The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Review | The Percy Jackson show flopped — here’s why

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Courtesy of IMDb

**This review contains spoilers.**

Disney+ gained popularity in January for the release of its show adaptation of Rick Riordan’s famous book series “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.” The show has polarized audiences, leaving fans expressing both high hopes and disappointments. 

Due to Riordan setting high expectations for the eight-episode show and promising that it would be incomparable to the “Percy Jackson” movie adaptations, fans who grew up on the series were eager to stream. 

The 2010 and 2013 film adaptations, which starred Logan Lerman, were controversial among fans of the series. The movies did a decent job of keeping the book’s storyline and even created some very entertaining movie moments. 

However, it was obvious that the actors who played the main three characters — Percy Jackson, Annabeth Chase and Grover Underwood — were too old for their roles. In the first “Percy Jackson” novel, the characters were only 12 years old, which created an awkward age difference considering the actors were nearly in their 20s. 

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    “You can’t really do a coming-of-age story with magic and mystery, and all of that wonderful sort of tween sort of angst and energy, if you’re working with 25-year-olds who are pretending to be 18, as Hollywood so often loves to do — it’s just, it has a totally different tone,” Riordan said in an interview with Radio Times

    Despite the flaws in the cast’s age range, the movies still provided some of the most iconic moments in the Percy Jackson fandom with incredible cinematic scenes. For example, in “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” the trio enters the Lotus Casino, where they are swept away by feelings of memory loss and psychedelia. The clip went viral for showing “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga blasting while the characters are seen dancing and fooling around. 

    The opinions of the films set up the new Disney+ show with high hopes. It was exciting to hear that Riordan would be taking a huge directing role with the series, hopefully making it more book-accurate and a production that long-time Percy Jackson fans would love. 

    “Normalize bad movie erasure,” Riordan posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

    On Dec. 19, the first two episodes of the series were released and quickly received a large audience. It was thrilling to see so many favorite characters come to life. It was clear that the producers put great thought into their casting and set designs, as everything seemed to come straight from the books. Camp Half-Blood in particular was incredibly exciting to see on screen. It looked exactly how readers would imagine the camp while reading the series. 

    Yet, as more episodes aired, it seemed as if the casting and set design were the only strong suits of the show. 

    Episodes typically ended before the 40-minute mark, often making the storyline feel rushed. It was as if the most important scenes of the story were held in mere minutes, making the flow of the episodes feel rough and brief to fit the Disney+ episode length. 

    It also felt as though Disney took away all of the action and messy demigod behavior to make the show “family-friendly.” In the books, characters often get into serious trouble with mythological monsters. However, the show does nothing to bring this to the adaption and instead makes the characters quickly figure out the enemy’s plan and cleanly escape. 

    In one example from episode seven, Percy (Walker Scobell) enters a mattress store and immediately goes up to the owner, Crusty (Julian Richings), who is secretly the mythological monster Procrustes. Percy explains Procrustes’ own backstory to him and informs him that he knows exactly what Procrustes wants to trick Percy into. This is followed by back-and-forth banter between the characters, ending with Annabeth (Leah Jeffries) pushing Procrustes onto one of his torturous mattresses. 

    The book takes a much darker route, as Procrustes successfully tricks Annabeth and Grover (Aryan Simhadri) into laying on his waterbed, which locks their limbs in place and stretches their spines to the point of death. Percy then manipulates Procrustes to lay on his bed, which then traps him in place. The scene ends with Percy cutting the head of Procrustes off and saving his friends.

    While some critics claim the Procrustes scene puts a modern spin on the show, it instead comes off as a lazy Disney remake.  

    The fight scenes additionally felt extremely rushed and had all of their original battle intensities stripped away. 

    In the third episode, the trio gets trapped on a bus with one of the Furies, the winged goddesses of vengeance. As the kids try to escape the bus, Annabeth throws her weapon at the Fury. The scene feels unusual, as the bus passengers seem completely oblivious to the fight happening right before their eyes. The book included much more chaos, as the original fight ends with Zeus throwing a lightning bolt at the bus, causing an explosion. 

    Similarly, the Percy versus Ares fight in episode eight was another letdown. This scene in the storyline is incredibly important because Percy has gone from learning how to fight with a sword for the first time to a one-on-one battle with the God of War himself. 

    It was critical for Disney to make this scene live to its fullest potential in the show, but sadly the fight felt sloppy and short. In the show, Percy is losing to Ares’ strength and uses the nearby ocean to slam Ares into a wave. Percy then cuts Ares’ ankle, winning the fight. This scene lost its high adrenaline feel, as well as the original eerie ending of Ares leaving due to Kronos, the evil King of Titans, intervening. 

    The cast of the show often threw hints in interviews, exciting fans about scenes they hoped would be included. One of these was the cameo of Bianca and Nico di Angelo — two characters who have been trapped in the Lotus Casino for decades. 

    “In the casino, pay attention, there will be a few interesting names thrown around there,” Simhadri said in a TikTok.

    This cameo in question was a short one-second yell from the di Angelos, which was so quiet that it could be easily missed. The Lotus Casino scene is already disappointing, as the bar had been set so high in the film. And to make this scene even more upsetting, the show decided to play “Levitating” by Dua Lipa instead of the iconic “Poker Face.”

    Ultimately, it was a bit hypocritical that Riordan chose to bash the movie adaptions while the show was not much better. The series strayed away from nearly all key storyline events, making the show extremely predictable and confusing at times, as some story changes simply were not necessary. 

    Disney has not officially announced a second season for the show, but we can only hope that its current popularity results in one. Hopefully, if there is another season, the books will be done more justice. Overall, it was definitely cool to see the show bring the Percy Jackson universe to life, even if there were many unnecessary changes.

    The annoyance of older fans of the series can be attributed to Disney+ aiming the show’s audience towards the younger side. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” may be a good way to introduce young readers to Greek mythology, but the show is arguably more Half-Baked than Half-Blood. 

     

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