Percy Jackson & The Olympians (2023) Review: TV Worthy of the Gods

Percy Jackson & The Olympians (2023) Review: TV Worthy of the Gods
Featured Video

Like its title character, Percy Jackson & The Olympians has gone through quite the epic journey to get to where it is now. While the original books became massive hits almost immediately, garnering critical acclaim and spawning multiple sagas of adjacent spin-offs, the first attempt at a live-action adaptation in the 2010 film version of The Lightning Thief proved less successful. And its 2013 sequel, Sea of Monsters, somehow fared even worse.

Advertisement

Both films suffered from a lack of planning, poorly structured stories, and a lack of attention and care when it came to adapting the source material. And they did so poorly at the box office that it took another decade for a new adaptation to get off the ground. But now, it’s finally here. Age appropriate cast, a dedication to adapting each book into a full season, starting with The Lightning Thief for this first one, and original author Rick Riordan taking a lead role on the writing team and keeping a watchful eye on the entire creative process.

But did it work? After all this time, two prior failed attempts, and a third shift in medium from book to movie to TV show, has the epic story of the Percy Jackson books finally been given the adaptation it deserves? As far as I’m concerned, yes. However, please bear in mind that this review only pertains to the first two episodes, as that was what was made available to me at time of writing.

Advertisement

Also Read: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: 5 Failed Franchises That Deserve a Second Chance at Revival

Percy Jackson & The Olympians Plot

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS - "Episode 102” (Disney/David Bukach) WALKER SCOBELL
Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson in Percy Jackson & The Olympians

Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson, played by Walker Scobell, is the textbook example of a troubled kid. He struggles in class thanks to ADHD and dyslexia, has no friends outside of kindred spirit Grover, played by Aryan Simhadri, and is relentlessly bullied by the other kids at his boarding school. He also constantly seems to see things that no one else does, and remembers people that others claim never existed.

After Percy is kicked out of school yet again, his mother takes him to their family cabin in Montauk where she reveals the shocking truth. His struggles and bizarre visions are actually the result of his heritage as a demigod. While his mother is human, his father is a legendary Greek God; the pantheon having existed in secret thanks to a magical veil known as The Mist. Even his best friend Grover is in on it; secretly being a satyr assigned to bring Percy to a demigod sanctuary called Camp Half-Blood.

Though Percy’s mother is taken by the Minotaur on the way, Percy ends up doing surprisingly well at Camp Half-Blood. He makes new friends, develops new skills, and starts to finally not feel so alone in the world. But after he’s claimed by the sea god Poseidon, he’s roped into a dangerous quest to retrieve Zeus’ stolen Master Bolt from Hades and rescue his mother from the Underworld in the process.

Advertisement

Percy Jackson Critique

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS - "Episode 102” (Disney/David Bukach) WALKER SCOBELL
Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson in Percy Jackson & The Olympians

The highest compliment I can give to Percy Jackson : The Show is that it felt like reading Percy Jackson: The Books for the first time all over again. The set design, the monsters, the character interactions, even dialogue feels and sometimes is ripped straight out of the original books. Even the episode titles share names with chapters from the books. Without a doubt, longtime fans will feel right at home.

But newcomers are just as welcome at the gates of Camp Half-Blood. The show thankfully doesn’t rely on pre-existing knowledge of the books and works to establish strong characters, relationships, and world building in its own right; bringing the epic scope and sense of wonder seen in the books to an entirely new audience.

The entire cast does an excellent job here, but special mention needs to be given to Walker Scobell as Percy. Delivering this many layers of emotion is a tough job for any actor, let alone a young kid in his first major franchise role, and he nails every single scene he’s in. A genuine star-making turn.

Advertisement

The biggest issues I have come from the material I was given being very much a starting point and not much else. Since this is only the first two episodes, almost all of it is set-up and exposition for what’s coming later. The main quest doesn’t even start until the end of Episode 2 and while the main trio of Percy, Grover, and Annabeth have all been introduced, they have yet to interact. Additionally, for whatever reason, the series is edited with fades to commercial as though it were airing on linear cable instead of streaming, which sometimes makes the pacing feel off.

My only other issue is that it’s difficult to determine impact during action scenes. The action itself is actually rather strong; showcasing creative creature design for the monsters and a surprisingly authentic sense of danger for the demigods. But since they obviously can’t just kill off the demigod main characters and the monsters don’t actually die, they just evaporate, it’s hard to get a sense of how much a particular move actually hurts. Which in turn makes the action scenes just a bit harder to follow than they really should be.

In Conclusion

PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS - Disney's "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" stars Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson, Leah Sava Jeffries as Annabeth, and Aryan Simhadri as Grover. (Disney)
The main trio of Percy Jackson & The Olympians

While I may have nitpicks and it’s difficult to say this early on whether or not any of this will stick the landing, for now, Percy Jackson & The Olympians is a real winner. A worthy adaptation of the beloved book series sure to delight long-time fans and newcomers alike with its compelling characters, strong world-building, and all-around wondrous atmosphere.

Advertisement

The Percy Jackson books are a huge source of childhood nostalgia for me and I’m happy to say this adaptation brings back all those warm fuzzy feelings of furiously reading through the books back in middle school while being a thoroughly entertaining and often powerful story in its own right. If future episodes can keep this quality up, then we will indeed be feasting on the nectar of the gods.

9/10

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for more entertainment coverage. 

Advertisement

Avatar

Written by Callie Hanna

Articles Published: 55

Callie Hanna is an up-and-coming writer, aspiring actor, and full-time nerd. She grew up in a small town in Delaware and was instilled with a love for superheroes, science fiction, and all things geeky from an early age. When she's not catching up with her comically large backlog of movies, games, shows, and comics, Callie can be found working, writing, chatting with friends, or browsing the dying husk of Twitter.