Thursday, April 1, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief - *

Uh-oh. Somebody stole Zeus' lightning bolt, the most powerful weapon in the universe, and he thinks it's Poseidon's son, Percy Jackson. Thus we have all of the elements that comprise the clumsy, franchise-fishing title, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and I hope that franchise never bites.

It seems like a joke that Chris Columbus directed this film, because it feels like a cheap rip-off of the Harry Potter films, whose first two installments were directed by Columbus. But then again, maybe it is a joke. Columbus has proven to be a capable director in the past, with films like Home Alone and Mrs. Doubtfire, and this latest "effort" uses the same structure: a wacky situation is established in the first fifteen minutes, gags follow. Only with this film, he neglects any kind of character development or dramatic depth, and the action is so far from interesting or entertaining that it making fun of it almost becomes boring after a while. Almost.

There are too many stupid, ridiculous details and plot points to mention, like when the kids go to a casino to get a magic pearl that will let them of the Underworld and get high on Lotus Flowers in a weird rap-video-like montage in which Percy's sidekick, who is half goat, has his hooves painted by beautiful women. A large portion of the rest of the film involves big-name actors taking turns embarrassing themselves in cameo roles as gods along the journey, with bizarre make-up, costumes and accents, like Pierce Brosnan, who begins the film as a teacher in a wheelchair, but later he reveals his lower-half to be that of a horse. But Uma Thurman wins first prize as Medusa, sporting CGI snake-hair and sun-glasses on a decapitated head the kids carry around for most of the film. She even beats Anthony Hopkins' bald, flaming, evil-eyed Wolfman head for worst decapitated head of the February 12th weekend (I wish there had been some competition from Valentine's Day, a film that really needed to decapitate some of its characters). Despite being about gods and quests, the film's only genuine hero is Rosario Dawson's cleavage, because for three and a half minutes it is actually worth it to look at the screen.

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