Percy Jackson

I went to see Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief today, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  Much glee over the opening sequence with Poseidon turning up in modern day New York wearing something that looked very much like a sailor suit.  I’ve never quite shared the tendency to swoon over Sean Bean that I know affects a lot of my friends’ list, but the same can’t be said of whats-his-name who plays James Bond and was Poseidon in this film.  I am thinking that more men should wear miniskirts these days, if that’s what they look like in them.

Having said that I enjoyed it, I think I may have liked the beginning and end much more than the middle.  I’m getting tired of the “youth discovers he’s special, gains lots of cool powers, goes through a time of testing and comes out a hero” theme.  Admittedly, it’s my fault for watching so many children’s films!  But I think on reflection that I was more interested in the doings of the gods than in what Percy and pals were up to.  All these “gods play games with the fates of men” stories seem to concentrate on the men they use as playing pieces – just once I’d like to see the story from the gods’ point of view.

The special effects were great.  I’ve never seen a better centaur in a film.  He looked positively real.  I also loved the lightning bolt.  I really enjoyed the set-up with the explanation of who Percy was.  It all began to go down hill when he got to the training camp and within minutes was taking down experienced sword-fighters by the sheer power of his bloodline.  I’m kind of fed up with this meme that all you need to do is find the thing that you’re good at.  No amount of practice, training, dedication or hard slog is required.  There are no years and years of working at your skill and perfecting it by slow degrees.  No, Harry gets on the broomstick and instantly he’s the best quidditch player ever.  Percy sticks a hand in the water and heals, and instantly he can take down the best fighter in the school.

If only it worked like that.  But it doesn’t, and the constant repetition of the idea that it does probably damages children’s ability to buckle down and actually practice hard enough to get genuinely good at things.  Grr!

Also grr to the fact that the black guy on the team was a satyr.  Is it me, or is that kind of a demeaning choice?  Initially when I saw he was on crutches, I thought “ooh, he’ll really be the god Hephaestus in disguise.  How cool !”  But no, he doesn’t even get to be a demi-god.  He gets to be a semi-bestial creature who is obsessed with sex.  That’s… not a casting decision I would have made, given the choice.

I did enjoy the first of the three questy-type things.  The overgrown garden centre was genuinely creepy.  And I liked the lotus eaters as well.  Charon was very good – he had definite grim reaper style.  But I was a little disappointed with the Hades = Hell thing.  They’re not the same at all, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a depiction of Hades.  That would have been something different – so I felt that was a bit of a wasted opportunity.

I don’t know that I would watch it again, but I was only a little tiny bit bored by the over-abundance of action at the end, which is a lot more than I could say for the latest Harry Potter.  And it is nice to have the Greek gods back on film.  I think I missed them, over the last 10 years.

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