Brandon's Word: Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a Shame
by Brandon Lee Tenney
February 12, 2010
If there's one thing I hate above all else, it's wasted potential. Unfortunately, Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief is just that: wasted potential. The film has a stunning cast, home to the likes of Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Uma Thurman, Catherine Keener, Kevin McKidd, Joe Pantoliano, Rosario Dawson, and Steve Coogan. Of course, the actors above are but the trimmings on a film starring Alexandra Daddario (as Annabeth), Brandon T. Jackson (as Grover), and, as the titular character, Logan Lerman. It's these three we are meant to follow and grow with. Unfortunately, though, these three are the film's least interesting components. Them and the script, that is.
My heart aches for Chris Columbus. Between his writing and directing credits, he informed my childhood with films such as Home Alone, The Goonies, Gremlins, Mrs. Doubtfire, and, later, the first two Harry Potter films. Unfortunately, Columbus ultimately fails with his adaptation of Percy Jackson. Characters are left to run wild -- the satyr Grover, mostly -- and ultimately fail to grow at all. But it's the film's script that is its biggest problem. The writing just isn't compelling. Almost every line of dialog is so on-the-nose that each character might have been better off holding up a color-coded cue card to let the audience know their emotion during any given scene. That sure would have been easier on my ears.
And Percy Jackson, who we're meant to follow, quite literally, into the depths of Hades, is a static, bland vacuum. You'd think as a demigod he'd be instantly interesting. At least, I imagine that's what the screenwriter thought. Oh, how wrong. Percy is more often than not -- literally and figuratively -- handed everything he needs to complete a task. He doesn't have to earn anything. He instantly acquires skills when he needs them, then masters them on a whim when the story deems it necessary. He's a character being tugged through the quest by the writer's invisible rope instead of finding the way himself. The former just isn't interesting.
As for the ridiculously long title: it's not even apropos. The title should actually be: Percy Jackson and His Brief Encounter with the Olympians: The Search for Persephone's Pearls. Lightning thievery is barely a factor at all. The film promises an A-story, then serves up a B-story that lasts for well over ninety percent of its running time. And at the end, Percy is ostensibly unchanged. Annabeth, daughter of Athena and touted as a master strategist, is useless when some actual strategy may be needed, but she's great when it comes to capture the flag. That's useful, I suppose. But hey, the film does use Lady Gaga's "Poker Face" really well. So, there's that.
When all's said and done, this film will undoubtedly be compared to Columbus's work on Harry Potter. For all their flaws, those two films are so far above this one that even the elevator to Mount Olympus can't reach them. And what a shame that is. There's such potential beneath the surface of Percy Jackson's world. Though, if it continues to be played as a greatest hits of Greek mythology for kids without a dynamic group of characters who I can actually care about and not just laugh at while they trip on Sirens's hors d'oeuvres, then we're never going to see that potential realized. And that's simply a godsdamned shame.
Brandon's Rating: 5 out of 10
Reader Feedback - 42 Comments
Im sad to hear it..i was hoping it as good
Frank on Feb 12, 2010
Was hoping to avoid this stinker, the marketing for the most part was terrible and the film looks poorly made. Apropos is used innapropriately here, by the way. adj. Being at once opportune and to the point. Synonymous to "relevant" adv. 1. At an appropriate time; opportunely. 2. By the way; incidentally: Apropos, where were you yesterday?
Linkfx on Feb 12, 2010
That's what I was afraif of. 🙁 I read the first book of the series which is really nice. The characters are interesting as well as the story (which actually is about someone stealing Zeus' mighty weapon) and have to earn their achievements throughout the book. Oh well, a simple adaptation of the novel would have been way too easy, I suppose ...
Jill on Feb 12, 2010
I had a good idea what the film would ultimately end up as.
d1rEct on Feb 12, 2010
Ouch! That is a SCATHING review. You just took the steam out of my excitement.
l.21 on Feb 12, 2010
Slightly harsh review. In defense of the script, that is how The Harry Potter franchise is structured so it was probably borrowed from that. Harry always seems to master his skills when needed or relies on dumb luck. It's only until the later books and subsequent films that this changes slightly or is truly reflected on by Harry. I agree, slightly shallow but what made it okay for Harry Potter to do it and not Percy Jackson? I think it has to do with age of seeing and reading such scripts and stories.
