Percy Jackson and the Olympians review: an ambitious, charming YA fantasy series

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Annabeth, Grover, and Percy guidelines together successful Percy Jackson and nan Olympians.

Percy Jackson and nan Olympians

“Disney+'s Percy Jackson and nan Olympians is nan Rick Riordan adjustment that fans person been waiting for.”

Pros

  • Walker Scobell's likable lead performance
  • A charming, well-cast lineup of supporting performers
  • An progressively engaging crippled and propulsive pace

Cons

  • Unevenly paced first 2 episodes
  • Dodgy VFX and CGI throughout
  • Several one-note characters and rushed characterizations

Adapting writer Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels correctly has ever been a matter of managing tone. Riordan’s first Percy Jackson books whitethorn person been 1 of nan galore YA imagination properties that cropped up successful nan mid-2000s and enjoyed awesome occurrence successful nan aftermath of nan Harry Potter series’ popularity, but they’ve ever boasted a reside and sensibility each their own. The series, which takes spot successful an alternate reality wherever nan creatures, gods, monsters, and heroes of Greek mythology locomotion secretly among nan world’s unsuspecting humans, is much knowingly goofy than galore of its chap YA imagination titles. Its world is 1 wherever nan gods of Mount Olympus unrecorded supra nan Empire State Building, Hades’ Underworld is fittingly located beneath nan streets of Los Angeles, and monsters for illustration Medusa ain plot gnome shops.

In 2010 and 2013, Hollywood attempted to bring nan Percy Jackson novels to life pinch a brace of Logan Lerman-led blockbusters that missed nan people pinch casual viewers and die-hard fans alike. While nan films themselves didn’t awkward distant from their root material’s decidedly singular tone, they did create conflicts betwixt heroes that didn’t beryllium successful Riordan’s original novels, trim full characters and subplots, and — astir blasphemously of each — aged up their halfway characters. These decisions were seemingly made to effort to make nan world of Percy Jackson look arsenic “cool” arsenic possible. But “cool” has ne'er really been what Riordan is going for.

The Disney+ bid Percy Jackson and nan Olympians, Hollywood’s 2nd live-action adjustment of Riordan’s original novels, understands this. The series’ first 4 episodes, which were nan only installments provided to critics early, simultaneously thin each nan measurement into nan zaniest elements of their fictional world and earnestly judge successful nan merits of nan communicative they’re trying to tell. They are not perfect, by immoderate means. Some of nan VFX and CGI featured passim nan episodes are laughably bad, and nan show’s dense usage of Volume-created integer environments is often distracting. But there’s a batch of bosom successful Percy Jackson and nan Olympians and, arsenic his readers will attest, bosom has ever been nan not-so-secret cardinal constituent of Riordan’s work.

Percy wears a Camp Half-Blood garment successful Percy Jackson and nan Olympians.David Bukach / Disney+

Percy Jackson picks up pinch its eponymous leader (played by The Adam Project’s Walker Scobell), a self-professed “troubled kid,” during a schoolhouse section travel that goes awry aft 1 of his teachers, Ms. Dodds (Megan Mullally), transforms into a hideous, winged animal and attacks him. While Percy’s champion friend, Grover Underwood (a charming Aryan Simhadri), and his wheelchair-bound teacher, Mr. Brunner (a magnificently honorable Glynn Turman), respond to Percy’s claims pinch disorder and disbelief, his mother, Sally (Virginia Kull), explains that Percy’s absentee begetter wasn’t conscionable immoderate mean man, but a Greek deity of old. Percy doesn’t initially judge his mother’s assertion that he is simply a “demigod,” but erstwhile he, Sally, and Grover, who reveals himself to beryllium Percy’s satyr protector, upwind up connected nan receiving extremity of a minotaur attack, location isn’t overmuch near for him to dispute.

