For those that love the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, you probably have a love/hate relationship with the movies, but we think there may be a solution to the problem: animation.
There’s been a bit of a tenuous relationship between Percy Jackson fans and the movies. We love the stories, we love seeing the stories play out on screen, heck we even embrace the casting (most of the time), but there were some definite problem areas that managed to stall the very successful book series on the big screen.
We’ve even considered how the books could play out as a television series, which we would heartily embrace if it were to come to pass.
Despite those issues, Percy fans still want to see the rest of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series (as well as the Heroes of Olympus series if we had our way) made into films, if only for us to have another way to live out the entire saga again and again. However, there’s very little chance that we will ever get to see the rest made into live action films as the actors have aged too much and the films never grossed enough to be deemed successful.
We think there’s an obvious answer to this problem. The movie adaptations need a little breath of fresh air breathed into them, and what better way to do that than with animation.
The last couple of years at Disney and Pixar have proven that animation is not just for children, but that animation can provide a limitless world for incredibly rich storytelling. As the Percy Jackson books were all published at Disney Hyperion, we can’t help but wonder what they could do if they had full access to the world of Percy Jackson.
Why we’d watch an animated Percy Jackson movie:
1. No more special effects
Yes, the Harry Potter adaptations managed to do magical creatures quite well. No, that doesn’t mean that any and every fantasy young adult novel must go the same route. The magical creatures in the Percy Jackson movies weren’t the most egregious problem, but they definitely weren’t helping matters either.
For instance, Rainbow the hippocampus is described as a fish pony with multi-colored skin. While they embraced this realistically in the live action films, it didn’t have the other-worldly quality for which we were hoping. Now, in an animated universe, creating a rainbow-colored water horse becomes less of a problem and more of an opportunity to fully embrace the magic of Percy’s newly discovered world.
2. Attention to detail
Let’s face it. Non-readers and non-diehards alike love to heckle us about our dedication to small details from the books, but it’s just because we’ve taken such care to envision the characters as closely as we can to how our favorite authors imagined them to be.
In the case of the live action Percy Jackson movies, sometimes details had to be sacrificed to make the movies better, especially in the cases of the physical representations of Annabeth and Clarice. If the films were animated, those details could be followed to a tee with no limitations. They could use whichever voice actress suited the role with no concern for her physical appearance, which would only strengthen the films as a whole.
3. Two words: The gods.
As far as the gods’ representation in the films so far, we have very few complaints. They managed to handle making them both larger than life and able to commune with their demigod children quite effectively.
However, any good Percy Jackson fan knows that there is a complicated world ahead in which at least one of the gods takes on their Divine form, and (if we ever got to see the Heroes of Olympus series) there’s the slightly problematic issue of the gods flashing between their Roman and Greek forms. In an animated film, this becomes another opportunity for an incredibly imaginative mind to envision how these beings would go about switching between their various forms.
4. Expanding the audience
The target audience for the Percy Jackson series has always been middle school readers. Those that have grown up with them (or simply discovered them at an older age and appreciated them for the fun stories they are) will undoubtedly enjoy seeing the characters they already love come alive on the big screen in any form, but there is an opportunity to expand that audience with animation. These books are meant to be a little silly. They’re meant to poke fun at the way the gods sometimes act more like spoiled children than the demigods.
The live action movies tried too hard to compete with the increasingly dark tones of the Harry Potter and Hunger Games films, but since they were not designed to emote the same type of dark themes, the overall experience of the films felt dishonest to the spirit of the books. Animation could change that a thousandfold.
Animation can embody any tone or theme, as the possibilities are endless in an entirely created world, but we can’t help but hope that with a fresh start would come a better understanding of the light-heartedness of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians story. Not to say that the tales are all wine and roses, but they don’t need to be gritty in an animated version.
5. The ‘Big Hero 6’ factor
This past fall, Disney released a film that sparked with the same light-heartedness that the Percy Jackson books have always had, yet was able to tell a story with incredibly hard lessons to teach. Disney brought the heroes of Big Hero 6 to the screen and re-enervated this fan’s desire to see the Percy Jackson films brought back to life.
Animation is not just for fairytales and talking animals anymore, although those are both still fun to see. The ability to take a story as sad and layered as Big Hero 6 and make it appeal to boys and girls and young and old with equal fervor showed that maybe the only thing the live action Percy Jackson films were missing was the unlimited chances that only animation can offer.