Jason on Feb 12, 2010
solid review, unfortunate for the movie, but I trust you. I had hopes for this, really, but deep inside it seemed as though it would be a disappointment. Damn.
Voice of Reason on Feb 12, 2010
This for me as said in this article for percy Jackson it sounds two Harry Potter like for me. I was looking forward to this one but after this i think i will leave it untill it Come on DVD.
Cineprog on Feb 12, 2010
Jason on Feb 12, 2010
Spot on! Such a wasted heap of good ideas. I'm sure the author of the book series is quite displeased.
David on Feb 12, 2010
Just back from the movies. Incredibly disappointed. Was expecting so much more. I've read all the 5 books. The movie doesn't remotely remind the book. Not the story, not the characters. I remember when I watched the first trailer and got so excited, with the cast and everything, and even though I was a bit afraid of the age of the kids, well, I thought it would be better. As for the difference between this and Harry Potter, is that in the book, that's mainly what happens to Harry, sheer lucky. Anyway, I couldn't agree more with you Brandon. Shame. Couldn't think Chris Columbus would put his name in such a waste. Maybe if I hadn't read the book and didn't know anything about what it was supposed to be I would have enjoyed the movie as some sunday afternoon flick.
Ives on Feb 12, 2010
So are we talking "Eragon" bad
Mac on Feb 12, 2010
i'm greek and i love greek mythology... tbh i just find hollywoods attempts at greek mythology offensive. seriously, if you can't do it right, dont do it at all. but then again, theres no way this could be worse then meet the spartans... that movie was a mockery of one of the greatest moments in ancient greek history.
thedell on Feb 12, 2010
Um #13 I agree that Hollywood destroys greek mythology which is a sin because I love it too...but the point of Meet The Spartans was to be a mockery...did you mean 300?
Maxx on Feb 12, 2010
12, just as bad.. no chance for a series.. plot was terrible, script even worse... dont understand why they can not just take a book and turn it into a movie. Whats the point if they change the whole timeline, storyline, and everything else.
Jason on Feb 12, 2010
Stunning cast???!!! Are you kidding??!!! besides Uma........Stunning???!!!!
Clover on Feb 13, 2010
Ahem, Clover. Two words: Sean. Bean. Come on!
Brandon Lee Tenney on Feb 13, 2010
@2 adj. Being at once opportune and to the point. Synonymous to "relevant" "As for the ridiculously long title: it's not even apropos." I don't have a fancy college degree hanging on my wall or anything, but his usage is both as an adjective and in keeping with the definition. I don't see what the problem is. As far as the movie goes, is anyone at all surprised? The trailer looked terrible. It doesn't really matter, tho. This flick is going to make a buttload of money and they'll make sequel after sequel. Teens will flock to this crap the way they do with Twilight and the Potter movies. Critics have become entirely pointless. Why even bother reviewing something like this? It's not made for any reason other than to attract an audience of people with an entirely disposable income. It's beneath critique.
Squiggly_P on Feb 13, 2010
@18 "Teens will flock to this crap the way they do with Twilight and the Potter movies." I usually don't comment on this sort of thing, but I've seen it so much, I feel rather annoyed right now. It's basically ignorant to bunch Twilight with movies like Potter or Jackson. They belong to very different genres, have very different aims, are aimed at very different audiences. Twilight is teen romance for young girls. It really has nothing to do with fantasy, horror, except that it exploits vampires to add a twist to teen romance. There's nothing wrong with a film being made for teenage girls. They're real people too, and they have different interests than 20-something film geeks, just as children are real people and should also get films made just for them, rather than for pretentious film bloggers. So, in short, its dumb to classify Twilight with fantasy. It's also a bit myopic to criticize it, because it doesn't appeal to you (in addition to being rather pathetic. do you criticize children's toys as well? you sound like the comic book guy from The Simpsons). I'm sure this is a bit belated, as I imagine a thousand people made similarly ignorant comments when Twilight was in normal release. I guess I'm just a little tired of hearing grown men criticize teen films. It's really pathetic.
whatever on Feb 13, 2010
Get back on subject, kids.
