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Home > Percy Jackson and The Olympians (2023): A Review

Percy Jackson and The Olympians (2023): A Review

Episodes 1 to 3: The First Steps of the Journey.

The first three episodes of the book-to-series adaptation of Percy Jackson and The Olympians have finally reached Disney+. It’s time to go on a hero’s quest with Percy, Grover, and Annabeth as audiences see how their stories unfold.

The show began development in May 2020, and the first episode was released on December 20, 2023. It is created by Rick Riordan, the author of the original book series, and Jonathan E. Steinberg. The story follows Percy Jackson, played by Walker Scobell, who discovers he is a demigod, specifically the son of Poseidon. His life takes a drastic turn as he ends up at Camp Half-Blood, a sanctuary for the demigods of the world, where they train and learn to use their abilities. Percy’s life takes another major shift when he is accused by the Greek god Zeus of stealing his thunderbolt. He then has to embark on a hero’s quest with Annabeth Chase, daughter of Athena, played by Leah Sava Jeffries, and Grover Underwood, a satyr, played by Aryan Simhadri. Naturally, no hero’s journey is easy, and the three must learn to work together and get through the obstacles they encounter to find the bolt and restore peace.

The first season consists of eight episodes, three of which are currently airing. 

The Journey 

The first three episodes were very well made and perfectly set the atmosphere of the series. The tone is well-established and maintained throughout what has already been released, which makes it very promising for the next few episodes. The plot, as explained above, is fairly simple. It’s the basic combination of the Chosen One and Trio Friendship tropes, but it still works really well, especially since it plays on the nostalgia factor of the book series. Everything is coherent, and the world is well-established for viewers from the very start. There is the perfect amount of confusion within the plot that perfectly emulates Percy’s confusion as he learns about the world around him. 

The only issue with the first three episodes would be the pacing. It’s action-packed, which keeps up the entertainment value, but the show could benefit from more character-building at the start to make certain moments more impactful. When Percy gets to camp, he is immediately thrown into going on a quest. It is slightly difficult to get to know the other kids around him and fully experience the camp itself. Overall, the world is immersive, and the story being set up is intriguing. It’s a fun spin on Greek mythology that many know and are fascinated by, but if the pacing were slightly slower and built more tension, it would have been a stronger start to the show. 

The Heroes

If any cast perfectly encapsulates the energy of each character, it’s this one. The gods on Olympus came together to make the best cast for the show. The three main actors have great chemistry with each other, and each brings their characters to life in a captivating way. Walker Scobell plays the titular character, Percy Jackson. Right from the start, Scobell has proven his skill as an actor by having to demonstrate a range of emotions within the first and second episodes. The emotional scenes land well, but he is also capable of delivering sassy and funny lines when needed. He lives up to the nickname “Persassy” that was given to the character in the book series.

Next among the trio is Aryan Simhadri, who plays Grover Underwood. He’s Percy’s best friend and protector. His character is the heart and soul of the trio, and Simhadri’s portrayal of the Satyr demonstrates this perfectly. His character already comes across as complex, and viewers can see the arc being set up for Grover as he learns to be more confident in himself. The chemistry between Scobell and Simhadri is as present as ever. They do feel like best friends, such as Percy and Grover, making the connection that much better to watch unfold on screen. The moments of betrayal and hurt are just as impactful as the humorous moments between the two.

Image courtesy of Walt Disney Studios. From left to right: Aryan Simhadri as Grover Underwood, Leah Jefferies as Annabeth Chase, and Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson.

The third and final member of the trio is the strategic daughter of Athena, Annabeth Chase, whom Leah Jeffries plays. Annabeth is the brains of the group, and even though she is not as present as the first two actors at the start, Jeffries’ portrayal of Annabeth makes an impact and establishes her character well in the universe being built. Jeffries does a great job bringing the strong character to life. We see Annabeth for the strategic war planner that she is, and despite her clashing with Percy at the start, we see her warm up to him by the end of episode three. Again, adding Jeffries to the mix alongside Scobell and Simhadri only makes the acting on screen stronger. All three play off each other incredibly well in each scene, which could be due to the great dialogue but is also attributed to the great skill of the young actors.

Some other great performances that deserve recognition are by Virginia Kull, who plays Sally Jackson, Percy’s mother. Despite having a limited amount of time on screen, she perfectly portrays a mother’s love and displays the character’s selflessness. Two more standout performances are by Charlie Bushnell as Luke Castellan and Dior Goodjohn as Clarisse La Rue, two residents of Camp Half-Blood. Bushnell’s character helps viewers acclimate to the new world as he helps Percy understand his new life, while Goodjohn’s character brings a little bit of trouble to the hero as he adjusts to his new surroundings. In the grand scheme of the show, the performances are promising, as each character feels fleshed out and seems to work really well together. 

Stylistic Features   

Right off the bat, the show did a great job of establishing the atmosphere of the world that viewers and Percy are about to dive into. The set design makes Camp Half-Blood feel like a real place, ready for everyone to explore, despite being there for an episode and a half at the start. The CGI, along with the set design, helps bring the mythological world to life. Nothing feels strange to watch on screen (except maybe the Furies) and only helps to immerse viewers into the new world. The creatures shown so far, such as the Minotaur and Medusa, were very well put together. It does not feel cheap or unrealistic; instead, it feels threatening and scary. The visuals were very well made and impressive to watch on screen.

Speaking of visuals, the cinematography and lighting in the show are stunning. There are some great shots establishing each location, specifically the tracking shot when introducing Camp Half-Blood. Another noticeable feature of the camera work is this “warped” look. The camera constantly leaves the background blurred and moves from a deep-focus shot to a shallow-focused one. This stylistic feature makes sense as it causes visual confusion, which correlates to Percy acclimating to his new life. It’s a great and subtle thing to add, further showing the care going into the show. There are also a lot of great moments with lighting, such as many scenes in the woods, mainly one where Percy is sitting at night with a single candle or the scene in Medusa’s layer, which is very ominously lit. The lighting makes the atmosphere of the show ten times better. The show does a great job of building a new mythical world that lies atop one that viewers are so familiar with. It is the perfect blend of fascination and familiarity. 

Final Rating 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a show worth watching. Despite only having three episodes out right now and being geared towards kids, it’s still an impressive project to watch unfold. The dialogue and acting are great and believable. There is a healthy balance of humor and drama as the new world unfolds before viewers. Each character brings something unique to the plot, and the performances are strong. It’s also visually pleasing to watch. The creatures, locations, and simple scene set-ups will have you hooked on the screen. At the end of the day, it’s a fantasy watch that does the job well and brings a new world to life that you are able to immerse yourself in and enjoy.

Image courtesy of Teen Vogue. Walker Scobell as Percy Jackson.

Percy Jackson and The Olympians (2023) Official Walt Disney Studios trailer

Source: Dead Talk Live

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Author at Dead Talk News

Yasmine, a talented intern in TV and film writing, possesses a deep-seated passion for storytelling. She is pursuing her degree in Cinema and Media studies and Creative Writing with a clear objective of becoming a screenwriter. Her primary creative outlets include film, reading, and writing, and she holds Little Women as her favorite movie.

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I am an aspiring author living and working out of Honolulu, Hawaii. I received my bachelor's degree in Art History at Westmont College and then pursued a master's in Museum Studies at the University of Hawaii. I am currently working on a few novels, and am thankful for the opportunity to expand my creative writing voice at Dead Talk Live.