If you grew up as a millennial or Gen Z, you are probably aware of the famous fantasy book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It became a worldwide phenomenon spawning 3 sequel series and several spin-offs, along with giving us one of the most relatable and unhinged protagonists of all time. Which is why adapting the source material faithfully was high on book fans’ wishlists. However, the end product of the film became something that was far from book-accurate.
Percy Jackson (played by Logan Lerman) is an outsider who never quite fits in at his school or anywhere he goes. After getting attacked by a Fury in broad daylight, his best friend Grover (played by Brandon T. Jackson) must guide him to Camp Half-Blood for safety, whilst also telling him about his origins as a son of the Greek God, Poseidon (played by Kevin McKidd). Percy is also accused of stealing Zeus’s prized weapon, the Master Bolt, which results in Hades (played by Steve Coogan), God of the Underworld, kidnapping Percy’s mother. With no other options, Percy with the help of Grover and new friend and half-blood Annabeth (played by Alexandria Daddario) must travel across the country to rescue Percy’s mom and hopefully recover the Master Bolt before war breaks out.
I will say when I first saw this film as a kid, I really enjoyed it even after seeing the differences between the film and book. However, as I have gotten older, this movie has tasted more bitter every time I watch it. The deviations are evident from the source material and not all are for the best. I understand the studio’s decision to age up Percy Jackson and his friends but most of that takes away from the coming-of-age themes the books have become known for. The movie’s plot itself does have several nodes to the book's plot, but the film’s plot itself is its own, with Percy, Annabeth, and Grover actively seeking out monsters it seems instead of accidentally running into them as they travel across the country. Like the Lotus Casino chapter and Auntie Em’s Gnome Emporium being key plot points in the movie even though they were accidental pit stops in the book. AND the movie’s biggest sin was cutting the Ares storyline, and Percy challenging the God of War to a duel! Who wouldn’t want to see that?!
Another big sin the movie commits is wasting some of the bigger names in Hollywood. They cast Logan Lerman as Percy, Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth, Pierce Brosnan as Chiron, Sean Bean as Zeus, even Uma Thurman as Medusa, and Rosario Dawson as Persephone. They completely wasted these actor’s talents on the weak script, as characters are verbalizing what they see and what is happening around them, as well as what they are going to do. This makes character decisions unnatural and dialogue delivery rather stilted. It also leaves characters in a corner as it gives no area for wiggle room to show others figure out intentions as relationships develop.
I will say that there are some highlights of the movie. One of which is the chemistry between our core 3 characters and them trying their hardest with the material they had. Their chemistry feels like it did jump off the pages for the most part as they learn a lot about each other on their quest and save each other’s necks every other day. Their performances are pretty decent as they try hard to salvage the film from mediocrity especially Logan Lerman, who does shine elements of Percy’s book personality from time to time.
The Lightning Thief is one of those movies that had so much potential to create another blockbuster franchise like Harry Potter. However, it got lost somewhere in the cog of the movie machine with far too many deviations from the source material from aging up the characters to downright changing the entire plot of the movie. This is not any of the actors' fault as most of them do their best with what they have. In particular, Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, and Brandon T. Jackson; the weak script wastes the rest of the star-studded cast, but it seems safe to say the entire cast left the film behind them. Hollywood tripped on the goal line with turning Percy Jackson into a movie franchise with a sequel I sort of refuse to acknowledge. However, Disney is giving it a 2nd chance on Disney+ in the form of a TV series with Ryan Reynolds clone, Walker Scobell, portraying our favorite chaotic half-blood.