- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Highlighting the best interactive features from the high-definition format.

Greek Mythology 101

Author Rick Riordan’s popular young demigod hero came to live-action life earlier this year with director Chris Columbus’ “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightening Thief.”

Its bolting to Blu-ray (Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Rated: R, $39.99) provides a bountiful supply of extras that should not only attract the home-entertainment audience but give viewers a decent introduction to Greek mythology.

After enjoying the almost-two-hour movie in pristine high definition, fans can check out the on-disc controller-driven extras.

A Discover Your Powers Quiz leads to a few mood questions that finish with a video snippet starring Grover telling the viewer what Greek god he is most like.

Next, “Secrets of the Gods” introduces six deities and some creatures through video entries found by clicking around the Olympus council chamber.

More ambitious humans, armed with a computer with Blu-ray drive or a smart phone, will appreciate the Fox Pop application for one of the best ways to interact with movies.

The stand-alone app from Spot411 acts as an embellished Web browser as it tracks the film and offers not only social-networking capabilities with the big three (Facebook, Twitter and MySpace) but a streaming menu of choices tied to three fun resources.

First, take a look at the headlines and summaries of stories from the tabloid-style rag GMZ (Gods and Monsters Zine). Colorful photography and tempting text nuggets relay such important news as “Demigods fight at the entrance to Olympus,” “Can snake-hair ever be stylish” and “Persephone and Hades: A fiery romance.”

The latter even explains how Persephone got stuck next to the leader of the Underworld for a certain amount of time each year.

Next, the Demigod Training Guide offers plenty of background information for the kids born of the bond between human and god through about 14 entries.

Through encyclopedic nuggets, learn a bit about Olympus and creatures such as hellhounds, Hydras, satyrs, Minotaurs and Furies, including text on their appearance, history and danger and how to fight them effectively.

Finally, try a multiple-choice quiz, called Pearls of Wisdom, that if answered correctly throughout the film leads to a special prize at its conclusion.

Questions such as “Which Olympian god is famous for having a thunderbolt?” and “How many gods and goddesses are there at the council of Olympus?” should keep students riveted

Fans still looking for more about the Percy Jackson legend can tear a sticker off the front of the package and find a code underneath that unlocks a few pages of a motion comic at a Web site (www.percygraphicnovel.com).

Additionally, they can download more information on the film with a broadband-connected Blu-ray player leading to behind-the-scenes clips and access to Internet Movie Database.

Greengrass’ Zone

Matt Damon went from superspy to supersoldier in the thriller “Green Zone.” Now on Blu-ray in a two-disc limited edition (Universal Studios Home Video, Rated R, $39.98), director Paul Greengrass’ effort visually brings the days following the American invasion of Iraq to chaotic, war-torn life but quickly gets bogged down in an annoying mix of fiction meets fact.

Feeling more like a political infomercial than an action-packed blockbuster, the film follows Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller, a soldier looking for the truth about weapons of mass destruction and willing to break every military protocol to get answers.

Those who make it through the movie and don’t immediately run for their copies of “The Bourne Supremacy” and “The Bourne Ultimatum” will find plenty of background on its making through Universal’s U-Control interactivity.

First, an optional commentary track of Mr. Damon and Mr. Greengrass gets incorporated into Universal’s U-Control functionality.

Now, with a side-menu-loaded and remote-control click, viewers can watch both creators slumped back in their seats, watching the film and talking.

I’d say stick with the faceless commentary. The men behind the curtain look pretty bored with the entire situation despite the interesting stuff coming out of their mouths.

Next, and infinitely more interesting, is a U-Control pop-up screen enjoyed during the main feature. It covers the production of the film and some history.

Many real soldiers became actors for the “Green Zone,” and their stories easily are the most interesting parts of the interactive.


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