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.

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30 Responses

  1. savanna says:

    i tottly agree. they left out the whole bathrom seen with clarrise and the toilets. wasent he put in the cabin hermes with all the other campers?

  2. sophia says:

    ya. he was. when the toilets exploded on Clarrise he found out he was the son of Posiden. Also the part with Ares and the amusement park

  3. Austin says:

    Another crucial thing they left out of the movie was the pine tree of Thalia ( which if you have read all of the books you know is an important thing to know about)

  4. Alicia says:

    They had a gate instead of Thalia’s pine tree, which is just ridiculous and how hard would it have been to include a tree?

    Percy should have stayed in the Hermes cabin for a while. He had to understand what if felt like to be stuffed in there, sleeping on the floor and stuff because your parent won’t claim you.

    The flying shoes should have been cursed to drag them into Tartarus.

    The amusement park. Especially Annabeth’s line about “me go with you in the ‘tunnel of love’?”

    The pearls had nothing to do with Persephone. They were a gift from Poseidon.

    Why no Backbiter?

    Luke dies? And disintegrates like a monster? Since when? Since the movie. Wait, he was supposed to nearly defeat Percy at Camp Half Blood and then escape! I guess that means no sequel, because how will Cronos return now? And the trident made of water was just pathetic.

    They left out the titans. I mean, come on! Can you say central to the series?

  5. Alicia says:

    Oh, and also, the whole pact of the big 3 was ignored. They just said it was very rare. And the gods not comunicating with their kids thing was stupid, and Luke did meet his father, it was a really creepy flashback scene in Last Olympian.

  6. PercyJackson says:

    The book and the movie were different, like the itouch instead of a mirror and no sign of clarisse, and the ending should have been a cliff hangerm so we could look forward to a sequel but it looks like there isnt going to be one. Still the movie was good :D.

  7. Anonymous says:

    dont forget annebeth is blonde in the book the messed up on that

  8. Dukeboy15 says:

    The river Styx was messed up. The gods appeared in there true forms in front of mortals. Annabeth and Percy liked each other. That whole scene with the parthanon was stupid. The hydra only shows up in the next book! Grover never wore a hat. The campers always wore armor instead of orange t’s. They are supposed to be on long island sound! The lotus casino was screwed up. The entrance to the underworld is not under the Hollywood sign! Grover does not stay in the underworld. Mrs. Jackson does. Persephone is not mentioned until the last book but yet she is in it. The master bolt was supposed to be hidden in a backpack! Ther were multiple centuars but only one satyr at the camp!!
    This movie is terrible. I hope there is a remake.

  9. Anonymous says:

    To all of you people who think this is terrible, it’s really not. From the point of view of somebody who hasn’t read the whole thing, it was pretty decent. The only parts that were truly important to be left out if there is a sequel is the Prophecy and Luke teaming up with Cronos. Major differences like where the lightning was located, Grover staying behind instead, and him getting bullied during his first days do not have a big impact on what’s to come.

  10. Joker says:

    it was like the movie director read the cliff notes and not the book. not sure where some of the ideas came from but they are going to have to remake the movie if they continue to do the other books. the fact that Hades never wanted a war and had his Helm of Darkness stolen with the lightning bolt was forgotten. Cerbrus was never there hellhounds yes but skipped the three-headed dog. there was major diffences so my advice is read the books or watch the movie, but not both. the books are much better.

  11. Miranda says:

    They didn’t have the saint Louis arch scene, and annabeth was supposed to be on his side in capture the flag. And what happened to Nancy bobofit?

  12. Amanda says:

    I have to say the only relevant thing in the movie to the book was the names and places. I mean COME ON. Annabeth was blond. They didn’t have to go on a mission to get the pearls, Poseidon’s nymph or whatever gives them to Percy, Luke isn’t the one telling them what they need to do or where to go and quite frankly, I was looking forward to the Semi scene where they ride in the trailer with the mistreated animals. This movie seems to have been made by someone who liked the idea but had a different way of things happening in mind instead of what the book had in it.

  13. Amanda Duff says:

    I was so angry when i saw who was casted in the book they are suposed to be like 12 and in the movie you can tell they are around sixteen and thats the age they are suposed to be in the last book if they try to go on with the movies get a beter director that will follow the book not ignor it

  14. RyGuy2011 says:

    WOW…. just so all you ppl know. the movie did quite well…. and your tearing down the director… well guess what?! Rick, the author of the book worked very closely with the director and was quite happy with the movies turn out… soooo pull your heads out your butts and enjoy both the book and the movie

    • admin says:

      RyGuy, thanks for your comment. The main discussion point of the article were the differences between the book and the movie. I would certainly like to see the second book in the series as a movie, but have not heard any news in that regard. The movie did “ok”, with IMDB stating the box office gross at $89,000,000 when the movie costs $95,000,000. I’m sure DVD Sales will pick that up a bit.