From there, nan Disney+ show follows Percy arsenic he’s relocated to Camp Half-Blood, a hidden retreat wherever each of nan world’s demigod children are welcomed and kept safe from nan monsters that are drawn to them. There, Mr. Brunner reveals himself to beryllium a centaur named Chiron, and Percy becomes quickly acquainted pinch respective of his chap demigods, including Annabeth Chase (Leah Sava Jeffries), an eager girl of nan Greek goddess, Athena; Luke Castellan (Charlie Bushnell), a wise, welcoming boy of nan messenger deity Hermes (Lin-Manuel Miranda); and Clarisse La Rue (Dior Goodjohn), a hot-headed girl of Ares (Adam Copeland), nan Greek deity of war.

Percy’s clip astatine Camp Half-Blood is trim short erstwhile he is claimed by his father, Poseidon (Toby Stephens), nan Greek deity of nan sea. Percy subsequently learns that he is simply a “forbidden child,” an offspring of 1 of nan Greek pantheon’s 3 strongest gods — Zeus (John Wick: Chapter 4‘s Lance Reddick), Hades (Jay Duplass), and Poseidon — and that his powerful lineage has made him nan No. 1 fishy successful nan caller theft of Zeus’ “master bolt.” In bid to forestall an all-out warfare betwixt nan gods and prevention nan world, Percy is forced to spell connected a quest pinch Grover and Annabeth to retrieve Zeus’ bolt, which is believed to person secretly been stolen by nary different than Hades himself.

Grover, Annabeth, and Percy guidelines successful nan woods together successful Percy Jackson and nan Olympians.David Bukach / Disney+

It isn’t until Percy Jackson and nan Olympians’ 3rd section that its hero’s cardinal quest begins. It besides marks nan infinitesimal erstwhile nan bid originates to consciousness progressively propulsive and cohesive. Its first 2 installments are weighed down by nan sizeable number of exposition dumps that nan creators are forced to fresh in, which effect their pacing and forestall them from establishing a accordant consciousness of guardant momentum. The series’ initially uneven gait is alleviated a spot by nan immersive value of its live-action type of Camp Half-Blood, which feels for illustration it was ripped consecutive from nan pages of Riordan’s The Lightning Thief, and nan scene-stealing performances fixed by its supporting formed members. Kull, Simhadri, and Bushnell each guidelines retired successful their respective parts, arsenic does Jason Mantzoukas, who plays Dionysus, nan Greek deity of vino and stern head of Camp Half-Blood.

Once Percy, Grover, and Annabeth person really deed nan road, Percy Jackson quickly originates to prime up, too. The series’ 3rd installment, which sees nan trio travel up against Medusa (Jessica Parker Kennedy) successful an brushwood that is acold scarier and much aggravated than its book counterpart, is simply a conflict-filled, patiently paced communicative detour. The relationships betwixt Scobell’s Percy, Simhadri’s Grover, and Jeffries’ Annabeth are established and tested passim nan episode, and Scobell, successful particular, shines. The much progressive Percy is allowed to be, nan much comfortable Scobell seems to beryllium successful nan role, which is partially why nan series’ 3rd and 4th installments are easy nan champion of its first four. They’re marred a spot by nan aforesaid inconsistent VFX arsenic nan remainder of Percy Jackson’s episodes, but they negociate to harvester action and on-the-move characteristic improvement amended than nan show’s opening chapters.

Percy Jackson holds Riptide successful Percy Jackson and nan Olympians.David Bukach / Disney+

The explosive conclusion of nan series’ 4th section suggests that Percy Jackson and nan Olympians’ first play is only going to proceed to amended successful its backmost half. That should travel arsenic invited news to each nan readers retired location who person been waiting astir 20 years for a faithful, entertaining adjustment of Riordan’s original books. The Disney+ bid isn’t a location tally smash deed per se, and nan deficiency of first chemistry betwixt Scobell’s Percy and Jeffries’ Annabeth could beryllium origin for interest further down nan line.

To opportunity that Percy Jackson gets disconnected connected nan correct foot, though, would beryllium an understatement. The bid afloat embraces nan teen tone of its root worldly and emerges amended for it, delivering an adjustment that has been a agelong clip coming and yet still feels miraculous.

The first 2 episodes of Percy Jackson and nan Olympians premiere Wednesday, December 20 connected Disney+. New episodes debut play connected Wednesdays. Digital Trends was fixed early entree to nan series’ first 4 episodes.

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