Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Lightning Thief: My Review

I have read some online reviews from fans of the book who are savaging the movie makers by deviating from any aspect of the book. I do not share that criticism, although I do think there were some alterations that I would not have made.

Yes, the movie is different from the book. Duh. All movies that are adapted from novels have to change to meet the needs of the medium.

The storyline was streamlined from the book, and there were some changes, but overall it stayed pretty faithful to the story.

Yes the actors are older than the characters in the stories, but I always thought that a twelve year old battling the Minotaur was more than should be expected of a child. Demigod or not. Having Percy and Annabeth being older seems more believable.

My son thought Annabeth should have been blonde and with a ponytail as she is described in the book. :shrugs: Not a big problem for me.

I am going to try and be light on spoilers that would reveal plot twists for those who are interested in seeing the movies or reading the books.

To me, it appears that the filmmakers are unsure as to whether or not they want to make any further movies in this series. The box office haul will probably determine whether or not any sequels will get the green light. Therefore certain plot elements were eliminated which I think should have been included because it minimized the overall meaning of the Most Evil Plot of stealing Zeus' master lightning bolt.

Bummer. The implications of that theft and what it Could Have Meant to Western Civilization and to the Fate of the World as We Know It is what drives the rest of the series. Until the end of Book 5 (The Last Olympian) when that Most Eeeevil threat is finally defeated for once and for all.

It also means that it would be the fulfillment of a vague but ominous sounding Great Prophecy that was given probably about fifty years earlier by the Oracle of Delphi.

That Great Prophecy was not mentioned, nor even alluded to in the movie. Instead there was a different explanation as to why the Greek gods and goddesses did not have contact with their demigod children. Personally, I found that explanation given at the end of the movie by Poseidon to be lame.

Because it also contradicted a few of the underlying aspects of the story as established in the books, such as the demigods going to Mount Olympus at the Winter Solstice which is when the theft occurred.

So no explanation of how the theft occurred is provided in the movie. Just the revelation of who the culprit really was and a paler reason as to the motive was behind the theft than what was in the book.

The moviemakers also did not include the Oracle of Delphi being a strange resident in Camp Half-Blood. If any sequels are made, then the Oracle will have to be included and the omission of it in the first movie will not be really seen as a gaping plot hole.

Without the Oracle, there was no prophecy given for the quest that Percy went on. Instead, he set out on his own with two friends who insisted on going with him. They sought help from another camper who gave them a map, a shield, flying shoes, and a plan to find magical pearls to use in the Underworld. Magical pearls which in the book were given to Percy in another scene by other immortal beings.

I was not bothered by that difference, but I did not like the stage design for the cabins at Camp Half-Blood. Especially the cabin for the children of Hermes. In the book, that cabin is described as being overstuffed with campers to the point there aren't enough bunks for everyone, so sleeping bags are strewn around the floor.

In the movie we only see Luke in that cabin and he's playing high tech video games. I did not understand why they chose to make that difference other than there were fewer extras used in that scene.

I liked that they changed one action/adventure sequence from the Arch in Saint Louis to being at the Pantheon in Nashville. That was pretty cool having a Greek temple in the movie rather than an arch.

I thought showing letters moving around was a good visual for audiences to understand how dyslexics have difficulty decoding the written word. That was easier for filmmakers than the author to get across in his books.

I also liked Hades having an Alice Cooper look about him. He was compared onscreen to Mick Jagger, but I think Alice Cooper was more appropriate. Hades was still funny as he was in the book, but for different reasons.

There was also no showing of the Isles of the Blessed or Elysium Fields. This made the Underworld look like unrelenting hell. They also missed out on showing the EZ Death lines. I preferred the updated today version of Charon in the book to the more classic version of Charon which appeared in the movie.

There was something that did bug me. A continuity error.

Persephone should not have been in the Underworld when Percy arrived. She wasn't there in the books because it was the Summer Solstice and she would be above ground.

So the screenwriter changing some aspects of how Percy escaped should have seen the fact of why she was not there.

Because her presence there at that time of the year is not compatible with Greek myths.

However, if they really wanted her there, they needed to give a justification as to why she was there. They could have had a line inserted with Persephone giving some kind of explanation of why she was there, but there wasn't.

And I don't recall Annabeth calling Percy "Seaweed Brain." Not once. Bummer. I like that term of endearment/derision said to our hero.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie and the humor. I hope it does well, and we will purchase the DVD as soon as it is available. I will also look forward to going to see The Sea of Monsters should it be filmed.

Oh, and for those going to see the movie, please do not leave as soon as the credits start to roll. There is another scene which is worthwhile staying for about a minute into the credits. It does vary from what happened in the movie, is GREAT.
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