My eleven-year-old daughter had been immensely excited -- jump-up-and-down excited -- to see the film version of The Lightning Thief, because she adores the Percy Jackson series. Ever since we saw the first teaser trailer months ago, she was talking about how she couldn't wait for the movie to come out. So her expectations were fairly high.
Well, we finally went to see it last weekend. I read the book some time ago, but even though it wasn't terribly fresh in my mind, I could see there were some fairly enormous differences between the book and the movie. I wasn't particularly thrilled with some of the changes I noticed. But I've been through this so many times - only rarely does a movie hold up well to the book in my experience, so I guess I'm used to it. But this feeling of betrayal and disappointment is new to my daughter, and I guess she wasn't expecting it. She wasn't just disappointed. She was furious.
"They cut out Mr. D! Mr. D! What is Camp Halfblood without Mr. D?" she exclaimed. They also cut out Percy's nemesis, Ares' daughter Clarisse and her cronies, which meant no toilet water scene, something I gather she'd been looking forward to seeing on the big screen.
"They cut out all the best parts!" she said with disgust as we were walking back to the car. "And they put in their own blabber. It was awful!" I am still laughing inside about that - she hit the nail on the head. How many movies based on books would be vastly improved had they not added their "own blabber"?
When we got home, she started telling her father, who had wisely opted out of this experience, all about the movie. Tears actually came to her eyes as she tried to describe the breadth and depth of her disappointment in the movie. How wonderful, I thought, that she loves a book so very much that she feels this passionate about the way the movie tells the story. But I also felt so sorry for her disappointment.
I know it's unreasonable to expect that a film recreate exactly the story told in the book - but it certainly can recreate the spirit of the book, which I felt the Lord of the Rings movies as well as the Harry Potter movies and, most recently, The Fantastic Mr. Fox honestly attempted to do. I didn't hate the film - it was quite entertaining. Uma Thurman made a very charming Medusa, for one thing. Some departures from the plot of the novel are baffling to me. For example (minor spoiler), the big showdown at the end of the book is between Percy and Ares, the god of war. So naturally the reader is alarmed for Percy's welfare - he's going up against a god, after all, who specializes in combat. In the movie, though, he's up against the son of Hermes. Hmmm...son of Poseidon, one of the three most powerful Greek gods, against the son of Hermes, a minor deity in comparison? Should we even bother to watch this? Not quite the same, is it?
What about you? Have you seen the movie? Did you applaud the action/adventure fun or, like my daughter, were you disgusted with the added blabber? Do you have a favorite film adaptation of a favorite book? Or one that left you feeling angry and betrayed? Or maybe even a film that you enjoyed more than the book? I'd love to hear about it!