Every now and then a movie comes out and I get super excited about it because it sparks something form my childhood or youth that I love.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians did that. I loved Greek mythology in High School (even if I went a little cross-eyed reading The Odyssey and The Illiad). Hollywood is trying to make mythology cool again, and I was stoked about that.
I so wanted to see this movie…and because I think I live under a rock sometimes, I hadn’t heard it was a book series *scribbles a wish list*.
And then we went to the theater.
***Spoilers Ahead. Turn Back Now!***
Last Chance to Avoid Spoilers!My apologies to everyone reading in the Readers!
Dr. Hunt Kevin McKidd Poseidon comes storming out the ocean and makes himself all human looking so he can jaunt up the Empire State building to chat with his brother, Zeus, who has decided that you can apparently walk out of Mordor, because he is royally pissed that someone has bounced and taken his lightning bolt with them… but I guess maybe someone should have picked up his toys a little better, huh? But no, it isn’t Zeus’ fault, because obviously Poseidon has teamed up with his bastard to steal it and overthrow Zeus, because no one trusts anyone here, and we aren’t going to let a little fact that Poseidon’s secret son doesn’t know who he is or who Poseidon is or the fact that he probably skipped school that day distract Zeus from his tantrum… And, hey, isn’t Zeus supposed to wield a thunderbolt? I am not going to rain on their parade…I do not have book or movie deals. Anyhow, Zeus stomps about for a bit and declares that there will be big time trouble of Inconvenient Truth Proportions if someone doesn’t bring his toys back. NAO! Then, he takes the elevator back to Mordor Olympus, because I C WUT U DID THAR! New York is like, where Gods should be!
So, Percy Jackson goes to a really really special school for kids with “special needs”, because he is dyslexic. You can tell because every time he tries to read something on the board it looks all jumbly and it swirls around. It’s almost like it’s…Greek or something. That is also if he has been paying attention at all, because he obviously has AD D, and we all know that this means he can’t sit still or even look at his teacher. In fact, kids with ADD just give up and wander around with headphones on all the time. I don’t know…it all felt very forced LOOK I HAVE THIS PROBLEM1!!1
I do not have ADD, so I can do no more than call my brother to ask if this is an accurate portrayal. My brother does not write blogs. He should. He’s very funny. And also not a concise person.
Percy Jackson can also hold his breath under water for a wicked long time, and no one thinks it is odd that he likes to do this all the time. I have not read the books, so I do not know… does he swim? Is there a reason he is just drawn to the pool all the time that would make sense in the context of his childhood? It is funny that no one has questioned this rather troublesome to the outside observer who doesn’t realize that Percy might have a higher purpose that he doesn’t yet understand behavior. His buddy likes to time him … seven minutes ZOMCC! AMAZING PERCY! It’s almost like he’s BORN to be in the WATER!
So I thought, OK, cool, here is someone who is set up to be a main character who uses crutches, who is Percy’s buddy Grover. That is kind of new. And he’s a PoC. Rawk. A Person of Color who is also a MAIN CHARACTER!
So, let’s go home from school. O HAI! It’s Percy’s mom! She’s ironing her waitress uniform like a good sacrificial lamb! Because here comes Joe Pantoliano who I have only ever seen play someone other than a drunk Italian guy one time on a USA show or something. And he comes in and grabs Percy’s mom’s ass to seal the abused woman who gave up her whole life to become a martyr raise her man-child stereotype. I was pretty sure they were going to whip something out on the table over who was more in charge of taking care of Sally. Oh the price you pay for one night with that man who had the looks of a god! Oh…
So Percy gets to tell his mother that he is so frustrated with school, and she assures him that all of the problems that he is having will all make sense to him one day … because disability is just something we have to tough through until it results in our higher calling? FORESHADOWING!
Cut to Field Trip day to the local museum which just so happens to be having an exhibit on Greek Gods and such. Pierce Brosnan is rockin’ his wheelchair… HEY WAIT A MINUTE!
It is like a crip drag parade in here.
Percy still can’t pay attention even when Professor Brosnan leads him through the questions, so a new teacher leads him into the next room to give him the stern “pay attention” lecture, and it turns out she’s a HARPY ZOMCC PERCY LOOK OUT!
She attacks Percy, and Grover comes to his rescue because HA HA HE IS JUST PRETENDING TO BE DISABLED he can hide his satyr legs and follow Percy around and be his protector, and they run to Percy’s house to get his mother and they all run away to the Camp for Half Bloods, where all the other children who happen to be demigods hang after their secret identities have been revealed.
And they explain to Percy that his ADD is really this cool defense mechanism, meant to help keep him alive when he is attacked, because he is the Son of a God, and is supposed to be a hero. His dyslexia? It is just that his brain is really wired to read Ancient Greek, so it is just that he is in the wrong place. It’s because it is a super power! Sound familiar?
Percy gets to meet all the other demigods including Annabeth, who completes the two dudes one girl trope, although this girl is an awesome breath of fresh air, at least in the movie, in that as the daughter of Athena, she is a perfect combination of ass-kicker and friend, who isn’t having any of that “I’ve fallen in love with you at first sight” crap from Percy. Kudos screen writers! She is smart, she is brave, and I crushed on her a bit DO NOT JUDGE ME!!1! so there is that, and I am hoping that I will enjoy her character this much in the book as well. She was not your Heavenly Sword girl in a chainmail bikini who is cold and stomping everything in her way. She had depth and clothes and I liked her. She was my Ginny Weasley.
And it was all very awkward feeling to me. Because as much as I wanted to love this movie, to get all my fangirl for Greek mythology on and be ready for the next Epic Thing in movies (while not holding my breath for the first great Heroine Movie Series), the first half hour was very off putting for me. There were so many tropes that I couldn’t ink all of my cards and I couldn’t even enjoy the glory that was Pierce Brosnan prancing around half horse. Yes. He’s a centaur and not really disabled either…
However, after a rather chatty discussion with lauredhel about the book series, and having read the first 45 pages of the first book for myself before SOMEONE lost our copy (I would never name names but her initials are The Kid) which we had to ride the bus all the way to Osan to get, I decided that the luster of the story has been lost somewhere in the Big Screen Magic.
The rest of the movie, while veering wildly away from the story arc of the book series, was decent. If you liked the Harry Potter movies you may like this movie. If you like the Percy Jackson book series, you will probably mostly like this movie. If ableism, sexism, racism, and some slightly uncomfortable albeit possibly over the heads of young ones sex innuendos between characters that are supposed to be around 14 or so bother you, you may want to pass. I mean, how old is Grover supposed to be anyhow? And really, when are we going to stop hypersexualizing the PoC characters?
There was one scene that both amused me and slightly irritated me, involving Rosario Dawson’s portrayal of Persephone and Hades, but in the name of spoilers I won’t discuss it at length, but for anyone who has seen it, did it bother anyone else? On a race level or as a trigger for anything else?
In the end, I give Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief a good rating if I can get over the first half hour of aggravation, but maybe it might be enough to put me off altogether if these things are hurtful enough to me. Or maybe it was because SOMEONE ate all my popcorn before the second Lollipop commercial was over. *coughs* However, again, because of the discussion with lauredhel, I am willing to entertain that my perspective is not universal (try not to faint). So, I turn it over to you, gentle readers.
Photo from: Newark Library
Originally published at FWD/Forward