Year Released: 2010
Directed by: Chris Columbus
Starring: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan
(PG, 120 min.)
"As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods." William Shakespeare
Take one part National Treasure, throw in a touch of Harry Potter, season with a dash of X-Men, and you have some family friendly fare with more than enough fun to while away its two hour running time. Grounded in Greek mythology, the fantasy is as light as puff pastry, with Poseidon providing the necessary spritzer to wash it down.
It seems Poseidon’s (Kevin McKidd) half mortal son, Percy (Logan Lerman, taking advantage of his Zach Efron like looks), is totally unaware of his demigod status and is having a hard enough time just making it through high school. It doesn’t help that everything he reads is transformed into ancient Greek to his eyes; he just thinks he suffers from dyslexia. About the only moments of peace he gets are at the bottom of the school pool where he goes to think, his latest underwater adventure clocking in at ten minutes.
But things on dry land are heating up quite a bit. Zeus (Sean Bean) is missing his infamous lightning bolt, and the storms are a little anti-climatic without it – all black clouds and angry sky, which is about on par with old Zeus’s temper. He thinks his half mortal nephew, young Percy, has stolen it, and threatens war if Poseidon doesn’t get it back. And to show Percy he means business, Zeus sends a few friendly reminders, one in the form of a homely and shrill substitute teacher who reveals the depth of her ugly soul in a little student teacher conference that is probably a pretty good portrait of the psychology of such meetings.
About this time, another teacher, Mr. Brunner (Pierce Brosnan), an amiable scholar confined to a wheel chair, decides on a course correction. He tells Percy he is indeed the son of Poseidon and for his own safety, he had best high tail it to his special school for demigods hidden in some local woods.
And “high tail it” is a good term, since Mr. Brunner is soon revealed to be Chiron, a centaur, one of those creatures half man and half horse. And don’t ask me how those muscular hindquarters were tucked in the blankets of the wheel chair, or how Mr. Brunner managed to teach high school and instruct a youthful brigade of demigods in the ancient arts of battle simultaneously. Wise cracking high school buddy, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson) – his name should have suggested some hairy connections -- abandons his crutches for the goat-footed satyr that he is. Along the way, Percy battles the Minotaur -- half-man half bull – to a standstill, but somehow loses his mother (Catherine Keener) in the process.
She has been hustled down to Hades, the realm of his uncle of the same name. And this uncle isn’t just an embarrassment at family dinners; he can morph into a fire-breathing dragon on a moments’ notice. And his digs, the Underworld, are no picnic either. Sure, just about anyone can get in, but leaving – that’s another story.
The rest of the film is just your basic teen road trip – Percy, best bud goat boy, and Athena’s hot daughter Annabeth (Alexandria Daddario) off to hell in a hurry with just a few stopovers. Along the way they meet Uma Thurman’s Medusa having ever so much fun even though every day is a bad hair day for her – what can you do with a headful of writhing serpents, each with a mind of its own, adamantly refusing the mousse and threatening to fang the stylist? It’s enough to turn someone to stone if he’s not careful.
One well-chosen diversion is the Lotus Land Hotel is Vegas, where the beautiful cocktail waitresses ply their customers with debilitating freebies, although these are not beverages, but the same addictive flowers that sidetracked Odysseus’ crew on their voyage.
Yes, Vegas may be labeled Sin City, but the real Hades in our film is just underneath the famous hillside sign in Hollywood, appropriately scrawled with some graffiti not unlike Dante’s warning outside his Inferno:
Abandon all hope ye who enter here.
Of course, our young demigods do no such thing. In fact, they seem to be having a sporting good time in spite of everything. Grover, in particular, enjoys himself down under, especially with Hades’ lovely bride Persephone (Rosario Dawson) playing hostess.
Some of the adults, however, don’t seem to be as bubbly. Pierce Brosnan’s centaur is a little the worse for wear, his arms resting somewhat uneasily on his ever so slightly expanded leather girth, his weary eyes possibly remembering the glory days of Goldeneye when Sean Bean was not Zeus to his Chiron, but turncoat agent Alec Trevelyan to his godlike 007. Then he saved the world, drank vodka martinis, and seduced the latest Bond girl. Now, reduced to wiping the noses of a herd of haughty demigods and trotting about with all that lateral baggage, no wonder he seems like he’d rather not be there.
But that’s no reason for you to stay away. The road to perdition has never been as much fun.
As legend has it, Persephone, the beautiful daughter of Demeter was promised to Hades as his bride, but Zeus kept putting off making the announcement, knowing that her mother would not be too pleased with the arrangement. Finally, the impatient Hades took matters into his own hands, seizing the young maiden and hustling her off to his dark kingdom.
Demeter, goddess of agriculture, went on strike and neglected her duties, so that crops withered and died and mankind was threatened with famine. Finally, Zeus said that Persephone could return to her mother if she had not eaten during her stay in the Underworld.
Though she had fasted the entire time, knowing that whoever ate the fare of Hades would become his, upon learning of her imminent release, she absently ate six seeds of the pomegranate that Hades coyly set before her just before her departure.
Thus, because she had eaten them, she had to stay with her husband, but only six months of the year -- a month for each seed. It is during those same six months that Demeter mourns and neglects her duties giving us fall and winter. (One might say she is especially troubled this year.)
In celebration of Persephone and her six pomegranate seeds I have found a delightful cocktail, the Pomegranate Cosmopolitan. Just don’t drink it in the company of any cloven hoofed gentlemen.
Pomegranate Cosmopolitan Cocktail
- 1 cup vodka
- 3/4 cup Pom Wonderful pomegranate juice
- 1/2 cup Cointreau liqueur or triple sec
- 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
- lime, twist for garnish
- pomegranate seeds, for garnish
Combine vodka, pom juice, Cointreau and lime juice in a container.
In small batches, shake mixture with ice in a cocktail shaker; then strain into chilled cocktail glasses.
Garnish with lime twist, and a few fresh pomegranate seeds if desired.
Recipe Source: Recipezaar.com