When I heard that The Lightning Thief was going to be made into a movie, I was psyched. When I found out Logan Lerman was going to be playing Percy, I was confused. When I read an article today where the scriptwriter said they made a conscious decision to age Percy Jackson up from 12 to 17, I was annoyed.
First off, I admire the young actor playing Percy. He was in a short-lived show called Jack & Bobby that was quite good. So I’m sure he’ll bring a lot to the role.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s why I’m bothered: There’s something to be said for innocence. One of the things I really loved about the Percy Jackson series is that, like Harry Potter, the titular character grew with his audience. He matured through each book, so that by the end, he had learned the lessons he would need to fight the big fight. I think that’s one of the reasons HP was so popular. Kids began reading it at 11, and they grew up with Harry Potter. I was thrilled that they allowed the same thing to happen with the movies. The first movie was magical and innocent, and they grew darker and edgier as HP grew up.
But with the Percy Jackson movies, they decided that they wanted more violence, more edge, and didn’t want to be stuck with a kiddy movie. But the problem is that book one is a kiddy book. And a damn good one. It’s got a real hero with real problems that kids can relate to. He’s got ADD and a distant father. He gets in trouble at school and even his demi-god peers don’t get him. But that wasn’t good enough. The movie company felt the need to make him edgier. But by doing so, they stole what makes him relatable. By not letting Percy Jackson grow up naturally, they stole his magic.
There are times when it’s appropriate to allow a wholesome, relatable, PG rated story, stay wholesome. This should have been one of those times. Sadly this feels like another instance of Hollywood ruining a great kids movie (I’m looking at you THE DARK IS RISING). I hope I’m wrong.