The Percy Jackson Movie Is a Flaming Dumpster Fire

By Gigi L.

I know that I am VERY late to this party. The movie came out in 2010. Although it has seemingly disappeared from the media spotlight, I still want to express my deep concern for the writers of this movie. Seriously, are they okay?

Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief is a movie adaptation of the first Percy Jackson book written by Rick Riordan. Desperately trying to make a successful franchise, Disney began working on the project with Logan Lerman as the main character, Percy Jackson. On Feb. 12, 2010, Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief was released, and fans were not too pleased. One viewer posted a Google review saying, “I would rather play poker with Gabe himself than watch this movie. I would go to Tartarus for 24 hrs. I would be Hades’ personal assistant. Because they really messed up this movie.” Another angry fan wrote, “This movie… is the WORST book-to-movie adaptation ever. It’s disappointing in every way.” It was so terrible that the film received a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes and just 3 out of 5 stars on an average audience review. Ok, the movie is bad. But why is it bad? Let’s break down exactly why Percy Jackson fans were hitting their heads against the wall when this atrocity came out.

Movie poster for Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, 2010

There are a lot of things that contribute to making a “bad” movie: the acting, the effects, the costumes, etc. With this movie, however, I really question the writers. I am genuinely astonished that this movie actually exists. Films have to go through rows and rows of executives and producers before they get the corporate thumbs-up. The fact that hundreds of people looked at the script and said, “Yeah, this is great,” really says a lot about human intelligence. In no way, shape, or form am I trying to say the writers are untalented; they are just more talented than this movie demonstrates. 

First of all, there is almost nothing even remotely similar between the book and the movie. It is true that when you are making a movie adaptation of a book, you have to change some stuff. Take 2001’s Harry Potter, for example. The writers altered a few things, but overall, it was not terrible. They kept all the main points and wrote the script in a clever and articulate way. The Percy Jackson writers just did not care. I will bet you ten thousand dollars that his movie was written at 2:00 in the morning when everyone was sleep deprived and the only thing keeping their bodies functioning was a room-temperature frappuccino. Nothing makes sense.

The very first scene in the movie starts out with Poseidon getting out of the ocean and walking to meet his brother, Zeus. Zeus is a bit cranky because his big, fancy lightning bolt was stolen. Naturally, Zeus suspects Poseidon’s son, Percy Jackson. Because, why not? The movie does not do a very good job of explaining why, so if you want to know, read the book. Zeus tells Poseidon that Percy has until the summer solstice (June 21) to return the bolt to him or else he will, like, destroy the world or something. Then, Zeus blows up a wall and storms out like a twelve-year-old girl. Already, there are some problems. In the first few minutes of a film, there is usually a scene that sets up the story, the characters, and sometimes the main problem. While the scene did all of this, it was done very sloppily. 

Moving on to a later scene, Percy and his class are at what seems to be a history museum with their teacher, Mr. Brunner. Mr. Brunner is babbling about Greek mythology. Then, in the middle of the lesson, a teacher named Mrs. Dodds pulls Percy out to “speak with him.” Then, they go into some sort of storage room. You’ll never guess what happens next. Really, it’s a doozy. Mrs. Dodds jumps on top of a shelf and transforms into a shriveled, raisin-looking bat creature called a Fury. She keeps asking Percy to give her the lightning bolt, but Percy obviously does not know what she’s talking about. Then, Mr. Brunner and Grover come in and Mrs. Dodds/raisin-bat-thing smashes a window and flies away. This scene is EXTREMELY poorly done. First off, it is very confusing. Why did she turn into a bat creature? Why is she asking for the lightning bolt? Also, why should we care? Mrs. Dodds is not really an important character. She was only seen in one scene previous to this one, so it’s not like her sudden transformation into an ugly hairless rat is a huge, ground-breaking twist. It would be kind of like if a random professor that nobody cares about from Harry Potter turned into a monster ten minutes into the movie. Weird.

   A Fury from Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief, 2010

I am not going to go through every scene because that would take ten thousand years, but I do want to talk about one more thing. Spoiler warning, so if you have not read the book and/or want to watch the movie, the following information will ruin some plot points for you. 

So, the main villain in the book is Ares, the god of war. He is a twist villain, meaning he is not revealed to be the actual bad guy until the end where the big fight scene takes place. At the very end of the book, there is another giant twist. One of Percy’s friends, Luke, is revealed to be working with Ares and to have stolen Zeus’ special lightning bolt. However, in the movie, Ares does not even exist, and Luke is the big boss bad guy. This decision was probably the worst choice the writers made. Luke was an awful main villain; his motive was weak, and he sounded like a little kid playing supervillain. I could understand if they wanted to switch up some things, but there are other ways to do that than take out the MAIN VILLAIN. That would be as if they took Voldemort out of Harry Potter and just made Professor Quirrel the criminal mastermind. Overall, the Percy Jackson movie is an embarrassment to the film industry. It was sloppy, rushed, and the plot made no sense. Why this movie got the “okay” will probably forever be a mystery. In the meantime, I think we should just offer up some goat sacrifices and pray to the gods that the 2023 Disney+ series will not be as bad.