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A Look at Percy Jackson: The Book vs The Movie

Updated on August 13, 2011

Rick Riordan wanted to write a book suited for children to young adults and he found Greek mythology enticing and decided to combine the two. In the process, he came to the story of Percy Jackson and the Olympians. At quick glance a lot of people will look at the series and liken it to the very popular Harry Potter series. While undoubtedly there are similarities from the main characters, Percy Jackson separates itself because of how it is grounded in Greek mythology. It manages to put the story itself on a much bigger scale. The first book was titled The Lightning Thief as Zeus' master bolt was stolen. He assumes one of his brothers, Poseidon had something to do with it. He further assumes that Percy Jackson was the culprit. As Percy is a demigod, half-human half-god, which defies a pact that the big three made (Zeus, Hades, Poseidon) on having children as their offspring can become to powerful and become a legitimate threat to Olympus. With this in mind it is why Zeus believes that Percy stole the master bolt. After all of this has transpired in the background, Percy's life is in danger now as he is fully unaware of what he is and is currently enrolled in school living a normal life but struggles due to be diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. On a school trip he gets attacked by his teacher Ms. Dodds who reveals herself to actually be a Fury as she assumes he has the master bolt and wants it from him. Shortly after he gets past that fight, his best friend Grover reveals himself to be a satyr and believes the safest place for Percy is Camp Half Blood, a camp that protects demigods like him.

The book continues to move at a very fast pace from then on. As he reaches the camp his mother is attacked by a Minotaur, he fights against some of his fellow demigods at camp, he has a run in with Medusa, Echidna, the Sisters Fate, Ares the god of war, and he even goes to Hades and is almost sucked into Tartarus. At Camp Half Blood the demigods that he meets and befriends includes most notably Annabeth Chase, the daughter of the goddess of wisdom Athena. Annabeth is a very smart girl who is also very skilled in combat and is a bit cold especially towards Percy when they first meet. Clarissa La Rue, daughter of Ares, is described as a bigger girl who is a bully. She has a hard edge to her but it is mostly because she tries so desperately to be accepted by her father the god of war. Luke Castellan, son of Hermes, who is regarded as the resident badass of the camp. He is the unquestioned best fighter and he takes a liking to Percy almost immediately. He trains Percy how to fight and also explains to Percy how all demigods are alike, as they all have been abandoned by their godly parents, or at least feel that way while it is not true. It is revealed later on in the book that this is one reason Luke betrays Percy as he is revealed to be the Lightning Thief as he was working under Kronos' order. Kronos was the Titan Lord, the father of the big three who was overthrown by the combined forces of his children and banished the depths of Tartarus. (Just like in actual Greek mythology)

While the book was intended for a younger audience I loved it, it may just be as simple as the fact that I love Greek mythology but I found the characters interesting and the plot flowed very nicely. I heard about this series because of the film that was released in early 2010 and when I saw the film i felt that there was more to the story. The film at the time before reading the book, i thought was good, but after reading the book I was extremely upset. Kronos was never mentioned in the film, and Ares never appeared while he had a big part in the book. He even had a fight with Percy in Los Angeles. I know its widely known that movies that are adapted from books that the books are always indeed better...but it doesn't stop me from still wishing the movie could get it right.

You could say that the main problem with the film was in it's casting but that would not be enough. In the book Percy, Annabeth and Grover were all around 12 years old. While in the movie they are older. If they were planning to make this series into just that they may have just ruined it early on (even though they have a confirmed sequel on the way). A big plot point in the books involves Percy's 16th birthday, while in the movie he is portrayed to be around the age of 16. I place that blame mostly on the writers of the script and place the rest of the blame of the movie on the writers as a majority of the film was nothing like the book, at least some of the better parts. The missing fight between Ares and Percy, Clarisse being absent from the film. Most of all the most bothersome part is Luke. While i feel like the actor Jake Abel did a very good job with what little he had to go on it boggles my mind how they did not add in the fact that he acted the way he did because he was working with Kronos to overthrow Olympus. Instead they leave you just assuming he was some whiny brat who just wanted to see the world crumble because he had daddy issues.

Going back to the subject of acting, I found Logan Lerman serviceable in the role of Percy Jackson but not at all great even when you do look past the age difference. Brandon T. Jackson did a good job in the role of Grover Underwood and served mostly as the comic relief even with some overly corny lines. Alexandra Daddario, a relatively unknown actress up till now, seemed out of place mostly because she seemed older then Logan Lerman. She did do a good job however of being cold...but I don't know actually she may have just been that bad of an actress. She never seemed to change emotions throughout the movie.

Pierce Brosnan plays Chiron the trainer of the demigods in Camp Half Blood and does a good job grounding the film somewhat. I also liked the fact that Sean Bean was in the film as well (mostly because it made me think of GoldenEye, Bond and Trevelyan) and he did a good job portraying Zeus. He certainly seemed that most intimidating out of all the other gods in the film. Steve Coogan played the part of Hades and surprisingly well even though he looked like a wanna be Mick Jagger as Grover says in the film.

Overall while the film can be entertaining as it does have a few saving graces such as the Medusa scene,which is below, it is just disappointing to see that it missed on a few notes mostly on the script. I was not a fan of Chris Columbus the director either, and I did not like his Harry Potter films (he did the first two HP films) as well.

