Monday, January 2, 2012

To The Movies: Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief

When a storyline from a book is turned into a movie, the movie becomes its own text. The basic storyline may be the same, but when changes are made in order to fit the movie within a time limit or to highlight an element or theme that the people involved in the movie feels is important—they make the story their own. I will focus these features on movies made based on books I have read—I want to look beyond whether I think the movie is better or worse than the book. I want to appreciate and review the movie as a companion to the book.

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Mystery
Actors: Logan Lerman, Kevin McKidd, Steve Coogan and Alexandra Daddario (she was my favorite part of the movie!)
Director: Chris Columbus
Scriptwriter: Craig Titley
Date DVD Released: June 29, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG
Movie Info: IMDB
Order Online:
Rating: 1 star
Borrowed movie from library.

In A Nutshell:
This movie stripped a lot of the charm of the book--and in its place bastardized the Greek Mythology that made the book so enchanting for me.  The only moment that was worthwhile in the entire movie was the last scene when smelly Gabe opened up the fridge and...well I cannot tell you because if you do decide to sit through this whole movie I do not want to ruin the best part in my review.

I loved how the book re-sparked my interest in Greek mythology--made me want to go back and re-read the stories I had read in school about the Gods, the Goddess, and the Heroes.  In some ways, this movie did the same thing but only because the movie bastardized a lot of the stories I loved.  I have to go back and re-read them to clear out the mis-information of this movie.  For instance, Persephone was in the Underworld just before the Summer Solstice--except that mythology has Persephone with her mother during spring and summer.  That is why they are bright, sunny, and beautiful because her mother is overjoyed to have her beloved daughter by her side.  The movie also sexualized her character (and had her hitting on Grover--but that is another story), when she is presented in mythology as a innocent and naive woman.

I could have accepted many of the differences in the book and the movie, if I had been convinced that the story they created benefited from the changes.  But instead of a plot constructed by a suffering Titan hoping to regain his throne (with thousands and thousands of years to plot) and a god who has a history of causing conflict--we have a plot constructed by a lone teen boy.  Not believable that he would have had the ingenuity and magical talent to put this whole plan into action.  Instead of the young heroes and the protector going on a quest (in line with the mythology), they are runaways.

This fugitive status (and a rule instituted by Zeus that forbid the gods and goddesses from contacting their children) mean that Percy, Annabeth, and Grover had to find the pearls rather than getting them as sign of support from Poseidon.  In fact the entire relationship between Percy and Poseidon seemed different--much more hatred and hostility on Percy's part than I got from the book, and this change did not seem to benefit the story.  It just made it harder to endure.  And I do not remember this rule being prominent in the book since the campers had been at Mount Olympus for the Winter Solstice. 

Overall, I was disappointed with the movie.  I missed the opportunity to see the trap at the tunnel of love that was broadcast to Mount Olympus, the moment where Poseidon claimed Percy in front of the whole camp, and the Oracle and the prophecy that Percy had to decipher throughout the entire quest.  

The character I really loved in the movie was Annabeth--and I realized she was played by Alexandra Daddario.  I knew her from one of my favorite TV shows, so I am going to go watch that instead:


  1. this is a great take on movies/books. My daughter loved this series. I watched the movie but didn't care much for it.

  2. @twimom101 I had been so excited when I got the movie from the library that it was such a crushing blow that I hated it so much! I really felt it missed a lot of the charms of the book--which surprised me since Chris Columbus had been so good at capturing the charms of Harry Potter.