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Friday, June 21, 2024

Is ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ hot garbage? – Film Daily

When Disney announced its plans to reboot the Percy Jackson series, eyebrows raised in skeptical curiosity. Could the new Disney+ series revive the magic that seemed lost in the previous film adaptations of Rick Riordan’s beloved novels? 

With Riordan himself steering the ship this time as writer, creator, and executive producer, alongside Jon Steinberg, it seemed there might be a glimmer of hope. Now, having delved into the first half of the inaugural season, it’s time to see if this reboot has managed to capture the lightning in a bottle.

A Deeper Dive into Demigod Drama

Unlike the rushed narrative of the films, the long-form TV series format of Percy Jackson and the Olympians offers ample room to breathe. 

With eight episodes averaging forty minutes each, the series delves deeper into the complexities of The Lightning Thief, ensuring even the minor characters get their moment in the sun. The show tackles themes of power, justice, and belonging, setting the stage for a more immersive and emotionally resonant experience. 

The premiere episode, “I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-Algebra Teacher,” efficiently sets the tone, introducing us to Percy (Walker Scobell), his friend Grover (Aryan Simhadri), and their soon-to-be-upended lives.

Visually Striking, But Not Without Flaws

Director James Bobin, known for Muppets Most Wanted, brings a unique visual flair to the series. The dramatic lighting, the play of shadows, and the gold and blue color palette in the first episode create a dreamlike atmosphere that’s a step up from previous Disney+ offerings. 

However, the magic slightly dims in later episodes. Despite this, the show’s CG work, especially with its array of magical creatures, remains consistently impressive. It’s only in the dream sequences that the show’s reliance on LED-screen backdrops becomes a tad too conspicuous, slightly marring the visual experience.

Finding the Right Pace

Each episode is a mix of hits and misses in terms of pacing. The second episode, for instance, tries to cram a substantial training sequence into its runtime, sidelining important characters like Chiron (Glynn Turman) and Dionysus (Jason Mantzoukas). They become mere plot devices rather than fleshed-out characters.

The fourth episode, “I Plunge To My Death,” slows things down too much, trapping our heroes in a train and resorting to more tell-don’t-show narrative methods. These pacing issues, however, are minor when considering the series’ overall trajectory.

What truly makes the show sparkle is the authenticity of its young cast. Scobell, Simhadri, and Jeffries shine brightest when they’re simply being kids – their Gen Z quirks and humor feel genuine and refreshing, especially when compared to the grown-up actors playing teens in shows like Riverdale. Their portrayal adds a layer of authenticity and relatability to the series, making the stakes feel all the more real.

The series doesn’t just entertain; it also challenges and questions. It flips the script on classic myths and explores moral complexities that were the backbone of the original books. Scenes where Percy and Annabeth grapple with the grey areas of their mythical world and the fallibility of their parents resonate deeply, offering valuable lessons for its young audience.

A Promising Start with Room to Grow

In its first four episodes, Percy Jackson and the Olympians shows a lot of promise. It’s a faithful adaptation of The Lightning Thief, sometimes to a fault, as it tries to pack in as many book details as possible. 

But at its best, the series not only adapts but reimagines Riordan’s world for a modern audience, and does so with style. There’s a sense that the series is still finding its footing, but the foundations are strong, and the potential for greatness is palpable.

So, with this new take on an old favorite, could we be witnessing the start of a new era for Percy Jackson? And more importantly, will this series finally do justice to the world Riordan created?

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