Posted by: MrJoseph45 | March 2, 2010

The Crisis of the Lightning Thief

Over this past weekend, I decided to indulge myself and check out a movie on the big screen and make a new movie purchase.  As I’ve (hopefully) made abundantly clear, I love movies.  I love watching movies, I love writing about movies, and I love listening to the music of the movies.  That being said, a trip to both the movies and the video store are like a trip to nirvana for me.  The movies I’ll be reviewing are Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief, and Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.  Lots of words in those titles, so let’s get it started.

On Saturday morning, I went driving around trying to kill some time due to the fact that it was too quiet in my apartment.  After driving around looking for breakfast and wasting more time, I saw that the fine French establishment Targét was selling copies of Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths.  Being that I’m a closeted comic book fan (well, maybe not so closeted anymore), I decided to go looking around for it on Blu-ray.  What?  I spent lots of money on a HDTV and PS3 earlier this year, and I’ll be damned if I don’t get every cent’s worth out of it.  Anyway, I went to MovieStop and – after convincing the misguided clerk that I did NOT want to waste my hard earned money on 2012 – I picked it up.

Now, before I get into the review, let me just talk about the disc itself.  I had a conversation with a friend of mine who said that Blu-ray discs are grossly misused, mostly due to the fact that they don’t use all the space they have on the discs.  I think this disc went above and beyond on that.  The disc contains the movie with all of the standard bells and whistles, but the extras are through the roof!  The extras include four full-length episodes of Justice League (A Better World and Twilight), two pilot episodes of DC properties (Wonder Woman and Aquaman), an animated short featuring DC Character The Spectre, and five – count ’em FIVE – behind the scenes interviews about not only this movie, but a sneak peek of Batman: Beyond the Red Hood, Green Lantern: First Flight, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, and Wonder Woman: The Amazon Princess.  This alone was worth the purchase.

As far as the movie goes, it does require a little bit of knowledge about the DC Universe.  With that in mind, it starts off with a heroic version of Lex Luthor leaving an alternate universe and coming into ours to enlist the help of the Justice League (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, Martian Manhunter, and Green Lantern) to help him ward off the Crime Syndicate of his universe.  The Crime Syndicate is basically an evil version of the Justice League, and they are Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Johnny Quick, J’edd J’arkus and Power Ring.  They travel to the alternate universe and realize that a more sinister plot is afoot that could have ramifications for not only the two universes prominently displayed in the movie, but for entire multiverse.

When it comes to an animated movie the voices are the most important thing to concentrate on.  The animation can be fluid and the story can be solid, but if the voice acting is sloppy, the whole movie suffers.  Warner Brothers Animation has proven that they are good at this time and time again, and they did another bang-up job this time.  Granted, their best work was with Justice League, but they did a very good job with this one – they even pulled out some big names to star as the big voices.  Mark Harmon does a good job of voicing Superman, William Baldwin does a passable rendition of Batman (could be better, but let’s face it…he has a tough act to follow with Kevin Conroy being who everyone considers as the epitome of Batman), James Wood does a wonderful job as Owlman – the antithesis of Batman, and Gina Torres brings a sort of sultry venom to Superwoman.  The rest of the cast does phenomenal in their roles, and they bring a sort of gravity to their role.

I mentioned I watched this in Blu-ray, and the animation appeared to pop off the screen at certain points, including the opening credits.  It stood out to me as fluid and virtually flawless, and the music was stunning and drew you in without being overbearing.  The story was very well done, although it appeared to have a well-loved character do a couple of things that are out of character for him.  That being said, it was initially written to be a bridge between Justice League and its spin-off Justice League Unlimited.  It was adjusted to remove many of the elements of the bridge, but there were still some elements that remained.  The movie itself was great, and I don’t regret purchasing it, and I’m going to have plenty of fun watching it for the hours of special features and the movie itself for a long time.

The next day, my wife and I went to the movies to go see Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief.  I saw the trailer for the movie when I went to see James Cameron’s Avatar (I really hate being pretentious, but…*shrugs*) and it really caught my attention.  I showed my wife the trailer – twice, and she said she wanted to see it as well.  So, we decided to check it out on Sunday.  I went in with the knowledge that this movie was based off of a series of fantasy novels aimed at making Greek mythology more palatable for the masses.  With that in mind, let’s begin.

The movie is about Percy Jackson, a teenager at a fictional academy, who – due to a series of events – realizes that he is the product of a Greek God and a human mother.  In short, he’s a demigod, and his father just happens to be…wait for it…Poseidon.  Now, I know what you’re saying; the story is called The Lightning Thief.  Stick with me; it gets better.  He’s accompanied by his old friend Grover Underwood and new friend Annabeth Chase.  These characters aren’t innocent bystanders; they have important parts in this movie as well.  They travel from what appears to be upstate New York (I couldn’t tell to be sure) to Pennsylvania (I think), the Parthenon in Nashville, and Las Vegas.  Along the way, they run into many mythological creatures and mythological entities.  I won’t say anything more on this for fear of ruining the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet and still wish to, but suffice it to say it was an entertaining two hours.

Being that I have no background on the actual novelization series, I can’t say whether or not it was a fair adaptation.  What I can say is that this was a very good young cast.  Logan Lerman did a good job of being the lost kid who grows into himself and realizes who he is to become.  Brandon T. Jackson – most famously known as Alpa Cino in Tropic Thunder – is good for comic relief, and his character is actually very important…and rather envious when he’s left having to deal with Persephone.  Alexandra Daddario was very strong-willed as Annabeth, and the scenes with her and Percy showed that there is indeed a slight future between the two.

This being a part of Greek mythology, you can’t NOT talk about the Greek Gods and Goddesses and the mythological creatures therein.  Sean Bean exhumes a regal gravitas as Zeus, Kevin McKidd (someone I thoroughly enjoyed in Journeyman) showed power with a hint of sadness as Poseidon, and Steve Coogan was humorous as Hades…not as good as James Woods’ version from Disney’s Hercules, but he gave a good effort.  Pierce Brosnan had a good role, although it would’ve been nice to see him onscreen with Sean Bean again; the last time they were onscreen together was in the 1995 James Bond film GoldenEye.  Uma Thurman was deliciously evil as Medusa, whereas Rosario Dawson was just delicious as Persephone.

The film was directed by Chris Columbus, who gained recent prominence by directing the first two Harry Potter films.  He did a good job of controlling what could have been a completely chaotic film, and it even had a bit of a Harry Potter feel to it.  It also felt a bit like Clash of the Titans, but we’ll discuss that when it comes out in a few weeks.  The score by Christophe Beck was decent, but it wasn’t as epic as it could have been.  The music sounded somewhat synthesized, but it was fairly decent.  Personally, I enjoyed the movie, and I’m looking forward to its eventual Blu-ray release.  I give it 3 1/2 dragon heads out of 5, and I recommend you check it out for a fun time at the theaters.

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