I’ve been dying to see the Percy Jackson movie, The Lightening Thief. Though I haven’t finished the series yet, I’m a medium sized fan of the series. Riordan is a great writer, the stories are exciting, and the characters are all believable and likable. So, when it was reported that the first movie was in production, I couldn’t help being a really big kid about it. I LOVE seeing books turn into movies. I never expect much – it’s rare that a movie lives up to the book – but I just really like seeing certain scenes from the book played out on the big screen. I like to see how the movie people envisioned the scene – is it similar to what was in my head, or did they have a different take on it?
I finally saw the movie on Wednesday (a lovely friend of mine surprised me with it) and it SUCKED. I mean, basically the only similarities between book and movie was that there was a kid named Percy Jackson and there’s a lot of mythology. I mean, obviously there were more connections than that – they kept a lot of the other characters. But seriously. THEY CHANGED THE WHOLE PLOT! Why, I ask, when the plot was already SO GOOD!?
First, let’s start with the target audience for the book versus the movie and let’s discuss why this change up might explain why the movie isn’t doing that great. Book Percy Jackson is a 12 year old boy, struggling to not get expelled from yet another school. Movie Percy Jackson looks to be about 17, a teenager with teenager problems. It was a movie based on a middle grade novel, but targeted towards teens. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Why would you completely abandon the books core (and large!) audience? Am I missing something here? It just seems to me that if your fan base exists for you before you even begin, then you should probably thank your lucky stars and cater to it. “What? There are 1.2 million YA readers who put this book on the New York Times Bestseller List? OBVIOUSLY we want to make this movie for teenagers!” quote by movie people around a movie table.
I don’t even know how to go into the rest of what bothered me about this movie without weaving a tale that would take a thousand years to tell. Let’s start with the fact that Grover, the satyr assigned to protect Percy is a bit of a horn dog in the movie. WHAT? WHY? (An aside – it is my clear understanding that if you have to ask yourself WHY a zillion times while watching or reading something, it probably should have never even been made.) The sexual references are through the roof. I guess this made Grover ‘cooler’ and more relatable to teen audiences. (See paragraph above.) Even Persephone (disgustingly portrayed by Rosario Dawson) totally digs him – she keeps him in the underworld to be what I can only assume is her sex slave AFTER she shoves her tongue down Hades throat and then knocks him out. ACTION! ADVENTURE! ROMANCE!
The reason Percy is so special in the novel is because he is the son of Poseidon, one of the big three (Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades). At first, Riordan keeps Percy’s parentage a secret from the reader, only giving us tiny clues to help us along until Percy is finally claimed by his dad. When Poseidon claims his son, it’s a really big deal. Zeus decided sometime after World War II that the sons and daughters of the big three were too powerful and the three were therefore banned from siring half blood children. But Poseidon can’t keep it in his pants, basically, (though in the movie they make it like he actually fell in love with Percy’s mom and wanted to be a mortal. WHAT!?) and so Percy is born. In the movie, the rule instead is that the gods are not allowed contact with their children because, I don’t know, they might love them too much or something. I forget because I kept yelling NOT THE RULE! at the screen. To me, this one simple change ruins the entire plot. Luke, the real Lightening Thief and son of Hermes, is this troubled kid who wants to cause a war between the gods. In the book, the gods are free to visit their offspring but often don’t. Ever. I mean, they are busy being gods, you know, and some of them have a ton of kids. But Luke takes his father’s abandonment to heart. Because that’s what it is, when you are free to see your children but choose not to. It’s called abandonment. And it’s sad. In the movie, even though they took away Hermes’ will to decide whether or not he wants to visit his son, Luke is still pissed about it. So instead of this troubled, hurt, and abandoned kid, you just have this whiny brat who doesn’t know the rules. It doesn’t really make sense or have the same sympathizing effect.
There’s more. So much more. Like, why was Ares completely cut out of the plot? Why was there absolutely no mention of the Titans? Why was Persephone and her pearls added to the plot when, as far as I can tell or remember, they have no basis in Greek mythology at all?
Ugh. I chalk this movie up to nothing more or less than an epic FAIL.