Sunday, February 14, 2010

[Movie Review] Percy Jackson and the Olympians - The Lightning Thief

I had enjoyed the first book of the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. Naturally, the movie was something I would look forward to. I was supposed to be watching it with some of my college friends on its showing date, but I wasn't sure if our plans would push through. It did, but I didn't know. So I only managed to watch it after making my mother accompany me the following day.

The movie turned out to be . . . quite a disappointment.

STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
DIRECTOR: Chris Columbus
STARRING: Logan Lerman, Pierce Brosnan, Uma Thurman, Sean Bean, Catherine Keener, Rosario Dawson, Steve Coogan, Kevin McKidd
It's the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus and assorted monsters have walked out of the pages of high school student Percy Jackson's Greek mythology texts and into his life. And they're not happy: Zeus' lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect. Even more troubling is the sudden disappearance of Percy's mother. As Percy adapts to his newly discovered status as a demi-god (his father is Poseidon), he finds himself caught between the battling titans of Mt. Olympus. He and his friends embark on a cross-country adventure to catch the true lightning thief, save Percy's mom, and unravel a mystery more powerful than the gods themselves.
It didn't meet my expectations. Okay, let me make this clear: I'm not the "book-versions-are-always-better-than-movie-adaptations" type of person; but in this case, the book was a hell lot better, story-wise.

I don't mind if the movie writers don't include some events from the book, or if they add or change things that happened. I find it necessary because books are movies are really very different materials. But to ruin the story is just . . . unforgivable.

The movie's story overall has become your typical fantasy adventure story with the overused cliches and stereotypes . . . not to mention the plotholes and some events that are just there to waste screentime. Let me specify several of my complains:
  • Why do they love to encourage the youth to break the rules? Yes, Harry Potter does that; but please don't force to include that on Percy's story as well. What is so difficult in making Percy be placed on a quest/mission instead (like what was done in the book)? His reason on wanting to go to the Underworld in the movie was hell pathetic compare to the actual reason he had in the original material.
  • What's with the adventure of collecting pearls to go to a certain location? It was more dangerous and interesting on how things went in the original material: They were on the run and Percy was a wanted criminal. Doing the mission had been more challenging, since they also have to go through the traps and fight monsters along the way.
  • I can understand if they want to make Percy so perfect for having the main character position but that scene . . . oh come on. The part wherein they have to bribe Charon to take them to the Underworld . . . how come Grover was the one who mistakes that mortal money would work on the guy while Percy had the drachma idea? Grover was the one who should know better since Percy is just new to this type of world. Yes, making it Grover to be mistaken is funnier, but if it doesn't match his character background is just so wrong.
  • I don't mind if the characters in the movie are different from what I've imagined they'll be . . . but drastic character changes just ain't goof. How come I don't feel Chiron and Annabeth as intelligent individuals? (Or maybe it's just me) Yes, Percy does the thinking at times, but not all the times. And with Percy, why wasn't he as hilarious as in the book (Or maybe he made me laugh more of because of his narration)? Is there difficulty to make the main character as funny as the comic relief sidekick??? And Poseidon . . . he doesn't act like one of the main gods . . . and the humanity thing added in his character just makes me think that the movie just wants to exaggerate the family drama. *facepalm*
  • Oh please, the mastermind in this movie is so "threatening". It's honestly so vague for a mere character to be such a big threat in the story. In the book he was actually caught, but he had a powerful boss. That's a more convincing villain.
  • How things ended in the movie had been too easy. Things worked out way too simply. The one who had given proof in the original material was from one of the higher gods . . . that is something I find more acceptable for Zeus to see as more convincing than the one from the words of a mere demigod.
  • Zeus' lightning bolt was mentioned as the strongest weapon ever, right? But there was no mention in the movie that how a powerful weapon had been easily stolen by a mere individual from a powerful god (the book gave such. It was simple, but makes sense). Moreover, if it is indeed the most powerful weapon, then the one who's using it should be invincible and its destrutove force is really great (the book mentioned that it's more destructive than an atomic/nuclear bomb), right? But well, Percy and his opponent both had used it in the movie, and it was just like a normal shotgun or something. Most powerful weapon indeed.

Oh there's a lot more to tell, but basically my point is, many of the characterizations seemed so wrong, and the story changes ruined the brilliance of the story in the original material. If the movie writers couldn't come up with something better, they should have just sticked to the book's main plot. I don't see how difficult it would have been . . . Harry Potter had managed that, why can't this one? The main plot was already so good, so why the stupid change?

With how the story went, it doesn't seem like we could be getting a sequel (mastermind revealed, most mysteries "explained", what else to look forward to?). But if there ever will be and the writers will be doing the same horrible job on it, I'd rather not want to have the sequel created. My dreams of seeing the third book (my favorite one) have now shattered.

On the bright side, if you're just after the visuals; I say it was really awesome! The special effects were really cool and the fight scene was awesome. I think they're the scenes really worth watching in the movie. They had been so fantastic!

And despite my complains on many of the story/character changes, I did like some changes. Persephone made an appearance in the movie, and she was a pretty fun character. Grover was the one I had been most proud of. In the book, I see him as useless and pretty lame. I only see him as useful for a couple of times and I only find him excellent when it comes to reading emotions. But other than that, he sucked. But the Grover in the movie was different. He was COOL and HILARIOUS. He's the comic relief sidekick and he did a good job on that in the movie. In other words, I find Grover much mroe likable in the movie.

Another awesome part in the movie is the one with Medusa. I'm not being biased on Uma Thurman . . . but she's really done a good job as Medusa. It had been really fun to watch. And haha, and the comedy scenes that involve her head had been very amusing~

Overall, the movie could have actually been great if it weren't for the horrible work on the story and the characterizations. I'm not saying I know better than those writers . . . but if how things went in the original material had been so much times better than the movie adaptation, then I see the movie adaptation as a FAILURE. I don't recommend this movie if you're after the story, because it's something too typical. Not much is new from it. If I hadn't read the book, I would've labeled it as a "Desperate Harry Potter Wannabe". But since I know that it hasn't been like that in the original material, than I'm not doing so. However, if you're just after the cool visuals and you ahve time to waste, this movie is certainly something enjoyable to watch.

C- (SO-SO! Very average and typical whatever!)
The story and characterizations were horrible and disappointing but the other stuff ain't so bad. It just became an average movie though.
3 Hearts ---> LIKE
Despite my disappointments, I had enjoyed it. And perhaps my love for the original material had avoided me to completely dislike the movie.


  1. I agree, the movie completely turned around the plot of the book. The thing that annoyed me the most though was that they took out some of my favorite characters and scenes like Dionysus and when Percy fought Ares. Oh well, at least there is a second sequel series to be looking forward too.

  2. @ Nemo
    I am sad that the fight with Ares wasn't included as well. It was one of the cool parts. I hope that was included instead of the others =(

    EH? There's a sequel of the movie? It didn't become that popular... so I kinda doubt....