Feb. 12th, 2010

brenantrim: Yasaka Shrine Japan 2017 (lex)
What a week for eye candy in (un)expected places.  Watched Smallville for the first time since Lex left, to see Michael Shanks as Hawkman - did a credible job with a sad script, and was worth sitting through the convoluted plot and less-than-stellar dialog.  He brought pain and anger in by the truckload, and got a little crushed on by Green Arrow and Clark, so worth the watch.  But then more eye candy came - Paul Blackthorne showed up as the shadowy bad guy on Leverage (and will be back next week to finish the finale) - good to see ol' Dresden again, even if it wasn't much screen time.  The fact he was playing opposite Al Molina (Doc Oc in Spidey 3, and a bajillion other roles) made it meaty as well as pretty.  Then a double helping of sweet - Dylan Neal (Mike Celluci in Blood Ties, plus a hundred other roles, including a Ranger on B5) showed up as the bad cop on Human Target (and got to chew quite a bit of scenery - a good showing!), then again in a surprise (to me) as Hermes in the Percy Jackson movie!  Looking kinda sheepish 'cuz his kid was the lightning thief, not Percy.  Lovely!

Speaking of Percy - I love Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson books.  I've read all five, and they're a splendid mix of ancient Greek mythology, urban myth, adventure story, and coming-of-age with a young hero who actually matures and 'comes into his own' through the five books, an interesting ensemble with strong supporting characters, and plot lines that carry the suspense and humor all the way through (both each book and the series as a whole).  I hope the movie brings in more readers - I know the books brought in viewers, because I went to the first showing this morning, on a weekday, and saw three class groups ranging in age from grade school (boys) to high school (girls), as well as grandmothers with grandkids, single men and women from their twenties into their sixties, and at least one date couple.  At ten thirty in the morning on a Thursday.  Good crowd.  Perhaps more importantly, Chris Columbus did a great job with it, given the drawbacks of any adaptation from a jam-packed novel to a two hour script, and a better one than he did of the first Potter film.

Regarding that - I think the critics wanted Potter version 2, and were pissy because they didn't get it.  Too bad for them.  Having read the Percy Jackson book series, the Harry Potter book series, and the Twilight series, I can confidently say the Percy Jackson series is the best of the bunch.  In Twilight, Bella never matured past the emotional age of thirteen, and there wasn't much in the way of universe-building.  In the Potter books, there was a fascinating universe built, but Harry actually regressed in the last two books, and never fulfilled any great potential - when the lesson he learned was to be willing to commit suicide, I can't really count that as great character development.  Also, Rowling lost the plot in the last two books - perhaps three - as some characters were so outre (Umbridge, the Carrows) that I couldn't suspend my disbelief enough to accept them, and read despite their presence in the stories (not to mention the camping trip that gave me flashes of a second-rate Tolkien having his fellowship wander for years so he could describe the landscape).  By the time I finished the Potter series I felt relief, and honestly finished the last one more for completist determination than literary desire.

In contrast, the Percy Jackson books are strong from start to finish.  Each book has a self-contained quest, in essence, and the series has an over-arching quest.  Percy himself is likable, a hero despite himself, modest, brave, and protective.  Grover grows the most of any character in the series, fitting for a sidekick as unique as he.  Annabeth has her own journey and I rooted for her all the way, too.  Nico and Bianca were heartbreaking and hopeful without ever being sappy.  Sally reminded me of my own Mom, and that's a good thing.  The gods were drawn very much the way they were in Greek mythology, with all their faults as imposing as they were.  The entire pantheon were brought into the picture, along with the Titans, various monsters and creatures, and all seamlessly, and with purpose.  All whilst keeping a flow of action across the United States and into Olympus.  I would recommend these books to anyone.

The movie did an excellent job of getting the high points across without sacrificing the characters or the quest.  Some of the details were different (like how Percy found out who his father was, or how the battle of the flag ended, etc) but were necessary for the script to flow.  It still set out everything it needed to begin a series, bring in neophytes and satisfy fans of the books.  One warning - EXTRA SCENE during the credits - stick around for it.  It plays out differently than in the book, but it was perfect for the movie.  Great stuff!

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