  15. Kat says:

    The movie was okay but if Rick was working with the director i don’t know what they were thinking. the movie and the book are only loosely tied together but it is better than the adaptation of Eragon. Although leaving out Cronos is very very hard to understand why they would do that and also Luke being defeated at the end of the movie. Without those two things it would be very very hard to do a sequel but at least they could maybe do flashbacks but still. They could have done a lot better. I love the series that i wouldn’t have minded at all if it were a little longer if it were more accurate and there is in my opinion a clear difference between artistic licensing and plain leaving out crucial information.

  16. Anonymous says:

    -actors are too old
    – Annabeth is suppose to have blonde hair
    -percy and his mom were suppose to go to a beachhouse and Grover was suppose to show up in the middle of the night, then they were suppose to get struck by lightning and they wrecked in a ditch, then they got to the top of half blood hill and the Minotaur got percys mom and she dissenigrated, then Percy defeated the Minotaur, and he woke up in halfblood camp.
    – there wasn’t even a halfblood hill
    – thalias tree wasn’t mentioned
    – Annabeth, Grover and percys quest was to find zeus’ lighting bolt
    – the pearls were a gift from a water spirit
    – they were suppose to crash in a bus in the beginning of the quest, and the three fates were suppose to be on the bus
    – they were suppose to randomly fing Auntie Ems garden gnome shop, then go to the gateway arch in Missouri and fight Echidna, then they go to the lotus hotel and then they go to the crab guys mattress shop and then they go to the place to get to the underworld. Then they go in the underworld and they see Cerberus and then they go to the pit with Tartarus to save Grover with his cursed flying shoes. Percy then realizes his backpack is heavy because of the bolt.

    The movie doesn’t follow any of this at all.. They need a remake.

  17. Anonymous says:

    why is annabeth a brunette?

  18. Anonymous says:

    I would have probably like the movie better if I hadn’t read the book, because when people read the book they already have a picture in there mind on how the characters, scenes, and plot should be like, and the director has to factor in that most people won’t have read the book, what will sell, and how to keep everything in a time limit, so you can’t really blame anyone that the movie never turns out exactly like the book.

  19. Joelle says:

    Major differences:
    NO Ares or Clarisse
    NO mention of Titans
    Chiron is supposed to be the only centaur there, everyone else is a Party Pony
    Yancy is a boarding school
    NO going to Missouri
    Going to Tenessee
    Posiedon helps Percy, not Persephone
    NO charmed fly shoes to go to Tartarus
    Bolt in backpack
    Lotus Casino is all wrong- they don’t have to eat flowers to stay there
    supposed to be the ONLY people in Auntie Em’s
    SNACK BAR in Auntie Em’s
    all THREE FURIES on bus on way
    Bus breaks down and they run to Auntie Em’s, only stopping cause they are hungry

    Those are just a few. i think we are in need of a remake

    • juan pablo says:

      In the book, when they go to the underworld,Percy’s mom stays there, not grover and Percy tells zeuz to free her

  20. blah blah says:

    Percy didn’t even fight the minotaur! There was MUCH MORE action in the books!!! The movie is OK, but could have been SO MUCH better had it followed the book’s storyline. They didn’t even mention Hades’ helm of darkness and Ares wasn’t even there! Whatever happened to the whole mechanical spider attack? Like I said… NO ACTION! I think there should DEFINITELY be a remake, because the last book has 16 year olds, but if they go on like this, the last movie will have 21 year old kids… which is NOT what any reader has in mind!

  21. Anonymous says:

    for ryguy:
    first of all it says in Rick Riordan’s website that he did NOT work with the director in the movie he just visited the set and met the actors. Also he didnt even see the movie because he said it would change his point of view for future books!
    so do some research before you do some stupid comment!!!

  22. ME says:

    Yeah person above me is right, Rick did not work with the director and he didnt see the movie because he thinks it will change his view of his characters,
    Stop giving out false information.

  23. hadesrocks says:

    the movie was was a major dissapointment. even if i didn’t read the book I would still think it was horridable and that is saying something. they totally need a remake because if they don’t there is no way they can finish the rest of the books with out it getting so bad it’s funny.

  24. Daniel aka Xionen says:

    just finished reading the book and start watching the movie. decent actors. but seems like they are missing the best part in every movie. the part where the hero dont know who or what he is and then finds out by something amazing. like the battle with Ares daugther. would be an awesome scene.

  1. April 18, 2011

    How is The Lightning Thief different as a movie, vs. the book?…

    I found the list below and I can verify that it is accurate.

    In general the movie did not showcase the gods as much as it should have. I was most disappointed that Ares didn’t make an appearance in the movie. There is so much potential for the go…

  2. January 9, 2013

    […] Titan’s Curse, The Battle of the Labyrinth and The Last Olympian. There is also the movie version of the first book out, with the second due in August of this year (with Nathan Fillion cast as […]

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