Calling all Demigods. We have gotten a gift from the
gods Rick Riordan and Disney– a Percy Jackson adaptation worthy of the beloved book series. Percy Jackson and The Olympians is as thrilling and exciting as the novels that hook you right from the very first second.
Percy Jackson and The Olympians TV Review
Life isn't easy when you're born a demigod. Just ask Percy Jackson (Walker Scobell), a 12 year old who has just learned he has a godly parent. His feelings of never fitting in all make sense now. But if that wasn't earth-shattering enough, his world is soon driven into more chaos as he loses his mother Sally (Virginia Kull) to a Minotaur attack before finding safety at Camp Half-Blood. Just as he is settling in with his new demigod campmates, Percy is chosen to take on a dangerous quest. Zeus' (Lance Reddick) master bolt has been stolen and it's up to Percy and his friends Annabeth (Leah Jeffries) and Grover (Aryan Simhadri) to get it back. The trio must journey across America outrunning monsters like the Fury named Mrs. Dodds (Megan Mullally) as well as avoiding making any gods angry. Or in Ares' (Adam Copeland) case trying not to make him angrier. Percy’s journey will lead him to discover his true self and set him on a path to being the hero he is destined to become.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians has long been a favorite amongst readers of all ages. Previous adaptations fell short when it came to taking the brilliance of author Rick Riordan's writing and putting it on the screen. Thankfully, after years of waiting, Disney's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is a win for fans and newcomers alike. It is thrilling, exciting, and completely hooks its audience from the very first lines spoken by Percy. Yes, Scobell opens the show narrating just like Chapter 1 of The Lightning Thief. From there it just keeps getting better. A positive side-effect of having Riordan and his wife Becky involved. Everything from the details and the monsters to our favorite trio of best friends, it just all feels right. Plainly put–we won.
When it comes to an ensemble show the cast chemistry needs to be incredible or things grow stale fairly quickly. Fortunately the casting gods were with this series because Scobell, Jeffries, and Simhadri are phenomenal together. Their varying personalities mesh well with one another and also allow them to be equally interesting whether they are on their own or working within the group. Scobell sells Percy's skepticism about the whole being a demigod thing while also showing his vulnerable and determined sides as well. Simhadri radiates sincerity and best friend warmth as he takes his job as protector seriously. Jeffries gives off pure Annabeth vibes with her subtle facial expressions and matter-of-factness. They are age-appropriate to their characters (unlike the film) which makes their feelings about their parents, their world, and this quest understandable. I don't know a 12 year old who wouldn't be hesitant about taking on a goddess or demon. Or one that wouldn't be mad that their absentee parent suddenly requires them to do something for them.
Guiding or hindering them on their journey is an adult cast brimming with godly talent. There is Jason Mantzoukas as the petty, sneaky, but secretly caring god of wine Dionysus, Glynn Turman the fatherly mentor Chiron who helps guide Percy with a twinkle in his eye, Lin-Manuel Miranda as the messenger god Hermes, and the late Lance Reddick as the king of the gods himself, Zeus. Other adults fill in each episode as the cameo monster or god, including Mullally's tight-lipped Fury and Jessica Parker Kennedy's alluring Medusa. From what we have seen with the first four episodes, they are enjoying every minute of playing in this fantasy world sandbox.
A pitch-perfect adaptation of the best-selling series, this Percy embodies what made the books special to begin with: the power of friendship and that being born different isn't a bad thing. Sure there are kids with pretty amazing abilities and gods roaming the earth, some in flip flops, but the heart of the story has always been character driven. The show recognizes this and allows time for character development to occur. The motives behind the taking on the quest and risks Percy and his friends take would have very little impact if there wasn't care taken to grow the audience's bond with them. Seeing the mythological creatures come to life and watching Percy pull out Riptide is certainly thrilling but I'm thankful that is not all this series has going for it. The writing and the chemistry of its leads are equally enthralling.
Riordan being on the creative team, who shares writing credits with Jonathan E. Steinberg, makes this version of Percy feel right at home in its new medium. Pacing varies from the books at times but never in a way that feels like the story was cheapened or butchered to fit a runtime. Each episode (the first four of which were provided for review) harken back to the structure of The Lightning Thief, where each chapter was meant to feel standalone (ideal for bedtime stories) while still connecting back to the overarching plot. The show maintains that format and to fans' absolute delight, the names associated with the chapters like “I Accidentally Vaporize My Pre-algebra Teacher” and “I Become Supreme Lord of the Bathroom.”
Whether you have been wearing a homemade orange Camp Half-Blood shirt since you were kid, love Greek Mythology, or enjoy fantasy adventures, Percy Jackson and the Olympians has something for everyone. Loaded with heart, thrills, and a whole lot of fun, For book fans, this Percy Jackson adaptation is what we have been wanting all these years. For newcomers, welcome to Camp Half-Blood, we know you're going to love it.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians will have a 2-episode premiere on Disney+ December 20 followed by weekly releases.