The Lightning Thief – Movie vs. Book
The movie The Lightning Thief, has excellent special effects (Hades in the fire and looking like an old rock musician is well done) and tells the story of Percy Jackson, half human, half Olympian God. Several easily recognized actors play Olympian roles (Uma Thurman is enjoyable as Medusa, Pierce Brosnan with a half-horse body at Chiron, Sean Bean (Boromir from Lord of the Rings and Odysseus in Try) plays Zeus), and, except for the likeness of Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) to my son’s friend Ryan and a few occasions of wooden acting, the kid’s parts (Percy, Annabeth, Grover) were well cast.
As with most, we noted several major differences in the movie versus Rick Riordan’s first novel in the Percy Jackson series. Since the movie was already two hours, one would assume they were cut for time. But there were also pieces that were left out that are needed if the next book in the series is turned into a movie. Without some of these vital scenes, those who have not read the books would surely struggle to make sense of subsequent films. Even the most academic audience member, who might usually achieve good results from many online colleges and universities, would struggle if they were tested on an adaptation of the second book, having not read the first. This is because, although the film does not come across as being unclear on its own, the changes and omissions to the plot are often details which are of particular significance. This is certainly true when looking at the details within the context of the Percy Jackson series as a whole. Below I have listed a number of examples which may lead to future difficulties in continuity. Slight spoilers below if you haven’t read The Lightning Thief book:
- Little to no mention of the Titans (except for a minor one in the very beginning);
- In the book, Percy does not find out which God is his father until after being in Camp Half-Blood for a while; in the movie, everyone already knows;
- No appearance in the movie by Ares, God of War;
- No appearance or mention of Clarisse, daughter of Ares;
- No appearance of Dionysus, who in the book runs Camp Half-Blood;
- In the book, the quest has to be approved or given by the Oracle who is a mummy looking creature in the attic at Camp Half-Blood; in the movie, Percy decides to go rescue his mother from the Underworld;
- In the book, the quest is for Percy to find Zeus’ stolen Lightning Bolt; in the movie, there is no “heroes quest”;
- In the end, the movies shows Luke acting alone against the Gods, without anyone else in on the conspiracy to steal Zeus’ Lightning Bolt.
If they decide to go forward with adapting the second book, one would assume they could fill in a lot of these holes in flashbacks, but I guess that depends on how the movie does at the box office.