Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
I actually waited until I have read the book before attempting to make a blog or more accurately a review and comparison of the film vs the movie. So, here goes…I hope I do justice to what I set out to do.
Director: Chris Columbus
Screenwriter: Craig Titley
Starring: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson, Catherine Keener, Kevin McKidd, Joe Pantoliano, Uma Thurman, Ray Winstone
Movie Plot Summary: 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.
This was how the film was presented.
Review and Comparison:
Sheesh! Where do I begin?
A friend told me that I was quite fortunate to have seen the film before I got my hands on the book. Actually, this might be another Harry Potter for me though, I honestly doubt it would create the same mania with me personally. Sadly, the story just isn’t that deep and complicated as I would have wanted it to be, but it’s certainly a lot better (for me) than the Twilight series could ever hope to be.
1) In the movie Perseus (Percy) Jackson was cast as a teenager, probably about 14 years old and older; whereas in the original story from the book, Percy was a 12-year old boy, in 6th grade.
2) In the movie, during the attack at the museum Mr. Brunner threatened the Fury (Mrs. Dodds) to leave; whereas in the book Percy killed the Fury with the pen which turned into a sword called Riptide (Anaklumos) which was thrown to him by his Latin teacher, Mr. Brunner.
3) The three pearls – in the movie Percy and his companions sought out the pearls that will enable them to leave the realm of Hades. However, in the original story these pearls were gifted to Percy by a Naiad under the service of his father Poseidon.
4) The Lotus Eaters – in the movie we saw Percy realizing that he was trapped with the lotus eaters through the guidance of his father, Poseidon. In the book, Percy realized they were in trouble inside the Lotus Casino after talking to a kid who was wearing a 70s outfit and using the expression”Groovy”. I mean who uses that anymore..hehehe!
Side Comment: In classical mythology once a person had eaten the lotus flower which was the food of the lotus eaters, that man is lost forever, he could neither remember where he was going or where he came from. Hence, the book was classically more correct in that there Percy and his friends was never said to have eaten the lotus flower unlike in the film where it was shown that they were eating this food.
5) The thunderbolt – in the film this was hidden inside the shield given by Luke (son of Hermes) to Percy; in the book the thunderbolt was inside a bag given by Ares to Percy as a reward for retrieving Ares’ shield from the Water Park. Here the thunderbolt was enchanted to appear within the bag from Ares containing their provisions and change of clothes only after they reached the Underworld/Hades’ realm.
6) In the movie, only one item was stolen – the master bolt (the piece from which all Zeus’ thunderbolts were made from); in the book two items were stolen to create a three-way war – Zeus’ master bolt and Hades’ Helm of Darkness (cap of invisibility).
Side Comment: The book logic was a lot more believable and mythologically correct. Between the “big three” namely Zeus (Sky); Poseidon (Sea); and Hades (Underworld)… Hades would have been the prime suspect for the crime since he was the one with the record of stealing…that of the kidnap of Persephone. So, to be able to point the theft to him Hades needs to be a victim too thus, the theft of his precious item the Helm of Darkness.
7) The thief – in the movie Luke, son of Hermes, was shown as the real thief who stole the master bolt because he was angry at the gods from being useless parents and he wanted to bring them down. In the book, Luke really was the thief but he was acting under instructions of a much stronger entity, one so old and evil – who was once called the Crooked One – the titan Kronos.
Side Comment: I mean think about it, would a 19-year old kid be able to think of such an underhanded plot? Granted he was a demi-god but still he was half-human afterall.
8) In the film, the gods lack of attention to their children was explained as because Zeus made a decree that the gods were not allowed anymore to have any direct contact with their children; whereas there was no mention of this rule in the book.
The movie was vastly entertaining taken at face value. It was a great adventure and in some degree it got the interest of young kids to read their mythology, though the downside would be they would be hugely irritated by the misinformation by the film. But as entertainment, I think the movie was very good.
Now, what I don’t understand was the continual insistence of Hollywood to make movies out of book stories when they know full well that they would be criticized for their lack of accuracy. I mean, I am not a book nerd so much as to insist everything to be in the movie but at least when they make lapses in the film they should at least make them unnoticeable and what’s more it should be more accurate and should follow the plot of the book.
I tip my hats off to Chris Columbus for this movie, he might have might found himself a new Harry Potter, though I think he did a better job with HP because he was very close to the original with the first two films until Alfonso Cuaron ruined it.
I also do not understand Hollywood’s need to sweeten up the plot, like they did with the explanation of why the gods are not in direct contact with their children. Classical mythology tells us that that was just how they are! They are philanderers, thieves, jealous, they’re selfish and not very good parents. How many times in Greek mythology have we seen Zeus hiding from his wife Hera, when he was chasing after this or that nymph? Or Poseidon raping Medusa. Or Athena instead of taking pity on her servant Medusa was disgusted by her weakness and turned her into a hideous monster. In mythology, we read about many nymphs and maiden who would rather die than gain the amorous attention of the gods.
I remember during my mythology subject in highschool this was among the first things my teacher asked of me during my research on the greek gods and goddesses. She asked, “how come the greek deities never lasted like the Christian belief did?” And I answered what I read from Edith Hamilton’s conclusions – that the Greek deities were not able to survive once Christianity began because people were looking for something beyond themselves, something they could hold on to and believe to be above them. The Greek dieties had the emotions and tantrums of humanity, they’re spiteful, they’re spoiled, they’re jealous and not above being tricked by humans. There was really nothing to believe in, men fear them because they can be capricious and can rain pestilence on them but they do not respect the gods. Whereas, Christianity gave them Jesus Christ who loved beyond any human could ever love, who was forgiving and merciful beyond human capability and who never showed any capriciousness or cruelty. Traits that would be humanly impossible to attain, something that’s beyond human and yet wrapped with love and purity.