It’s that time again: Movie Monday! Where I discuss books that have been adapted into movies and whether or not those adaptations did the books justice.
So far, I’ve only done review of adaptations where they did an excellent job, or at least as good of a job you can do when turning hundreds of pages of words into a 90 minute film.
I loved every book in the Percy Jackson series, and the series that followed, The Heroes of Olympus. However, these movies were a disaster. The author of the series, Rick Riordan, has expressed his disdain for the way they made the movies. Usually when I discuss an adaptation, I describe the differences between the books and film, but there is so much wrong with the films, pointing out each difference would be enough to fill an entire book in itself. To me the only thing the creators of the movie got right was casting Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson. He was a great choice, and to me, was exactly how I imagined Percy when reading the books. I also liked the casting of Brandon T. Jackson as Grover, because it was nice to add some diversity in the cast. Alexandra Daddario is a very talented actress, but wasn’t at all the Annabeth I expected. It seemed as if they blended the characters of Annabeth and Clarice into one character in the first movie, The Lightning Thief, then added Clarice and softened up Annabeth’s demeanor in the second movie The Sea Of Monsters. Annabeth is a strong character in her own right, but the filmmakers only used her as tool that served Percy’s storyline instead of giving her any kind of a story of her own, which was a waste of Alexandra Daddario’s talent and their decision to subdue Annabeth’s character robbed the films of a good storyline to explore.
The Lightning Thief was a bit closer to the book’s story, but The Sea Of Monsters added in storylines from other books in the series that were not explored or explained well enough for those who saw the movies without reading the books first to be able to fully understand their significance. A third film has been teased, but Logan Lerman was recently asked if he thought there would be another Percy Jackson movie and he said no. Logan Lerman’s films after Percy Jackson, such as his role as Charlie in The Perks of Being A WallFlower, and Norman in the WWII film Fury have gained him critical acclaim. His most recent film Indignation, based on the Philip Roth novel, has garnered him the best reviews of his career thus far. It is obvious that he is a brilliant actor, arguably one of the best of his generation, and he may not want to return to the Percy Jackson films due to their low critical opinion, as well as the fans’ very vocal negative response to them.
Are they entertaining films? Sure, if you’ve never read the books. The actors did the best with what they were given, and I won’t lie, I own both of them and enjoy watching them. They just are not a good representation of the wonderful world of Demigods and mythical monsters that Rick Riordan created that is both fun and educational to get lost in. Rick Riordan gave his readers a cast of characters that have interesting back stories and journeys throughout his series, as well as an amazing world based on greek mythology and was clever enough to make it a modern tale, weaving mythology and reality in an incredibly unique way. This is unfortunately an instance when you find yourself telling people not to judge the books on the movies they are loosely based on. I think the filmmakers had noble intentions and wanted to create a good movie, but their continued deviation from the source material left fans wondering why they’d trade the storylines that made the books so engrossing for storylines that were nowhere near as entertaining. The changes would make much more sense if they were due to not being able to depict scenes in the book due to them being impractical, but that clearly wasn’t the case.
I’m just glad that we have Rick Riordan to continue entertaining us with tales of the magical world of Percy and the rest of the demigods in book form. I’m also thankful to the filmmakers for introducing me to Logan Lerman as an actor, because he’s brilliant and since the Percy films I’ve followed his career and he continues to amaze me with the choices he makes regarding the roles he takes and the movies he chooses to be a part of. I’m fan-girling shamelessly right now, but he is an adorable and incredibly talented actor and I look forward to seeing what comes next for him. Alexandra Daddario, the actress who played Annabeth, is also a fantastic actor. Her role on True Detective season one, and role in the film San Andreas proved her talent, and her role in the much anticipated Baywatch reboot should be fun to watch. If nothing else, I’m glad these movies exist so they could launch the careers of two great actors.
In closing: read the books. Watch the movies and take them for what they are.
Coming up next: my review of The Girls by Emma Cline (this one is taking me longer than usual because I want to make sure to get it right) and of course my interview with best-selling author Ann Brashares, and a review of her new book The Whole Thing Together.