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El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

“Percy Jackson and the Olympians” fails to meet expectations

The remake of the famed book series is ultimately a disappointment
The+poster+for+Percy+Jackson+and+the+Olympians+features+Walker+Scobell+%28Percy+Jackson%29+holding+a+sword+as+waves+come+crashing+around+him.+Poster+%7C+Disney%2B
The poster for “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” features Walker Scobell (Percy Jackson) holding a sword as waves come crashing around him. Poster | Disney+

Ready to transport viewers back to his fantastical Camp Half-Blood once again, author Rick Riordan pitched the concept of a Percy Jackson TV series in 2019, which became official with the 2020 announcement of a Disney+ rendition of his popular book series. However, filming only began in 2022 due to COVID-19 halting the project, meaning that the first episode of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” was released on Dec. 19, 2023. After this, the streaming platform released episodes on a weekly basis, with the eighth and final episode premiering on Jan. 30. This season is intended to be one of many, with the events correlating with Riordan’s first novel in the series, “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” — 12-year-old Percy Jackson embarks on a journey to discover his heritage and fix the ongoing tensions between the Gods. 

Unfortunately, the four year wait was far from worth it. Despite the budget for each episode ranging from $12 to $15 million, many scenes feel empty from a cinematography standpoint. The battles are far from bold and the backdrops do not encapsulate the magic of Camp Half-Blood and the realm of the Gods and Goddesses, which is only further proven when comparing the show to the 2010 movie “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief.”  While the movie is shorter, the special effects capture the magic from Riordan’s mind, whereas the TV show feels like a failed attempt at trying to recreate a similar artistry. 

Fans of the books or casual viewers of the movies will immediately notice stark plot differences when comparing the television series to the book or movie. While some of these modifications are for the better, such as Riordan modifying Medusa’s character to shed light on sexual assault, many modifications feel unwarranted and take away from the show’s initial value. For example, there is not a singular lotus flower at the Lotus Hotel, whereas in the books, the characters eat the lotus flowers and lose track of their memory and time. Instead, the series replaces the flowers’ impact with the air of the hotel, such that the air has a similar haze-inducing effect on the characters, which waters down the very purpose of the hotel.

The series is also divided unevenly within its eight episodes — while some episodes are overly action-packed, others are boring and a complete waste of 30 minutes. The emotional blandness of the script and anticlimactic sensation of the season’s alleged “climax” are to blame, as this ultimately ruins the viewing experience by creating a general sense of dissatisfaction and boredom until the season finale. This is not to imply that the finale is good, with the episode being heavily packed with action, creating an overall sense of confusion. 

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However, the show has its redeeming qualities, one of which is the casting. The actors are in their pre-teens and teens, just like the characters (a stark contrast from Hollywood’s current obsession with casting 25-year-olds as high schoolers), which makes the TV series truer to the books, at least in this regard. Riordan has also added racial diversity to his series by casting Leah Jeffries as Annabeth Chase and Aryan Simhadri as Grover Underwood, which is a pleasant progression compared to the casting of the original movie. Furthermore, Walker Scobell (Percy Jackson), Leah Jeffries and Aryan Simhadri are all highly talented actors and actresses, and their skills bring life to the characters they portray. 

All of this traces back to the show’s potential — the show received such a high budget and such a talented cast, creating expectations of amazement. However, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” fails to do so, instead proving the important role that production and direction has in making a TV series. One can only hope that the following seasons increase in quality and the show redeems itself from its sorry excuse of a first season. 

About the Contributor
Aashi Venkat, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Aashi Venkat is currently a senior and an arts and entertainment editor for El Estoque. Her favorite color is pink and she likes to take pictures and listen to music in her free time.
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