Sunday, February 14, 2010

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

I've been rather negligent of even the basic booknotes on this blog of late, but I'm going to attempt to catch up by piecing together some of the notes on the Percy Jackson books and movie that I've been discussing with others on Facebook.

I just finished the 5th and final book in the series (at least the first series - there's a hint that other series may be in store) a few days ago and saw the movie on opening night.

First, here are some notes on the books that I wrote in response to a question from a friend:

The books are a little tricky in spots (because they are Greek myths after all), but I think they're okay for 12 and up - maybe younger depending... John and I and Ria have all read and talked about the first five books - and I recently read D'Aulaire aloud to all of the kids (the books are less weird and much more enjoyable if you're familiar with the myths first), so now John is starting to read Percy Jackson aloud to the family. Terri (age 12) is pushing ahead on her own.

There are a few little things that made me cringe (not all that nuts about the oracle thing, for example, particularly in the last book) but liked them on the whole. There are a number of little things that may be bothersomely sensitive to particular families or particular children, but on the whole there were more things that I liked than didn't like - and some of these were *really* great.

Next the movie:

I give the movie two thumbs down. It takes the prize as the worst adaptation of a book that I've ever seen - and I usually enjoy adaptations, even if they're a bit off. This was a totally different story.

I found the books to be a rather fun cross between Greek Mythology and the Phantom Tollbooth (or something like that). Not perfect, but clever and thoughtful in many ways. The "Phantom Tollbooth" aspect was completely lost in the movie which instead went for more of a "Clash of the Titans" feel.

Basically, the movie takes the story way too seriously.

By the way, Decent Films has a pretty good review of the movie here. It's really too bad, because many of the criticisms that apply to the movie don't apply to the books.

I'm posting more details about the movie in the comments box. Don't read it if you want to avoid spoilers!!!


Love2Learn Mom said...

Just to give you an idea, the following events, locations and characters don't even show up in the movie: Clarisse (!), Ares (!!), Kronos (!!!), the houses at camp, parental determinations, the diner, the mattress store, the waterpark and almost all modern caricatures of the gods. Charon was pretty cool, but was more "realistic" with none of the fun of the book and his boat didn't cross a river, it sort of floated through the "sky".

Also, the main characters look like they're 16 or 17 (and the situations are more at that age level - including some crude language and suggestive moments that were not in the book), and worse yet, Annabeth seems to be a combination of Clarisse and herself (with dark brown hair and brilliant blue eyes - wrong, wrong, wrong!) and comes across as Xena the Warrior Princess.

On the other hand, Grover was pretty cool.

Love2Learn Mom said...

Oh right, and I forgot in my initial post. There's no oracle and no prophecy.

Deb said...

I agree with you, the movie was totally disappointing. It had so much promise, the books have been really enjoyable. Not timeless, but they are a great idea, and at least in my home have raised interest in Greek myths to a new level.