Friday, March 12, 2010

Why Must They Spoil Mythology With Mushy Talk?

My kids and I are big fans of mythology and adventurous kids books, and really enjoyed the first two books in the Percy Jackson series. So, when wondering what to do for their Great-Grandmother's 81st birthday a few weeks ago, they decided to take her to see the movie The Lightning Thief.

Granted, it's a bit of an action packed movie full of mythological monsters for a woman her age, but since she loved Harry Potter, the kids thought she'd like this story too.
We had read the first book in the series about a year ago, which is a good amount of time. I hate when I read a book right before a movie comes out and then I'm totally disappointed in the way the film makers butchered the story. After a year, I can usually just enjoy the movie without too many comparisons.

I did enjoy the movie, but there were a few differences that were hard not to notice- like the fact that the main character in the book, Percy, was supposed to be in 6th grade, and yet the movie featured a high school age kid. Apparently, the movie makers must not be planning on doing movies for all the books in the series because that actor is going to be way to old for it. My 12 year old was rather annoyed with the fact that she was expecting an adventure movie about kids her age, but they turned it into a teen movie. Then, the whole google eyes, mushy talk with the character of Annabelle started, which had both of my little cynical children rolling their eyes, and making sarcastic comments. Budding romance was definitely not part of the book.

We were half way through reading the second book in the series, The Sea of Monsters, when we went to the movie, and it did bring up the fact that in addition to changing relationships, aging the characters, and leaving out important details, they also left out a few key people. The fact that the character of Luke wasn't working alone with his evil plot would probably be important if they planning on going any further with the series in theaters, but again, I'm guessing they aren't.

The books sparked our interest in mythology, and had us checking out other books, movies and websites to learn more about the ancient stories of the gods. The movie didn't have that effect, but it did spark some interesting discussions on changing art to make it popular, who gets to decide what "popular" is, and the concept of owning and selling "rights" to a story. For what it was- a mainstream fantasy / action movie, it was fun, but my 12 year old still can't see why they have to try to make a perfectly good mythological story into a romantic one.

My 9 year old loved the it anyway, despite the attempts at teen romance (although he thought it was pretty silly too.) Since he had generously sprung for the big day out with his own money, I tried not to point out any bad acting, or focus on what was lacking. He didn't remember much of the book, and scary monsters and cool special effects are enough to make him happy. It definitely had plenty of those. I saw poor Great Grandma covering her eyes a few times. I expected some nightmares, and we did have a few nights of weird dreams at our house after wards. Fortunately, none were really frightening. I'm just hoping their Great Grandmother is sleeping OK after her birthday date.