“Percy Jackson & the Olympians,” originally written by Rick Riordan, was made into a movie by directors Thor Freudenthal and Chris Columbus in 2013. Photo from TBIvision.com.
Greek mythology is fascinating but often difficult to read in its original form. Within the context of Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson” series, we had access to some of the greatest stories of all time in a form that we could understand at 8 years old.
I think that I speak for all 2000s kids when I say that the “Percy Jackson” movies were a huge letdown.
Right off the bat, the actors playing the characters were way older than the 12-year-olds they were in the book. Logan Lerman, who played Percy, was 18; Alexandra Daddario as Annabeth was 22; and Brandon T. Jackson as Grover was 24, though his character was meant to be a little older. I think that a lot of the appeal for younger readers is that the heroes are their age, and 10-year-old me was confused when I saw adults playing the characters I thought could have been my friends.
Only two of the original books were adapted into movies, presumably because of how poorly they were received. The second movie (“Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters”) didn’t follow the book enough for me to be able to consider it an adaptation, but it also wasn’t original enough to be considered its own separate entity. The movies were so bad that Riordan distanced himself from them “for [his] own peace of mind,” as he said on his website.
The books, on the other hand, are fantastic. They’re magical. I remember being a little kid and reading them from cover-to-cover over and over again. And as bad as the movies were, I do have to cut them a little bit of slack – I don’t think that they ever could have lived up to what I imagined in my head. The adventures of Percy and his friends were a huge part of my life and to this day I still love reading the books.
Riordan originally wrote the character of Percy, who has ADHD and dyslexia, for his son who struggled with the same things. While the original series was somewhat lacking in terms of diversity beyond that, the spinoff series like “The Kane Chronicles” and “Heroes of Olympus” are full of actually developed, complex characters from a diverse variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds and different genders and sexualities. I admittedly haven’t read most of the spinoffs, but they’re certainly on my list.
I have to rate the original novels a 10 out of 10. The movies were so bad I couldn’t even bring myself to watch them again for this review – I watched the CinemaSins recaps instead. I’d give them a generous 4.5/10. Hopefully, the upcoming Disney+ television series remake will be better than the films. With Riordan fully on board and promising something better, I believe that it will be.