Angry Chief on Feb 13, 2010
haven't seen it yet,heard it wasn't any good.what i've seen of the special effects though look impressive.
DEADPOOL,MERC WITH A MOUTH on Feb 14, 2010
you guys read a review and instantly say like a onemouthed mind "im not gonna see it"? how can you just believe into something thats just meant to be an opinion? im gonna see it because the fx look great and i love movies about gods, i just want to be entertained alittle bit withoput believeing this movie will blast me to pieces like avatar because it doenst have to its series it can grow. and who the fuck is brandon?
jojoe on Feb 14, 2010
Sheriff of Nottingham on Feb 14, 2010
I wonder what Billington thinks about this movie since he thought the trailers looked impressive.
almartva on Feb 14, 2010
man. bummer. i've read all the books and was really looking forward to a film version of this. but then i saw a few trailers and now this. i'll skip it.
crumb on Feb 15, 2010
Was it an attempt to cash in on some Harry Potter money? Like an American version of it? I thought it was okay, the atmosphere just wasn't there though and it jumped around a lot.
Crapola on Feb 15, 2010
#25- I did, and I am very glad that the gods deemed for this would be franchise to fail from the start... I wish the gods would have done the same for GI-Joe.
almartva on Feb 15, 2010
Why is no one talking about that fact that the mythology of the books is wrong? Percy (Perseus) is the son of a mortal woman (Danae) and ZEUS! Not Poseidon...this irritates me. Zeus came to Danae in a shower of gold (note how Percy's mother evaporates) and Perseus was the outcome of that 'union.'
mythcheck on Feb 15, 2010
I just saw the movie today and it was really disappointing. I really think that this film ruined what is called Greek mythology, which actually makes me kind of sad :’(. I haven’t read the books yet so I don’t know whether it is the author or just the film producers who messed it up. I mean there are so many mistakes in the script of the movie e.g. the fact that Athena is a virgin goddess and therefore has no children and won’t get any. I even read that Percy Jackson is supposed to be 12 years in the first film – I am sorry but it does not seem as if the actor is 12. Too lousy movie that focuses too little on the plot – find the lightning
Fantasy lover on Feb 20, 2010
Uhh and by the way "mythcheck," Percy is not Perseus, that is actually one of the few things they made correct.
Fantasy lover on Feb 20, 2010
In the scene where Percy helps win the capture the flag and is 'claimed' by Poseidon, Chiron formally addresses Percy as "Perseus" and the fact that Percy's mother disappears in a burst of gold during the fight with the minotaur seems to me an obvious reference to the story of Danae and Zeus.
mythcheck on Feb 24, 2010
mythcheck- that is why you and every person who sees the movie will think that the author of the books must have butchered Greek mythology. Untrue. The screenwriter butchered the books. The books are well researched and follow and explain a lot about Greek mythology. My children now know much more about Greek mythology than I did. In the book Chiron does not address Percy as Perseus. As someone who saw the movie but did not read the books, you may have a pleasant reverse experience from what the rest of us that read the book and THEN saw the movie are having. My children read the books to me out-loud every morning before school. Each day we all looked forward to hearing what would happen next. When the first book was finished they eagerly checked out the next one, and the next one... Now that we've seen the first movie, none of us are looking forward to a sequel, the first one was too painful a masquer of the original story.
Mark on Feb 25, 2010
I did not really have any expectations for this movie. I am glad i didn't because it really sucked. Not only was there nothing good in the movie, the acting was shit.
