The Truth About Peter Johnson…uh, Percy Jackson

I’m convinced that the recently released “Lightning Thief” was written by Dionysus–the Demi-god loathing, ambivalent cretin who never gets Percy’s name right. Sure, the credits say “Joe Stillman”…but that’s got to be a pseudonym. It’s really Mr. D. The reason: The Lightning Thief could not be more off track from the book and poorly produced if Mr. D. had produced it himself.

So, I’ve come to the conclusion that we’ve been duped, that any of us who were awaiting this book to movie permutation, will have to keep waiting. So much is missing from the book, and so many things have been changed, that the movie most certainly is NOT “The LIghtning Thief.” For those of you who haven’t read the book, and since Harry Potter comparisons are inevitable, let me give you a comparison: let’s imagine that the first Harry Potter movie was missing 1. Draco Malfoy 2. Harry’s Lightning Scar and 3. Voldemort. That’s the movie that Dionysus, I mean Joe Stillman wrote, and  Chris Columbus produced, because Percy’s world is missing the exact equivalent of those Potter necessities.

The question I keep asking myself is “Why”…or “How” How could this movie be so off track? Potential answers:

1. The book is too long to fit into a 2 hour movie. That’s a good one usually, but here, it doesn’t apply. There were specific scenes that they unnecessarily altered. For example: There’s no reason Percy couldn’t have killed Ms. Dodds/The Kindly One in the beginning of the movie. Besides being true to the book, it would have been more entertaining than having Chiron give her a dirty look that scares her right out the window! And it only gets worse from there. The whole plot was completely distorted from the Nashville encounter with a Hydra  to the Pearls of Persephone. None of it is in the book…or any book for that matter.

2. Changes were because of acting needs/casting necessities. I bring this one up because the screenwriters, addressing concerns from movie goers on their story and actor choices, reassured audiences that it was for the best.  The actors, who were 4 or 5 years older than they were supposed to be, were chosen for their acting acumen, and, they promised, we would see that they really were “Percy, Annabeth, and Grover”. I have to disagree here. The acting was horrendous. There was NO character development, and they might as well have chosen people who were 12 because the older teens had no clue how to sell a scene or act in character (reciting lines isn’t acting).  Then again, I can’t fault them: the script was just bad. We’re talking “Titanic” bad. Dialogue randomly placed. Everything overstated. I kept having flashbacks to Leo DiCapprio and Kate Winslet onboard the Titanic. “Jack, this is wonderful.” “Yes Rose, it is.” “Jack, I love you!” “Rose, I love you too” “Jack” “Rose” “Jack” “Rose”…

With the abovementioned two potential reasons squashed…that leaves us with only one other reason why the movie diverges so much from the book, and that answer might be:

3. The movie producers/writers don’t care about the real fans. Humor me for a moment. Those of us who have actually read the Percy Jackson series are few. I’m serious. Check the Percy Jackson Facebook page. The same 3 people make comments. So, in stead of sticking to the book, which would have required apparently way too much effort for Chris and company,  they went with a dumbed down version that general moviegoers could get behind easily. There’s a marketing lesson here ladies and gentleman. Hit the widest market you can. Only problem: They missed the mark. Even if only a few of the non-readers go back and re-read the book (thus adding to our growing numbers of “duped” fans), the movie wasn’t just dumbed-down, it was dumb.

This takes us to the real TRUTH about the Percy Jackson movie, the reason for the change in the script, and the overall “duping” of its key audience:

4. The movie producers/writers don’t care about ANY moviegoers.Think I’m out of line? Humor me.Let’s say there never was a book series, and this was just a movie. What do you have? Trade in your “This isn’t like the book!” complaints, and instead you’ll get:

No character development. A Flat plot. And bad acting. This makes Twilight look Oscar-worthy. In fact, half way through the movie, I started asking myself, “wait, am I watching a blockbuster film, or a made for TV movie on a Saturday afternoon?” Unfortunately, I couldn’t help but think that it was the latter.

Bottom line: I’m still waiting for the Lightning Thief movie to be released. I hear it’s going to be good!

The Potter Plotline

Ok, it’s been a year since the official end of the Harry Potter craze…and sure, Jo Rowling and WB will do their best to keep it going with a theme park, and splitting the 7th movie into two movies (what will they call them, Harry Potter 7a and 7b?). But I’m wondering when the official “This is a Potter” Plotline reference will be made for the first time…you know, when someone says, this is another Harry Potter story. It’s akin to the reference to a story as a Dickens story, or something to that effect. The Potter plotline goes something like this: a little boy who has little to no value in society, is repressed, blah blah blah, discovers a secret power that makes him all of a sudden important, goes through the hard knocks to meet his destiny and succeed. Along the way, there are sacrifices, tragedy, but all adds up to make the hero of the story.

I guess you could say that that IS the Dickens plotline, but that totally destroys my point, so I’ll move on…pretend I didn’t mention that.

I bring this up because I’m starting to find that a lot of books follow the Potter plotline. The Bartimaeus trilogy is one example, but it would be unfair to limit that great book series in that way (plus, the trilogy is more about power than it is about a young boy who becomes something great).

Actually, a recent book that I started reading and had to put down is what inspired this tangent…Rick Riordan’s Lightning Thief. The Indie Girl and I checked this one out on the recommendation of friends who said it was one of the best books they had read. In short, we only got through the first fourth of the book before we were quickly tired by it…it’s all about a boy who’s labeled a trouble maker who eventually finds out that he is a hero in waiting and he goes to a summer camp to learn skills. It’s a carbon copy of the Potter Plotline, only it’s set against real life Greek Mythology, rather than magicians and witches.

In short, I think it’s been fantastic that Jo Rowling’s work has inspired worldwide reading…I’m just concerned that it’s also inspired worldwide copying and pasting…expanding the story to limitless backgrounds and situations.