Saturday, February 13, 2010

Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightening Thief (the movie)

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief (the movie) (Released February 12, 2010) recommends for teenagers and adults. It lightly deals with issues of single parenting, abusive and absentee parents. Sexual humour is threaded throughout. The characters are drugged in a scene which visually portrays the essence of being high and enjoying it.

While is not in the habit of reviewing movies (check out www.pluggedinonline if you want a movie review), we are planning to upload the review for this book soon and thought viewing the movie on its premier night would be a fun introduction to the series.

What can we say; it is Greek mythology after all! So parents who had the privilege of a traditional education reading the classics should recall all of the issues that could be dealt with in any story based upon Greek myths. Starting to get worried about whether the content is appropriate for your kids? Don’t! At least don’t worry about the older kids. For the most part, the movie presents only that information from the myths that is necessary to understand their society, the Gods and the hierarchy. The wealth of accurate mythological detail in the movie is amazing and makes it fun to guess what may be coming next. But it’s not squeaky clean... don’t be surprised at the sexual connotations throughout, beginning early on with the daughters of Aphrodite in bikinis inviting the boys to their party. Grover the Satyr is lady crazy and, when the threesome lands in Las Vegas, he is surrounded by women pawing at him and planning to marry him. The Las Vegas scenes include some cleavage-revealing dresses but only one film shot up close. And Persephone in the Underworld (hell) makes very clear what she intends to do with Grover.

In the book, the main character Percy is a 12 year old boy. In the movie, the main characters appear to be much older teens and Grover chases women, not girls. This film very clearly deals with older teen/young adult issues, not those of middle school boys.

We may have missed it, but only caught two uses of profanity (a--) and a sexual reference early on (the Gods came down to earth to “hook up” with mortals). Visually, a few of the scenes are pretty intense and the sword or knife fights show cutting of skin and bleeding. But it is primarily the sexuality of the film that renders it inappropriate for elementary and middle school children. The Las Vegas scene went on for too long. It begins with the three main characters being drugged and experiencing being high in a way that appealing to the senses. Although the characters eventually figure out why it is happening and escape, there is no moral lesson learned from the incident. It then proceeds into campy Vegas action of women who, although clothed, are intended to be sexual objects. Grover begins to act more like a rap artist chasing the ladies, and later ladies are all over him. It is as if they took adult content and attempted to down-age it by eliminating most (not all) close-up views of body parts and using tween-friendly vibrant colors for the set. Nothing about this scene fit in with the rest of the movie.

A new look at single mom’s and absentee dads. The movie’s setting portrays Percy and his mother living with a drunken, unemployed and abusive stepfather. Percy does not understand why his mother remains with the man but the reason is made known to us early on (and is another example of the humour woven throughout!). He holds resentment for his father abandoning them. Later, we meet Luke who holds much more resentment towards his own father, instructing Percy to “kick his a—“ if he sees him. While in the beginning, it may look like a diss-the-dad film, don’t let this fool you. Pay attention to how Poseidon is watching over Percy throughout, longing to be with his son but unable to for reasons beyond his control. It is also clear that Percy’s mother and father loved each other very much. Which leads to the very strong relationship between Percy and his mother.

The movie’s storyline and dialogue emphasizes the classic virtues, loyalty to family and friends, civic duty, honesty, and self-discipline. It is very funny throughout too. All aspects of the production quality are excellent and the action is fast-paced. And so, with the exception of the Las Vegas scene and the sexual connotations that pop up elsewhere, it demonstrates good character and was very enjoyable.

Interestingly, we sat between three boys of about 9-10 years in age, and two older teenage girls. Most of the audience were families or tween/teen children, although some younger children did attend. The boys did not laugh or respond during the entire film, while the rest of the audience (including those two teen girls next to us) clearly enjoyed it immensely. Let’s face it; the boys probably didn’t know enough about the Greek myths to enjoy it, and were too young to enjoy the humour too. So if your elementary or middle school children want your money to see this movie, keep them at home and rent them the DVD for Inkheart instead. Send your teens to the theatre to see this movie.

And tell them not to leave the theatre until after the credits, or they will miss the surprise ending!

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Thank you for your comment! We will review it shortly and look forward to discussing this book with you!