grover played by Brandon T. Jackson. Grover is a Satyre whose first priority is to look out for Percy (second priority to find hot chicks). Percy’s love interest is Annabeth, daughter of Athena, played by Alexandra Daddario who is very intense with a sword and even more so with her piercing blue eyes.
More stars clocking in here are Pierce Brosnan in a too-short stay as a Centaur professor, Uma Therman as a wonderfully hypnotic Medusa, Sean Bean as Zeus, and Rosario Dawson as the very seductive Persephone, wife and hostage of Hades.
The story is fun and exciting, not as much as the more popular Harry Potter series, but a good one for kids to jump into since Harry Potter’s movie run will be ending soon and this Olympians series is just getting started. Hopefully as the characters age, the intensity will as well following the pattern set before it. I highly recommend checking it out. It’s young, cute, adventure-y, and brings in all that fun Greek God mythology. Heck, I liked the Medusa in this film better than the one they came up with for the “Clash of the Titans” remake which is saying a lot since they went a different route and made her all modern here. Gotta love exciting times and mutant-like abilities!
In the deleted scenes, Grover takes pictures on his cell phone of one of the naked Greek statues, gives some back story on a failure in his past being a protector, dances and fights more at the Lotus casino, and Hades laments how miserable his life in hell is making a good argument for letting him have the power to overthrow his brothers which is probably why it was cut.
There is a Powers Quiz that poses a series of statements asking you to choose how you feel about it with happy/sad/mad/indifferent faces and apparently matches you to the most likely God who would be your parent.
“The Book Comes to Life” is a featurette where the author Rick Riordan talks about having his kids and his students read this book before he sent it off to a publisher and how the grassroots phenonmenon of popularity started for the series. Chris Columbus was attracted to the project because his daughter was listening to the book on tape and she is dyslexic just like the main character so he loved how empowering this was for kids with dyslexia to dream of being a demi-god. Of course there is a trailer in the extras too but that goes without saying.
I did not get to review the Blu-Ray edition, but it apparently has twice as many deleted scenes and four more featurettes about Greek Gods and being on the set with Brandon T. Jackson.