Movie Magic Monday: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

I broke one of my cardinal rules with the new Percy Jackson movie—namely: I didn’t finish the book before watching the film.  As it turned out, though, that was kind of okay, because I’d read enough to know that the movie was not remotely like the book.  Oh the beginning is the same, and (I’m presuming) the ending is probably not all that far off, and there’s an echo or two of major scenes… but  that’s about it.  The film swerves off-path of the book early on—in vital, plot-moving ways.

I have to confess, I was a little disappointed.  After all, the advertising campaign told you as many times as they could that this movie was from the same man who’d given us Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.  Personally, I would have thought that someone who’d ever been involved with the Potter franchise would realize how much fans appreciate when a film is as faithful to a book as it can manage—but Chris Columbus did not follow through here. Now, I don’t really blame him with messing with the plot a little bit.  The fact is, Percy and his friends have run into more monsters in the first half of the book that I’ve read than in the whole movie, so understandably budget and time had to be considered in which parts to keep in and which to leave out.  The problem I had was that even the characters were fiddled with a little too much for my opinion.

Let’s ignore the fact that Percy and Annabeth are supposed to be about twelve in the first novel (and that girl in the movie is far from twelve years old), but all three characters were made to be… I guess you could simply say “cooler” than they are in the books.  All their endearing foibles in the books have been overlooked entirely and glamorized in the true Hollywood style.  Annabeth has over-inflated mommy-issues that don’t appear in the book at all, and is too confident overall for kids to have much of a connection with her.  Grover the satyr is the cool, funny guy, instead of what he is in the book—a nervous wreck who has trouble getting things right when put under pressure.  Percy is… well, a lot angrier than he is in the book, and he’s given a lot of shining moments in the movie that didn’t belong to him in the book—while having a lot of his cooler accomplishments in the book taken away from him.

Basically, I don’t know what Columbus was trying to do with this film.  Why take an already best-selling book series and flatten it out into a mass-market-appeal cliché?  I’m sorry that Columbus made such a point of his Harry Potter credits in the advertising for this film, because why ring a bell for something that you did really well, in the name of something that came off (at least to the novel-readers… even the in-progress ones) as being halfway-done.  In my opinion, the most enjoyable thing about this film was the actors chosen to portray the Greek gods – especially Kevin McKidd and Sean Bean.  A little bit of eye-candy and earnest acting in a sadly over-Hollywoodized film.

I have to give it a C+.

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About Lisa Asanuma

Lisa is a professional freelance writer and editor, along with a bookbinder and knitting obsessee. Lisa has a passion for YA literature (inside her passion for literature in general) and is currently working on her first novel. View all posts by Lisa Asanuma

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