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Yesterday I took the gels to see Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief down at the local megamallcineplex.

As regular port-swillers will know, we had been looking forward to this for some time, as the gels are all enormous fans of the books by Rick Riordan on which the movie was based.

Well, apples and trees and all that, so I suppose you all know where this is heading: The gels thought the movie was terrible.  Indeed, the eldest spent the rest of the afternoon damning Chris Columbus, the director, to the lowest levels of Tartarus and has vowed to write an essay on how the screenplay mangles the book, to be read to her class at St. Marie of the Blessed Educational Method.

Ah, takes me back, this does, to the time when I was about 12 or so, too.  Having practically memorized Sid Fleishman’s By The Great Horn Spoon, a story of a Boston boy and his family’s butler who run away to the California Gold Rush, I was looking forward with keen anticipation to Disney’s adaptation, The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin.  (The fact that Suzanne Pleshette was in it was an added bonus.)  I still remember the shock and bewilderment I felt when I finally saw the film and the many ways in which it bowdlerized the story.  This, of course, is why I’m such a curmudgeon to this day when it comes to screen treatments of books I like.

Now, I am not nearly as invested in the Percy Jackson books as the gels are, but I, too, thought the screenplay strayed too far afield more than once.   I won’t go through the list, of course, but two major things: First, the overall story arc of the books involves a present-day attempt by Kronos and the Titans to break out of their prison and overthrow the Olympians.  No mention is made of this whatsoever in the movie.  Second, the movie version of the climactic showdown between the hero and his chief antagonist – fought over the skyline of Manhattan with each combatant wearing winged shoes- looks painfully like a cheap Harry Potter rip-off.   Oh, well.

One other thing – I couldn’t help noticing that the Underworld to which Percy and his friends descend in their quest had a decidedly Christian look – being nothing but flames and devils and souls in perpetual torment and the like.  The classickal concept of Hades’ kingdom (accurately portrayed in the books), is different than that, being divided into sections reserved for the good, the bad and the in-between.   I suppose somebody decided it was better to go for spectacular visual effects than to waste time trying to explain the difference between Hell and Hades.

The gels have vowed that if there is a sequel, they won’t see it.

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