Friday, February 12, 2010

Let's Get Critical: An Extremely Partial take on THE LIGHTNING THIEF

The film's strengths (in my opinion, of course)
- [Some] of the cast...including
  • Logan Lerman - :))) He's every bit as adorable as I imagined!
  • But he's as old as my youngest brother! Hey, that's only 3 years, though! Wait, what am I saying?!?!
  • Pierce Brosnan - he's great with a horse's ____ :))
  • Uma Thurman - she's great, isn't she?! I've been Team Uma ever since The Producers, and I was so excited to hear that she was Medusa! Ohh, she was thoroughly creepy too!
  • Sean Bean - aka BOROMIR!!! He's always awesome :)
  • Jake Abel - LOVE HIM! He's pretty much the Taylor Lautner of the Percy Jackson series, in that he made a totally annoying character fun-worthy. So blessings to Jake! And he's cute, in a more-my-age-level-than-Logan way. He definitely had the Brad-Pitt-in-Troy look :)
  • Steve Coogan - you know, when I think of Hades, I still think of this:
but he was still pretty good! Think "Tim Burton," and you'll know just what to look for
But it's not Tim Burton, though. It's Hades!

- And just to prove that I am most definitely capable of being "open-minded" and all that, I have pretty much changed my mind over Brandon T. Jackson. He acted the role very well - for what he was called to do in the script - and I got this annoyingly warm and fuzzy feeling when I was paying attention to him. So yeah, I'm cool with him as Grover :)

- the visual effects. This movie is *NO* Twilight! Consistently spectacular throughout the film, the visual effects pretty much sold the movie for me. I was momentarily distracted from checking my phone to see how much longer we had to go, and yes, I did that.

The film's weaknesses (here's where I start to turn into one of the Kindly Ones)
- [Some] of the cast... including
  • Alexandra Daddario. Okay, I couldn't stand her in May when I found out that she had booked the job, and I still can't stand her. She's a fine actress, but she's not Annabeth. She's not blonde, but even if she was, she still would clash with Logan. To me, Brandon definitely looks older than Logan (and he is) but he's able to pull it off somehow. She does not look like a possible love interest for him...I got the hibbidy-jibbidies when she and Logan were on screen together, and my roommate/best friend Lindsey kept whispering, "Cradle robber! Cradle robber!" in my ear. Word, Linds, word. So yeah, I was not happy there. And Annabeth's my favorite character in the series (besides Percy!) so that was a major letdown.
  • Catherine Keener. Yeah, her resume pretty much spans the length of the Oregon Trail, but she just didn't seem like Sally Jackson to me. Of course, I like my Sally from when I did a Fantasy Cast in the summer - anyone watch "The Tudors" or "Burn Notice"? I think Gabrielle Anwar would have been perfect. I don't know, Catherine just seemed a little too old... but I have no complaints on her acting. So whatever...
  • Kevin McKidd - I'm sorry, but he totally does not look like Poseidon! Umm, I'm still not sure whether he's a redhead or a blonde or what, but...hello!?! I thought his acting was very second-class, too. I got that vibe pretty early on, when he and Sean Bean were having their brotherly spat at the beginning of the film, all I heard was Sean saying, "Who are you again and why am I in a scene with you? I'm Boromir, for gods sake!!"
- The script. Okay, this Craig Titley dude needs to be spanked with a wooden spoon, because the script was just totally dorkworthy! I mean, it sounded like something out of a B-movie. The dialogue was so incredibly Action Flick Cliche, like I didn't text down any parts of the dorky, dorky script but yeah it was pretty bad. And a bad script will almost certainly show itself in the acting. The actors can only carry a movie so far if they've got less than impressive material to work with. The script was definitely the emodiment of the film's weaknesses. And I don't know why, exactly - it should have been as easy as Easy-Bake Oven to write the script for this - hello, Rick Riordan's books!! I really got the idea that no one in the production - the writers, the producers, even the actors - read the books. Now, if you've read the whole series, or even if you've read The Lightning Thief, you will more than likely be aware of the really funny and wry writing style that Riordan so thoroughly uses. There's none of that. Our fun and endearing quotes from The Lightning Thief are pretty much ignored in this film. In Harry Potter and even Twilight, they have a lot of direct quotes - it would have been even more awesome to use in this film because I think the source-material is a better quality. Percy's a hysterical narrator! They shouldn't have needed to turn Grover into the SNL-esque comic relief character...

- Next point: Umm, I don't really know how exactly to say this the best way, so I'll just trudge in...this film at times got a bit too much into the innuendo. As in, Camp Half-Blood kind of resembled a mix between the setting for Lord of the Flies and Animal House. Nymphs were running around getting all skanky with Percy and Grover (doesn't last long, but it was still annoying) and the Daughters of Aphrodite pretty much came straight over from a Van Wilder film. Um, you may like that kind of humor, and I do, sometimes (hey, let's face it: Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle is downright hysterical sometimes! So is Old School). But that's not what *this* movie is supposed to be. Percy Jackson, like it or not, has a target audience of about 9-13. Now hear me, I read the books when I was 21. My brothers liked it. I've got several college friends who don't even remember who Harry Potter is because they're so Percy-warped... BUT we like the books for what they are, we apparently like a YA-themed story with YA-age characters. It seems very counterintuitive of the powers that be to try and age this up. And they definitely did. I mean, they turned Persephone into a tramp. That's not necessary, Hollyweird. If anything, you should know that kid movies make the most $$$. So that kind of irked at me like a bothersome splinter.

