Greetings and Salutations, True Believers!


Little buggers are still lurking about. Pay ’em no heed.

Now, where were we? Oh right, making up for lost time and all that.  Time for the 2nd of three currently slated reviews before the end of the weekend! Today’s subject: Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief.

Sweet, right?

PJ:TLT is the first of a book series written by Rick Riordan, based in Greek Mythology and following the adventures of Perseus Jackson, a young son of Poseidon living in a modern, dangerous world. It’s a truly amazing books series, and I recommend it to everyone I know.

This review isn’t about that though. This is about the movie adaptation of that wonderful, wonderful book. By proxie, it must be wonderful, right?

Ha! Nope! Let me put it this way: Never before have I come out of a theater feeling like I was actually physically violated. In case you haven’t read them, my brother Jon and I did some sketches on this little escapade awhile back, when the movie was first made.  Here’s the first, for your viewing pleasure:

To outline why I hated this movie so much, I’ll have to go into a bit of back story. As I said before, I loooove me some Rick Riordan novels. Greek Mythology is my personal poison, and nobody writes it better than Riordan. So I went in with high expectations. What I got was a list of discrepancies so long you could wrap Christmas presents in it. Speaking of which, I’d like to borrow a line from one of the greatest complaint letters ever. It’s wholly appropriate to me here that Rick is short for Richard, so I don’t even have to change the name in this quote: “I’ll try and explain how this felt. Imagine being a twelve year old boy Richard. Now imagine it’s Christmas morning and you’re sat their with your final present to open. It’s a big one, and you know what it is. It’s that Goodmans stereo you picked out the catalogue and wrote to Santa about.Only you open the present and it’s not in there. It’s your hamster Richard. It’s your hamster in the box and it’s not breathing.”

That’s EXACTLY how I felt at the end of this movie, and I’ll outline why here. The first thing is massive character discrepancies. I’m gonna address these character by character from what I can remember. Oh, and it goes without saying that there will be spoilers from here on out, so if you are still keen on watching this movie after the above descriptor, then you should probably skip this section.

Still here? Don’t say I didn’t warn you. The main discrepancy is the flash forward in age for all the main characters: While Percy was 12 in the books, and all the other campers were around that age. In fact, one of the things stated to bring the danger into focus was that most half-bloods don’t survive past 12 or 13 outside of the camp with no training. This gets tossed out the window pretty quickly, since at the start of the movie, Percy and his compatriots are now 16 and up(anyone who has read beyond the first book will know exactly why this is a problem.) However, while this is an issue, it’s not as glaring as the character specific issues that I’ll outline below.

We’ll start with Grover: In the books, Grover is this un-assuming cripple who turns out to be a satyr tasked with looking out for half-blood kids like Percy.  He’s a bit of a coward, but there when you need him, and also probably the shyest guy on the planet. In the movie, Grover turns into a “bodyguard” whose only act of defense is dropping the hammer on Percy’s sleazy step-father. Wow, scary stuff, right? He’s also the biggest player ever, and by the end of the movie his whole persona screams “I’m a pimp!” It’s pretty disturbing, and actually kinda racist considering Grover’s original character.

Moving on, we have Anna Beth: If you thought Grover was bad, wait till you get a load of Anna Beth. Anna Beth in the books was a calculating, logical, slightly impulsive little girl whose brains sometimes got ahead of her common sense. In the movie, they fold the character of Clarrise, a rough-n-tumble, take-no-prisoners daughter of Ares, into Anna Beth’s character, leaving her a strong, tactically-minded “woman” that is as emotionally deep as an ash-tray.  They try to shoe-horn her ability to fight in as “I’m the daughter of Athena, tactics are my specialty”, etc etc, but it really doesn’t work. As anyone whose studied combat can tell you, tactics most definitely does not equal skill. As the great Frank Gilbreth Sr. once said, “Let’s just say I can TEACH anyone how to do it.” Knowing tactics, the theory of battle( usually large scale battle) and knowing how to fight are two entirely different things, it’s like saying that Newton could manipulate gravity because he understood the theory of it. It simply doesn’t stand to logic, and that combined with her complete lack of relatability makes the whole character feel one-dimensional and forced.

Really, this can go on and on. Every character in this movie is incredibly messed up, even down to the one-shot side characters. They even managed to mess up the Medusa! Fox, are you paying attention? This is a monster that even Clash of Titans got right for crying out loud! What’s even worse is that on top of the characters being bad, the acting is down right shoddy. The first couple of scenes can be summed up as “Water dude stumbles on to Sky Scraper, drunk Boromir blows up a window.” They dump all of this information about half-bloods, Zeus’s lightning bolt, Olympian Politics, and a whole slew of other various and sundry details on you all at once, without any explanation of who or what or why. Unless you’ve read the books or studied Greek Mythology, you won’t get whats going on, which isn’t in itself a bad thing, but when after that it turns right around and takes a magnificent dump all over the books and Greek mythology in general, the whole thing feels schizophrenic at best.

This movie really is trying too hard to be taken seriously, and in the process makes itself even more ridiculous. From turning the Greek gods into a mystical U.N. (Zeus is Russia, Poseidon is the U.S., and Hades is…I don’t know, China or something, Hades isn’t really that important anyway in this movie) to trying to bring in all the teen angst that it took 5 books to develop into one movie, there’s just way too much going on that we are supposed to take seriously and care about, but when it comes down to it, there’s so much stuffed into this movie that it just leaves you feeling rather Meh. Shoddy Casting, Bad Writing, over-the-top special effects that leave me with the sneaking suspicion that Michael Bay was a consultant on this film, and truly terrible action. The irony here is that the final fight scene between *spoiler that you should have seen coming miles a way* between Percy and Luke is up for an award for best fight scene at the MTV movie Awards, and it’s not even that good! The climactic ending is Percy blowing up a few water towers and then taking 10-20 seconds while Luke, a man characterized in the books by his willingness to brutally murder Percy, sits and gawks while he twists the water into a mega trident, which he then throws into Luke’s neck, plunging him into the ocean. It sounds awesome, but it’s actually boring when you see it happen, and the fact that Luke had ample time to run Percy through the whole time takes you out of the scene. *end of spoiler you should have seen coming miles away*When it comes right down to it, not even the musical score in this movie is that great. Really, there is nothing redeeming here. This movie is like walking into Olive Garden and finding the inside has been replaced by Mcdonalds, and the Mcdonalds is in the middle of a Labyrinth. When it comes right down to it, it’ll still fill you up, but for the amount of work put into getting there, combined with the fact that it may just give you food poisoning will just leave you feeling confused, and if you are a fan of the books, a little bit betrayed.  There is nothing redeeming about this movie. 0/10 teacups.