MoviePorch on Apr 2, 2010
I have to agree! The movie was the book (butchered). I read that Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson series, did not see the movie because it would change how he imagined Percy. I'm glad he didn't see what they've done to Percy Jackson. Oh, and the Poker Face part was probably the best. I feel sorry for all those Percy J. fans out there. This isn't what they wanted. They didn't want a cut up version of Percy's plot pasted it all wrong! No, they wanted a book-movie. Not a purely-for-the-money movie. All the people who created it cared about was advertising--mostly teenagers go to the movies. So the main characters are teenagers. Then they eliminated every part that was absolutely hilarious and added their own twists. They also combined Clarisse and Annabeth, if you didn't notice. Personally, I liked Annabeth just the way she was. As a movie, it was good. As a book-movie? Oh, the horror. It sucked. For the fans: Sorry if I upsetted anyone who enjoyed this movie! Being a Percy fan, I have looked forward to this for years. So cut me some slack if I offended you.
Z. N. on Apr 7, 2010
This article actually said everything i needed to! They missed out the important stuff, i was looking forawrd to clarisse getting soaked in toilet water. and the fight with Ares, but NOOO it weren't there. So i hope they don't mess up the sea of monsters or .... Percy Jackson & The Last Olympians.! because that was my fave book. So if they mess that up i will write to them!
Cindy on Apr 12, 2010
Well Medusa and The Lotus Casino ROCKED
Cindy on Apr 12, 2010
Well the problem is people are always comparing this type of movie/book to Harry Potter, when frankly... it isn't. So I say why do that?
Daniel Webber on Apr 27, 2010
For all their flaws, those two films are so far above this one that even the elevator to Mount Olympus can't reach them. And what a shame that is.
speakChinese on May 27, 2010
Ok, for as the movie goes I thought it was "ok" but it had a lot more potential then it showed. The movie could have been alot better, but sadly they changed the plot somewhat. I am a big fan of the books, and have read all five, and when I first saw the previews of the movie, I was thinking" Wow they look alot older than 12 years old". This ruins the series because of the whole " Great prophecy" when he reaches 16 or 17 in the books. Not only that, but when I saw the movie I relized there was some key parts of the story missing. The oracle, that gives all the quests, Clarissa one of the main charcters, Annabeth's friendship with Luke, the battle with Ares, and more. Oh and for mythcheck, yes his name is Perseus" Percy for short" ,but he was named after Perseus the son of Zeus. If you saw the movie when there in the museum Mr. Brunner asks Percy what does he and Perseus have in common , and which he replies his name. The movie isnt as good as the books so before criticizing the series, you should at least read the first book first. As for a sequel, its possible. I've heard that they have already started with auditons.
PercyJacksonRules on Jul 16, 2010
I agree with you #33 Rick Riordan did a great job on the Percy Jackson series. The screen writer messed it up totaly makes you wander if he even read all the books befor he wrote anythiny sure doesnt seam like it. If I was Mr Riordan I would be more than alittle stompin mad! They totaly made a mess out of the story. #36 I agree I am glad that Mr Riordan didnt see it but I wish he could do something about the mess they made. I also agree with all of you that they changed the whole story It wasnt Hades who the lightening bolt was sent to it was Kronos they didnt even mention him. And they say in the book you can not look on a gods true form but Hades appears to them in his true form give me a break. I dont see how they can fix their mess or if they will fix it. In the book Poseidon gave Percy the pearls they didnt go all over looking for them and at the end he did not use a pearl on his mom so much was nothing like the books all I can say is read the books they are a trillion times better than the movie. Cant see the next movie being any better will wait till it hits tv.
U Have Got to be Kidding Me on Jul 30, 2010
the review isn't harsh at all.all that brandon stated was true,some chapters in the book aren't in the movie and there were important things that was completely changed.I would to question the movie makers "where was Clarisse,she was the bully daughter of the war god,Ares?";"how will you make the movie when she's got a big part in the 2nd book and 4th book and maybe in the last one(i haven't yet read "the last olympian").In the book the lightning bolt was hidden in a bag given by ares to percy in a restaurant,many things were changed therefore the movie makers needs to make up for the 4 remaining movies.
caliber101 on Aug 14, 2010
Sorry, new comments are no longer allowed.