Saturday, February 27, 2010

Percy Jackson: Book vs Movie

I've been meaning to blog about the Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan for a while. I just finished the series in January. I finally was motivated to read them because people kept telling me that my book reminded them of the Percy Jackson books.

First off, as I mentioned in my top ten books list, I loved the books. They were, for the most part, good clean fun. There was a consistent humor underlying the whole series that Harry Potter lost. The books managed to keep this lightness in spite of the heavy save-the-world-or-die aspects of it.

It was a fun romp through Greek mythology. I love mixed genres, so I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the Greek myth world getting mixed up with our 21st century one. I also like the fact that Percy Jackson was a do-something hero, unlike HP. He made decisions and took action without waiting for Hermoine to tell him what to do. If Percy and Harry went one-on-one, I think Percy would kick Harry's butt (ooh, movie idea! Kinda like alien vs predator).

So, today, we splurged and took the family to the Percy Jackson movie. Waste of money. Should have waited for the DVD. Now, I knew the movie would be quite a bit different. I just didn't realize that the entire plot would be changed. And the new plot wasn't all that well thought out. They should have just called this a "Re-envisioning of Percy Jackson."

My first complaint is that they made some of the monsters a little too scary-looking and detailed. I'm okay with them upping the age of the characters, but a large part of the Percy Jackson fan base are middle-grade readers. For instance, the Medusa scene went on too long. It was like, "Ooh, look at this cool special effect we can do with the snakes. Look, look, and keep looking for a really long time." The scene could have been more effective and suspenseful if we only got a quick look at the Medusa. But as it was, I think the scene was too drawn out for younger viewers (there was a whole row of them sitting in front of me). I would guess this is a big reason why the movie is not faring as well at the box office as expected. Message to Hollywood: MAKE MOVIES MORE FAMILY-FRIENDLY.

Maid and butler. Too much of the backstory was just told to us, instead of showing it or weaving it into the plot. For instance, when Chiron was first showing Percy his "cabin".

The antagonist was completely changed. This may not be a problem if they are not planning on doing any more movies, but if they are, they are going to have to completely re-write the plots to match the fact that they changed the villain in the first movie. If this is the only film, I think they dropped the ball. This could have been a profitable franchise like Harry Potter.

The pearl search became a major plot point that took up most of the film.

Capture the Flag. Who made up those rules? While Percy was duking it out with Annabeth and the other reds, someone else could have grabbed the flag. And then to have everybody stop and let him pick it up like "hail the conquering hero"? The objective is to capture the flag and take it to your base, not watch Percy kick butt and then, because he's such a nice guy, let him win.

Where did that woman come from at Auntie Em's? She was a total Star Trek red shirt, with no other purpose than to show us how dangerous Medusa was.

Keys in the visor of a car on display? Very convenient.

There were many little things left out of the world that could have been left in and not taken up any more time. Thalia's tree, strawberry fields, etc. They didn't need an explanation, but they were a part of the ambiance of the books that would have been nice to have. Mr. D. strolling through Camp Half-blood could have been entertaining, too.

It seems like there were other things, but I don't remember them now. I'm going to have to start taking a notebook to movies with me so I can jot them down as they happen.

Now, there were some things I liked. Grover did manage to provide some good comic relief. I especially loved his comment about the music of Nashville. Grover kept the movie at least mildly entertaining.

Even though this was a major change from the book, I liked that the reason why the gods didn't communicate with their children was because of a law from Zeus. The thing that bothered me the most about the books was the whole concept of the gods just having children with mortals and not caring much about them afterward. We have too many mortals doing that in our world today.

The special effects were good and almost invisible. Of course, I think this and other movies many times rely on the effects too much to tell the story (anybody hear about Star Wars I, II, and III?). But still, I'm a sucker for a pretty picture.

Percy Jackson's character came through mostly the same. His telling his step-father off was out of character (and a little maid and butler again), but other than that, it was close.

I liked the location of the entrance to Hades. Sometimes we find truth in fiction.

For more information, I did post on my website under Book Ratings my score for language, sex, and violence for the books. As I said, they are relatively clean. The seemingly high language score is mainly due to the use of the H-E-Double-toothpick-hounds that kept getting mentioned. If someone wants to get technical about usage, there really wasn't any swearing in the books. But the word was there.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Spot on, Berin. I think it is okay to change things up a bit in the movie if they keep the intent and voice of the author alive. This one failed miserably in that regard.