Yesterday, I went to see the Percy Jackson movie. I like the book series because it's funny, and it's heavily-based on Greek/Roman mythology. I was a Greek and Latin major, so I know most of the myths, including some of the more obscure ones, like the time Achilles tried to get out of fighting in the Trojan War by dressing up like a girl (fun story, by the way).
The movie is getting panned as a lame-o Harry Potter knock-off, so let me set the record straight:
This is a totally awesome movie.
I didn't notice any blatant Harry Potter ripoffs in this movie. Actually, you know what? I say it's better than the last Harry Potter flick. The plot was better, the pacing was superb, and the special effects were like 20 times cool. Really great stuff.
I'm not a big fan of special effects, because it feels like there are too many movies with big, showy (and totally unnecessary) special effects. I'm not objecting to cool special effects, but if CGI-showoffery is the main selling point of a film, that's a sign the movie is worth skipping. Besides, ten years from now, all those special effects-based movies will look really bad.
Fortunately, most of the special effects in the Percy Jackson film work well, without being showoffy. Medusa looks awesome. I mean, man did she look creepy. That's probably the best Medusa I've ever seen, and all the special effects were on that high-quality level.
I think what I enjoyed the most about the film were the scenes where Percy walked through camp, and you could see people doing things in the background. I was all, "Cool! Those are Hephaestus people doing smith work!" and "Apollonian archers!" and "Are those Demeter girls?" I enjoy little things like that which probably make no sense to non-Greek students.
My cousin and I got in an argument about that before the movie, because he thinks they screwed up Annabeth's eyes. In the book, her eyes are gray. That's a reference to Athena, who Homer describes as having gray, owl eyes. I argued that nobody would get the reference, because it's too obscure. Even classicists don't quite understand it; our best guess is that it's because owls are wise, and she's the goddess of wisdom. (The other good guess is that the gray owl eyes weren't in the original work, but Athenians added that in hundreds of years later, because her local temple at Athens was infested with owls). The movie gives her fancy owl eyes, instead of gray eyes. It works just as well, and it makes more sense.
Also, Grover. Cousin Jack was upset about the possibility of the movie ruining Grover. I maintain that this is a near-impossible feat, because Grover is a really whiny, annoying character in the books. You'd have to work really hard to make him worse. Seriously, if Grover was played by Grover from Sesame Street in the movie, it'd be a step up from the books.
That's why I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Grover in this movie is actually a really good character. He was cool, and he played the buddy role well. It was a major step up to change Grover from "kid Percy hangs out with because he feels bad that Grover has no friends" to Percy's buddy, so kudos to whoever made that decision.
They changed the plot somewhat, but I'm not complaining, because the new plot really helped set the pacing for the film. The pacing was excellent, and you could really easily tell when one sequence was over and the next one was starting. I'm not even the least bit upset that they cut out two different sequences in the book and replaced them with the not-in-the-book hydra sequence. It worked well, looked good, and my inner classicist LOVES the fact that they built a life-size Parthenon replica.
All in all, it's a great movie, and I loved it. In fact, I might have to do the unthinkable and see the movie in theaters twice, to help the film make enough money to justify a movie adaptation of the second Percy Jackson book. I'm not sure if I can live through the 90 minutes of previews again, but I'll have to risk it.