The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson) – movie review


Of all the book-to-screen adaptation atrocities I have seen – and believe me, there have been quite a few (Inkheart, Eragon, The Dark is Rising…), The Lightening Thief has the dubious distinction of being the failure I’m the most angry about. It’s not that the level of badness it attained was any worse than the aforementioned travesties, it’s because any reasonable approximation of the books, of the truly wonderful story, would have been fantastic to watch on screen. But it seems they didn’t care about the books at all.

Let me qualify my anger in that it doesn’t stem from wishing for a word for word adaptation – that would be impossible, I know. Changes have to be made to get a book on film. I’m fine with that. I don’t hold any ill will towards the Harry Potter franchise, who have had to loose a ton of story out of necessity – but they, at least  have managed to stay faithful to the books (though I still say Alan Rickman was gipped in Harry #6).  I even downright loved Last of the Mohicans, which had some major differences from the book. But with The Lightening Thief, the cause of my fury and what I do not understand is how or why someone would decide to literally destroy the entire overarching story. It’s like they ripped out the spine and then tried to assemble some Frankenstein monstrosity from the leftover bits and pieces. They took out KRONOS. He was the entire point! In one fell swoop they destroyed Luke’s arc, Ares’ arc AND Percy’s arc. Then just for fun they tossed the middle section of the book and exchanged it for a random action scene with a CGI dragon that did absolutely nothing to move the story forward. On top of which they took out everything emotional about Percy’s quest to find his mother – apparently they decided his sacrifice wasn’t important and so proceeded to turn it all into a joke. By the way, this is all MAJOR PLOT architecture they destroyed. If this story was a building they literally bulldozed the foundation and the first three floors. And don’t even get me started on all the smaller offenses: reducing Grover to a cliche spouting token black guy; not having CLARICE; the ridiculous product placement in the Medusa scene; the complete lack of the truly awesome water park sequence. I have to stop thinking about it or I’m going to tear my hair out. And this is me six months after I saw the film!

I will grant that there were two small points of non-loathing: I did enjoy Hades and I adore Sean Bean on principle, but in the end both only gave me more reasons to be angry about wasted potential. Really the casting overall was fantastic. It’s a shame they didn’t have more to do.

Why do you even bother purchasing a property with a built in audience if you then set out to alienate that audience in every possible way? There’s a reason the Twilight movies have made a gazillion dollars, everyone. Learn the lesson. Make the fans of the source material HAPPY and they will come. And come again. And buy the DVDs.

Rick Riordan was at Comic-con this year, and when he was asked about what he thought of the movie, he replied,” I haven’t seen it.” Thank god. Never watch it, Rick, Let’s just all wait ten years until the memory of this abysmal failure has faded into obscurity, and then we can hope someone from Hollywood will try again. And next time, for the love of God, do it right.