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I finally went to see the Percy Jackson movie with my roomies, on February 14. It was so-so... I'm not very happy about it. But then that's because I read the book.

(Spoiler warning!)
Dear Mr. Columbus, when invited to play in another universe, please do not alter its basic premises to fit your own version, kthx.

Basically, the Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief movie was a letdown in many ways. I suppose that, having seen and enjoyed the first Harry Potter movies, I expected something that would have at least retained the flavor and general gist of the material although some parts would have been changed to allow for time constraints. The first Percy Jackson book isn't even 300 pages long, for Chrissakes.

The movie left out a lot of the important parts... and important people. I guess this means we won't be seeing any more Percy Jackson movies after this, unless they remake the first one and do it right this time around. Where's Clarisse? Where's Kronos? Where's Silena? Where's Mr. D? Where's Ares? Where are the pegasi? Where's Thalia's tree? Where's the Thalia-Luke-Annabeth backstory? Why has Hades metamorphosed into a bullying wife-beater (not a good introduction for Bianca and Nico's dad!)? Where is the nectar and ambrosia? The bead necklaces? The tradition of offering part of every meal to the gods? The Iris-messages (I love those)? Where's the goddamned Oracle of Delphi, for crying out loud?

For one thing, in the book, Grover "discovered" Percy and asked Mr. Brunner, er, Chiron, to check him out because he felt Percy was a strong demigod. He didn't know whose son Percy was, however... Percy was "claimed" by Poseidon later in the story, in one of my favorite scenes. Percy and Luke were actually friends at first, more so Luke and Annabeth, which made Luke's betrayal all the more painful for them later on.

For another thing, in the book there was no ban on the parent gods contacting their kids... Mr. D even had Castor and Pollux around him. The ban was on the "big three" having children because one of them could tip the balance and fulfill the prophecy by the freakin' oracle. Which made Percy's position all the more precarious when it was found out whose son he was.

For still another thing, no camper goes out of Camp Half-Blood in the summer without a quest. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover did not sneak out of camp in the book... they consulted the Oracle and went on a camp-sanctioned quest using camp supplies. Percy did not need to look for the pearls, or for the entrance to the Underworld... a sea-nymph gave him the pearls as aid from his father, and he already knew the Underworld was in LA. They only traveled by land in the book because Percy, as Poseidon's duly-recognized son, was not safe in the sky which was Zeus' domain. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover in the book did not go to the Parthenon, but to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, where Percy almost got eaten by Echidna and the Chimera.

For another thing, in the book, the reason Hades got fixated on Percy in the first place was because he thought Percy also stole his helm of darkness, not because he wanted his brother's lightning bolt. He didn't want war. Once he got his helm back, he was very reasonable, as long as Percy remembered to ask him to swear by the Styx each time he made a promise.

For still another thing, Charon was a security guard who went with the three in the elevator which later morphed into a barge. For that matter, where's Cerberus? Hades is never complete without Cerberus... the Elysian Fields, asphodel, Tartarus, the Isles of the Blest. And where's Hades' creepy robes, the ones that made Percy wonder what horrible things people had done in their lives to get them woven into Hades' underwear when they died?

For one last thing, Percy went to Olympus alone the first time. There were no other gods in the throne room but Zeus and Poseidon to hear what had really happened. Luke did not show his hand until the very end, when Percy had returned to camp, and that was when Percy realized the full extent of the grip Kronos had on him.

Also, where's the significance of Anaklusmos, or Riptide, Percy's sword that always returned to his pocket in pen form so that he could never lose it? Where's Annabeth's invisible cap? Where's Luke's Backbiter that could kill both monsters and humans?

I got the impression of a hastily cobbled together film, one that put more emphasis on the special effects than on the story that started everything in the first place. It doesn't have the charm and wit that the original story had, even though parts of it did elicit spontaneous laughter inside the cinema. I didn't feel much sympathy for the characters; they were like tools who were there to carry the story along.

As for that, Percy has gone from being 12 years old to being 16, although Logan Lerman does look the part. Annabeth has gone from being a blonde and gray-eyed California girl (hello, guys, Athena is by tradition gray-eyed) to being a blue-eyed Bella Swan, although I would agree that having seen her in action, she does do a convincing warrior princess. Grover is okay, too, although the stereotypical hip-hop guy... well.

All those things aside, the special effects are good. The River Styx has got to be my favorite part of the whole thing, although it seems more like the Christian concept of hell rather than the Hellenic. Which rather makes me think that maybe the people who made this thing do not give a damn about Greek mythology /glares/. There is a rather Harry-Potter-y ambiance, but the magic that characterized the first HP films is sorely missing in the Percy Jackson movie. There is no feeling of being in a magical world at all. It looks... contrived.

In all, those who watch the movie after having read the book will be sorely disappointed; those who watched the movie and later read the book will also be sorely disappointed. Those who watch the movie alone might not care either way.

Dear Mr. Columbus, I don't want a Part Two. Please just remake this film, properly.


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2 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Hi Laya! We have the same reaction. So-so. Like I told those who aren't fans of the book, you'd like it if you didn't read the book. :( It's too bad because Percy Jackson is such an amazing series.

    My favorite scene is the claiming of Percy as Poseidon's son too! I was expecting a lot of that from the movie. I was so disappointed to see that they had a different interpretation. Moreover, I expected the cabin to be very beautiful with shells and all. It looked like a fisherman's house. ;;

    Thanks for the great review! ^_^

  2. Laya Says:

    @mienai_hoshi: Thanks for the comment! Yes, I had actually been looking forward to that part where the trident appears over his head. Then they went and changed the whole damned premise! And the Poseidon cabin was supposed to be stone or something, not look like a seaside restaurant in the Philippines. It looked like Dampa, for goodness sake, LOL.

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