- Too. Many. Changes. Characters were totally absent, and I'm not talking about that Dude from Page 57, I'm talking pretty major characters, like Clarisse and the gods. Where's Dionysus? He's the friggin' Camp Director! Where's Ares? Where's HERMES? I wanted to put up "Have You Seen This God?" posters in the lobby! Oh, and there's no Oracle, and no prophecy. Percy pretty much says, "Hey, I'm gonna go find my mommy!" and Annabeth and Grover say "Sounds fun, we'll go with you!!" and off they go, holding hands and singing about the wonderful Wizard of Oz.

*Facepalm* And then at the end, everything's a little too...umm, easy?! That may not be the right word, but I seem to recall Zeus being way more Lord Testosterone than he is in this film. He's a little too "Peace Love and Crabs" for my taste, too much like "Aww gee willickers! I didn't really want to go to war and end civilization after all! Let's all HUG!" *Facepalm*
Now granted, I'm all for changing up little things: there were a few scenes that I liked better in the movie, or at least I think they transitioned better...
  • Watch for a Jake & Logan showdown at the end of the film - that was *Extremely* well-done! 'Atta job, boys!
  • The Hydra is pretty noteworthy, too. Yeah, I don't know what they're going to do about The Sea of Monsters - maybe take a monster from The Titan's Curse... but it was pretty good. Like I said, the visuals pretty much make this a fairly decent film.
I'm not unreasonable - you can't make a movie exactly like the book. But a lot of these changes were just arbitrary, and they seemed like almost insulting to the fans and to the original books.
If you haven't read the books, you will either really like this film, or be really confused, because the book explains a lot of stuff that the film just "pffft whatever!"s over. Every single person I've talked to who's read the books has not been very impressed, except for one girl and she didn't like the books - Percy's a "cardboard character' in her opinion. Umm, nope, that opinion is unacceptable! Toss her to the hydra!

Oh, and that's another thing. Umm, The Underworld is not Hell. I'm so sick of this, gah! The film depicts Hades just like Hell - fire and brimstone and stuff like that, whereas the Underworld in Greco-Roman mythology was more described as this gloomy, dreary place (except for Elysium, of course). But no fire. And no brimstone.

Okay, so if I try and convince myself that this is just a standalone film that resembles my beloved Percy Jackson series, I could really like it...but the fact that this was a very loose adaptation of a NY Times Bestselling series is a real letdown. Hollywood needs to be sent to bed without supper! Visuals and a partially strong cast weren't enough to totally save this, for me at least. A little 7 or 8 year old kid was walking out of the theatre right in front of us, and he looked up at his parents with sweet, innocent eyes and said, "That sucked worse than Eragon!" Word, Fanboy. Word.

Rating: 3.5/5. It's a fun film to watch, sure, but like Lady Chatterley, it's very unfaithful...
Logan Lerman is hot, though. And when he was in the water, you could totally see his ABS! :DD On that extremely positive note, I end this totally partial review :D

9 shout-outs!:

Unknown said...

Great review! I'm so excited to see it.

Christina T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christina T said...

Fantastic review. I'm surprised by some of the changes they made like getting rid of the Oracle and fun characters like Clarisse. I was really looking forward to seeing this but I think I may wait till it comes to the dollar theater or hits DVD. I kind of hope they won't make the rest of the series into movies.

Amelia said...

Me too Christina!! I hope that's not like mean or anything, but I was just thinking, "Bomb! Bomb! Bomb!" and hoping they won't get the chance to make any more.
Eragon, Golden Compass, Inkeart, etc. None of them are being expanded...

Katy said...

"A little 7 or 8 year old kid was walking out of the theatre right in front of us, and he looked up at his parents with sweet, innocent eyes and said, "That sucked worse than Eragon!" Word, Fanboy. Word."

Oh no! Worse than Eragon? I can't imagine anything worse! :( I've kind of been looking forward to seeing this (don't throw me to the Hydra ;), but I was just lukewarm about the book) but I don't think I've seen one good review of the movie yet! Still worth getting a babysitter and getting out of the house, but I'll go in there with more realistic expectations now. I'm dumbfounded that they cut out Ares--he was one of my favorite characters in the book.

The Critic said...

If anybody knows the White Collar TV show, Alexandra Daddario plays a twenty or late twenty-somethingyear old. Yeah I thought that was really unprofessional of Hollywood to do such a thing.

Nonie said...

I totally agree with you about the horrible script. I thought the movie was ok, though..and oh, I 100% agree with you on Logan Lerman.

Rae\ said...

and it's a good thing, amelia (that they aren't expanding and making the others in Eragon[especially] and Golden Compass, though I did like what they did for Inkheart- they did well with what they were given/had)

Sheri said...

I sure hope you have your comments hooked up to your email, or you're probably never going to see this. Yes, I remembered reading this review back in February, but just NOW got around to actually redboxing the movie. (I have 4 young kids... I don't get out much). And like the nerd I am, I searched your archives so I could read it again.
Anyway... LOVE your review. After finally watching the movie, I agreed with every point you made (and I laughed out loud more than once). Could not STAND the girl who played Annabeth. Looked way too old, and I thought she had weird eyes. The movie was so different from the book, I never had a clue what to expect next.
Ok, that's all! I meant to just re-read your review and then silently move on, but I couldn't help commenting because I agreed so completely with you. Thanks for your very entertaining review... and my apologies for joining in on the fun several months late. I guess at some point I should actually read the other books in the series, so that you can still call me a friend.

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