I watched Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief for the first time today. It’s a decent movie. The characters (and their actors) are cool, and I do enjoy the Greek mythology tied into modern day. I didn’t particularly find it suspenseful, and the denouement isn’t really fulfilling. And the Greek gods (especially Zeus and even Hades) are even more dickish for no good reason than usual. Still, I appreciate the fantasy aspects, probably thanks to a lot of Dungeons and Dragons I’ve been playing recently.
I haven’t read the novels, which of course I’m told expand upon certain plot points. While some changes I’ve heard of or read about from le wiki made for the movie (some I’ve heard make sense and others not so much), one I really enjoy is the characters paying a visit to the Parthenon. No, not the real one in Athens, but the world’s only life-sized replica located right in Nashville, TN. If this truly never happens within the entire book series, I like to think the writer facepalmed when the movie showed how much this makes sense.
Being a native Nashvillian, I do appreciate the city being featured, especially when it’s not because of country music. While none of the principal photography is actually shot locally (with none of the actors appearing outside and the interiors probably filmed on set), the secondary photography shot still looks nice and obviously shows that a crew visited Centennial Park (home to the Parthenon).
Comparisons to the Harry Potter franchise are unavoidable. Both star young characters (Percy and Harry) who are thrusted from the normal world into a magical one they belong to by an otherwise-unknown birthright. Both said characters are oddly famous/infamous without really having done anything (Percy framed for stealing Zeus’ lightning and Harry for surviving Voldemort). Both are spawned by book franchises I’ve never read and don’t really have any interest in doing so.
But will the Percy Jackson series have the strength of the Harry Potter franchise? Going off of the movies alone (again, no book experience), I’m doubtful. And the reason is in comparison to other fantasy franchise movie series like Harry Potter. Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief just ends too cleanly. The lightening thief is discovered and defeated and everything is all hunky-dory. There’s no sense of looming threat for foreboding future that hooks audiences into needing to see the rest of the franchise, and again from one of the differences from the book I hear, that’s actually a departure from the source material.
Assuming the next book in the series does get fully made into a movie (never a sure thing until principal photography starts), it lacks a plot hook to draw people in. In which case, it must rely on the strength of the characters and the world the first movie set up, which works for franchises like Pirates of the Caribbean (and all they had for source material was a theme park ride).