My Problems with the “Percy Jackson” Film (Movie Review: The Lightning Thief)

“NO! Stick with the Mick Jagger thing, it works for you!”

 –  Grover, to Greek God Hades

 

I’ll admit it: even though the Percy Jackson book series came out right around the time I was of the age to read them, I didn’t jump on the bandwagon until January 2010, because I’d seen a trailer for the movie and wanted to be well-read beforehand. As it turned out, I was surprised by how much I loved the first book, and ended up reading the entire series within a month or so.

[In semi-related news, the third book in the Heroes of Olympus Series, Mark of Athena, was released today. I’ll share my thoughts on that as soon as I find time to read it.]

Anywho. I saw the movie in February 2010 with a few of my close friends and was expecting to love it…though, after a few film adaptions that have been released since then, I’ve learned to lower my standards. All that being said, I was a bit disappointed with how this was brought to screen.

So, for anyone else who was unhappy with the production of this film, I’ll hopefully cover all of your complaints under my own.

First of all, the most obvious problem: the age of the characters.

Good Lord, this was a train wreck. While Percy’s character looked how I pictured him, he also looked how I pictured him at age twenty, not twelve. This was still forgivable, though, compared to Grover. Granted, in the original novel, Grover is a Satyr who is thirty-six but ages slower physically. The problem is that in the movie, he looks like an actual thirty-six year old. He also drives a truck, something that doesn’t ever happen in the book (though they do steer a bus off the street at one point).

And yet, all of this appearance distortion pales next to the reader-repelling portrayal of Annabeth. No, I’m not criticizing the actress, who did a decent job with the role for a twenty-five year old. But if the producers had spent an extra few dollars on blonde hair dye, I’m confident they would have seen a return value in the box office. Also, if she didn’t look like she could be Percy’s mom, that would be a nice touch, too.

That being said, I have to give credit to the portrayals of Sally (Percy’s actual mom), Gabe, Medusa, Luke, Zeus, Chiron and…wait…where’s everyone else?

That’s the next problem. While the characters I mentioned above were spot-on in terms of how I pictured them, they seemed lonely when you consider the fact that Dionysus, Clarisse and several others were axed from the script.

And, of course, another minor complaint from the masses…the plot.

I thought the movie started promising. The added scene—the one with Zeus and Poseidon talking about how the lightning bolt has been stolen so they’re going to blow up the world—was a nice touch. It was all fine until the group actually left Camp Half-Blood, at which point they went on a quest to find three pearls literally handed to them in the novel.

Also, moviemakers, I understand that adapting a lengthy book to screen is difficult, but you aren’t doing yourselves any favors by adding in entire scenes such as the museum battle. For those of you who have read the book but not watched the movie, you’ll be pleased to know the film cuts out little details like Annabeth’s and Grover’s backstories to make room for a depiction of the group sneaking into a museum and subsequently being attacked by an army of janitors.

That being said…

I want to be fair and hit the high points of this movie. Its attempt to replicate the book’s humor was more-or-less successful, and it had most of the same fun feel to it. As I already said, the plot from the opening to arrival at camp was done nicely. And, as expected, the effects were up to par.

 

So, in conclusion: this movie certainly isn’t the best film adaption in the world (though I can tell you with reasonable confidence it isn’t the worst one, either). But, it manages to clunk its way along without totally butchering the plot, it maintains its adventurous feel, and it sets the scene for its sequel, Sea of Monsters, to be released in August 2013…

Wait…WHAT?

Fingers crossed, moviemakers. Fingers crossed.

Rate: 4 out of 10.

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