Brandon T. Jackson as Grover, Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson, and Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth Chase
Brandon T. Jackson as Grover, Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson, and Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth Chase


Sea of Monsters

It has been confirmed that Logan Lerman will be back in the role of Percy Jackson for the sequel, Sea of Monsters. The premise of the title is as follows:

"The son of Poseidon and his friends head into the Sea of Monsters to find the mythical Golden Fleece in order to save Camp Half-Blood."

In the book they fight Charybdis, Scylla and Sirens, look for the film sometime in 2012-2013 and with a new director, Thor Freudenthal.

Book or Movie

Which was better?

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    • Wavie profile image

      Wavie 2 years ago

      I don't think the biggest problem was the casting, I think it was how they completely changed the plot. Beware, here comes a list of my complaints:

      First of all in the movie the Gods are forbidden to contact their children because Poseidon wanted to stay on Earth with Percy and Sally, resulting in him neglecting his godly duties. I kinda liked that better than the gods simply being assholes. But it would prove too problematic for the rest of the series and that's also seen in the end of the movie where Poseidon has to ask Zeus permission to speak to Percy.

      Then there is the main plot, which was completely changed. If I remember correctly the quest was about finding Percy's mother, not finding the pearls, which I think they already had when they started their quest (been years since I read the first book). That's when they encounter Ares who is revealed to have stolen both Zeus's bolt and Hades's helm of darkness, which was why Hades kidnapped Percy's mom, because he wanted his helmet back, not because he wanted the bolt. And after Percy gave Hades the helmet back he released his mother. Hades is actually one of the most decent gods in my opinion but the movies made him a total dick.

      Then there's the absence of Mr. D in the first movie. And then there's Annabeth and Percy's flirting. That's what happens when you age up the characters. Luke stealing the bolt and trying to get it to Hades was a horrible plot, which made no sense. And Percy using Hermes's flying shoes? No, he can't because he can't be int he air and there was no mist.

    • Nickalooch profile image

      Nickalooch 4 years ago from Columbia, MD

      I always picture Tyson being a bit more monstrous though. You are right about Dionysus to.

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 4 years ago from New England

      You did very well on your first hub. Keep up the great work!

      Clarisse is the name of Ares daughter. :0)

      I am also happy that Dionysus has been casted in the movie of The Sea of Monsters. Curious about how Tyson will be acted out. :0)

      Have fun with book #3!

    • Nickalooch profile image

      Nickalooch 4 years ago from Columbia, MD

      Thank you for the comments! Really, this was my first article that I wrote on this site.

      I happy that Hermes is in the movie, but also happy that he is played by Nathan Fillion. I am also happy that Ares' daughter is in it now to, her name is escaping me though. I felt like the whole thing with Luke was annoying. The end of the lightning thief in the book was 10x better. I loved how that was done, whereas the movie...felt just off.

      I am currently on the third book.

    • Seafarer Mama profile image

      Karen A Szklany 4 years ago from New England

      Enjoyed reading your review of the movie adaptation of "The Lightning Thief." I agree that the book was much better than the movie. While the movie was entertaining, I was disappointed about how the director of the movie messed with the details. The fact that Ares confiscated the Lightning Bolt (and Hadies' helm of darkness) from Luke and gave it to Percy because he knew that Percy would bring it back to the right place is very important detail.

      I perused the web site related to "The Sea of Monsters" movie and noticed that Tantalus has not been casted. Tantalus was part of the comic relief of the story. Good to know that Hermes has been casted. Hope that the movie makers include "George" and "Martha" of his caduceus in the film...or we may just not see any more of them. George and Martha are the best (but don't tell Hermes I said that!).

      Keep writing these reviews. Have you read the entire series yet? I won't spoil it...but there are so many tragic aspects. Rick Riordan is such a strong writer and deserves to have his books adapted to film in a way that leaves his fans satisfied.

    • profile image

      Queen 6 years ago

      They should've done a remake before making the sequel. I know it's a lot to ask, but really...

    • Nickalooch profile image

      Nickalooch 6 years ago from Columbia, MD

      it just really bothers me how they are saying they are combining parts from other books. Thalia is in the sequel, so that's a step in the right direction though. New director and new writers is also another step forward lol.

    • YadiraE profile image

      YadiraE 6 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Maybe with the new director the movie would be better. Im hoping!! (Fingers crossed!)

    • Nickalooch profile image

      Nickalooch 6 years ago from Columbia, MD

      the sequel was confirmed i think a few weeks back. Columbus isn't directing and the have new writers for the script. Thor something is directing the movie, he was the guy that did Diary of a Whimpy Kid.

    • YadiraE profile image

      YadiraE 6 years ago from Puerto Rico

      What? There are making a sequel? Wow! I didn't think that would happen since the first movie was so bad.

    • sammyfiction profile image

      Sammy 6 years ago from Australia

      Ugh that sucks! They didn't leave the end of this movie very well... :/

    • Nickalooch profile image

      Nickalooch 6 years ago from Columbia, MD

      im not thrilled at all that they are making a sequel. they even said they are combining some other books into the sequel.

    • sammyfiction profile image

      Sammy 6 years ago from Australia

      I happen to agree with you on this one, I am frequently disappointed by movies that have gone off the trail that the book plots. I always try to keep an open mind, but I am always left wanting more. With Percy Jackson the movie you could plainly see that the movie was adapted from a book, and moved far too fast and skipped crucial interactions with the characters that made them act the way they did.

      Oh well. Still an entertaining watch though. :) Nice hub.


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