I won’t sugar coat my words. The Lightning Thief (2010) was a flop. I fear for the upcoming Sea Of Monsters (2013), the second instalment in the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. In fact, after the unfortunate mauling the first book of the series received at the hands of director Chris Columbus, I can’t quite believe they’re going to carry on with the second book. And I honestly have no idea how they plan to do so.
After all, the plot is already twisted out of recognition, the personality of major characters altered mercilessly to suit the ends of the filming crew, and hugely important aspects of the book have already been omitted completely from the movie. I do not see how they can spawn a second movie after the without having to twist the plot of the second book of the series as well. This does not sound appealing in the least.
There have been some movie adaptations of books that were successful- (perhaps one of the most famous being the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling) but they remain an endangered species as more and more books are converted poorly into movies and left to die a miserable death on the silver screen. I haven’t seen a movie adaptation of a book die as spectacularly as the Lightning Thief (2010), and honestly, I am not sure if I can stomach a second gruesome death which will inevitably occur unless they a) magically erase the memories of the terrible movie, and film another one with a better cast, better script, and a decent plot that follows the book to a reasonable degree, or b) do a stunning job with the Sea Of Monsters (2013) and rejuvenate the series.
None of them seem very likely. Here’s why.
(If you haven’t read the Lightning Thief, click here for a summary of the plot. You might need to know the background.)
1. The major villain is cut out almost completely.
Kronos, the King of the Titans, the Lord of Time,and one of the most respectable fictional villains I have met for a while, goes completely missing from the movie. Let us take a moment to digest this. This is as just ridiculous as it sounds. Hmm, why don’t we just remove Voldemort from Harry Potter, Sauron from Lord of the Rings, and Frankenstein from Frankenstein and expect it to still vaguely resemble a story? Great idea. Two thumbs up.
Luke takes most of the credit for Kronos’ dastardly plan, and Ares’ part in everything is completely obliterated. There is simply no plot twist, no Ares sword fight, and no sudden realization that Luke has fallen to evil ways. More importantly, there is no villain.
2. The brilliantly written plot (full of plot twists, intriguin, imaginative details, lots of action) is replaced with an insanely boring, simplified, rip off of an Easter Hunt.
The terrific plot twist Rick Riordan wrote in (first pinning the lightning bolt’s disappearance to Ares, then to Kronos, and then finally to Luke) is removed (plus the villain, as mentioned above), and the directors decide to fill the massive gaping void in the plot by plugging in a few completely random shining orbs.
Nowhere in the book does it say that Percy Jackson has to find a few random shining orbs in order to get the lightning bolt. A water nymph gives three pearls to Percy (gifts from Poseidon) that will help them escape the underworld. No shining orbs. Would you rather a plot about a Easter treasure hunt, or a plot about a Titan plotting to escape from Tartarus by turning his sons against each other and sowing dissent among demigods who feel betrayed by their godly parents and want to create a better world without gods and Olympus? It’s a no brainer, really. Team shiny object!
3. The characters are a far cry from the authentic, appealing, brilliantly realized ones in the book.
I don’t understand the point of calling the movie ‘Percy Jackson: The Lightning Thief’ when they make no effort at all to keep to Rick Riordan’s writing. Of course, I’m not saying a little creativity is bad. I’m saying that creativity should be used to create a) new movies not based on books, b) beautiful sets and c) a great movie script. In the books, Grover is a nervous satyr who faints at any slight provocation and chews coke cans. He’s funny and goofy, and we see ultimately how brave he is when he agrees to accompany Percy Jackson on his quest despite his fear of monsters and dark, smelly places (a.k.a the underworld). In the movie, however, he is funny, confident, and decked out with amazing kung-fu moves. He basically steals the show from Percy Jackson, who is supposed to be the funny, confident one with amazing sword fighting skills but just ends up seeming very dull and stupid in the movie. Sure, he also gets to be the dutiful, mother-loving son, but the mother-son relationship is sickly sweet, cliched, cheesy, and slightly overbearing where in the movie it is tender, touching, and real.
On a side note, Alexandra Daddario looks nothing like her character, Annabeth, and happens to be twice the age she’s supposed to be. (26 to Annabeth Chase’s 13) In addition, she just doesn’t look like Annabeth to me- someone who’s supposed to be blond and slender, someone who’s witty (when she’s in a good mood) and sarcastic (when she’s not), someone who dreams of building a glorious city, someone who comes up with the best attack strategies and is calm and collected in the face of adversity. Alexandra Daddeiro, is vaguely good looking when you view her from the right angles, yes, but as Daniel Ottalini says, looks more like a valhalla goddess. She also looks vaguely evil, and would make a good villain. If Thor ever needs a daughter, Alexandra is the one to pick. As a daughter of Athena, the goddess of wisdom… The casting of Annabeth, however, remains the most minor of problems with the first Percy Jackson movie.
All in all, he first movie wasn’t the best book-to-movie adaptations in the world, since the directors cut out all the major parts of the book (a.k.a. the main villain, the other villain,the climatic swordfight with Ares, Clarisse) in favor of exemplifying something and revolving the plot around something (a.k.a. a bunch of shining orbs) that wasn’t even mentioned once in the book. I really cannot believe Rick Riordan would allow his book series to be mutilated in this way- its akin to watching nonchalantly as your five month old baby is forced into a cage full of hungry, prowling lions.
Anyway, I’m waiting with baited breath for March 15, 2013. It’s make it or break it with this movie- I don’t think the series can survive another round of battering, and it desperately needs a good movie to put it back on the path of eternal popularity alongside the Hunger games and Harry Potter as a popular young adult/children’s fantasy series.