Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Book VS. Movie Review

Tuesday morning I checked Fandango and nearly flipped my lid when I realized there was going to be an early showing of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. I told my husband to forget whatever he had planned for the night: we were going to the movies.
And so we did. Because, based on the trailer, I could tell that they had done a much better job on this sequel than they did on the hugely disappointing Lightning Thief movie adaptation.

And they did. I'd be lying if I said they did not.

I fear that I can not say that they did much better. These movies continue to break my heart. The casting is absolutely perfect, the acting spans from pretty good to awesome, and the special effects work well. The glaring mistake that keeps chipping away at what I believe should be a runaway film franchise on par with Harry Potter is the missed opportunities for WORLD BUILDING.

The Wonderful World of the Percy Jackson Books and its Movies

If you have not read the Percy Jackson books, then you are missing out. Rick Riordan has brought Greek mythology to our modern world in the same way JK Rowling brought us magic. It lives within our world without us seeing it. Mere mortals are shrouded under what is called "the mist" so that we can not see the mythical creatures as they truly look, we cannot perceive the magic or superhuman feats that the half-boods or the gods may be performing right in front of us. However, just like in Harry Potter, they are happening all around us. Rick Riordan has built a world filed with characters, conflicts, and landmarks not only unique to his story, but that are also in ours. He brought Olympus, the Underworld and many other landmarks of the Greek myths to America and housed them within our cities, under our mountains and all of the other places that make so much sense once the mist is lifted from the reader's eyes. For me, half the fun of reading these books is learning where the gods are hiding among us. The other half of the fun is going on the quest with the heroes where they battle monsters, meet gods and, somewhere in between, struggle with many of the things ordinary kids do - growing up in single-parent homes, learning disabilities, being bullied in school, and feeling ashamed of a brother who is different are just a few.

For some reason these movies take all of that wonderfulness and come away with this: some heroes go on a quest where they meet a couple of gods and battle one or two monsters. That's it. The world is gone. The real-life problems that make these heroes relate-able are all but missing, those that are present are forced in uncomfortably leaving me screaming, "Show me, don't tell me!" There is no evidence in these movies that all of this is happening in our world, which, for me, is one of the coolest aspects of the story.

What Could Have Been

I walked out of the movie tonight heart-broken again, not because the movie was horrible, but because I know it was not good enough to sell books. It has been my opinion from the moment I read this series that it would take only one well-made Percy Jackson film to turn Percy Jackson into the next Harry Potter. I'm giving up on that now, and I've come up with a new theory: give up on the movies, this needs to be an epic TV show.

My Final Thoughts

Percy fans, go ahead and see this movie, but brace yourselves. I think you'll enjoy the casting, but you are going to feel rushed. For those of you who have not read Percy, I am curious to hear what you have to say about this movie - does it capture your interest? Does it maintain it?

In the end, I'm not sure if there will be a third film - I'm waiting for the box office numbers to determine that - but who knows? Maybe the third time will be the charm!

Have you read the Percy books?
 How were you introduced to the books?
 Have you seen Sea of Monsters? What did YOU think?


  1. Oh no - I was hoping that it would be so much better!! :(

  2. I was thinking of you, Brett. I know you are a fellow Percy fan. It was definitely better, but the trailer fooled me into thinking they actually did it 100% right!

  3. *groan* I guess we won't be seeing it in theaters... (okay, we probably wouldn't anyway... but still.)

    Why can't they do these movies right?!?!?

  4. THIS is the question I couldn't stop asking myself over and over and over again. Also why don't they seem to WANT to get it right? They have the money, the resources and even the right actors, so why don't they USE THEM?!?!

  5. And not only do they have all of that, they have a willing audience! Although they might not anymore after this one comes out!

  6. Honestly, I'm surprised they even made this 2nd film! But like you said, the cast is pretty great and as a reader of the books, I'm going to go see it. I also mentioned in your What's Up Wednesday post that I weirdly enjoyed the first one even though it was not at all a good adaptation of the books. :P

    I'm not sure why they can't make a good movie out of these books because like you said, I think if the movies were better, it could easily have similar success to the Harry Potter franchise.

    Thanks for the review!

  7. Yeah... I saw The Lightning Thief first. Although I enjoyed it, I didn't like it enough to go read the books. But what you just described with the world building made me want to buy one right now.

  8. I haven't read the books. Caught the first film on NetFlix and thought it was all right, but it wasn't enough to compel me to watch another. Guess there's a reason this one was fourth at the box office this weekend.
    Missed you for the IWSG this month!

  9. I am also an EXTREME Percy Jackson fan, just as I was an EXTREME Harry potter fan before that...well still. I have tried watching the 1st movie about 5-6 times but I get so upset with it after about 15-20 minutes I end up turning it off and going back for the books :). After a LOT of research I finally know why the movies are so different from the books. Rick actually sold the rights to the books before the 1st book was even released. So the director had am idea of the storyline, but only the cliffnotes version. So while I will not see these movies unless the entire series is remade, I do empathize with the director, who I'm sure has received his fair share of criticism for these movies. That being said, I saw from some previews that they did try and make some subtle changes, such as changing annabeths hair and eyes...well that's really all I saw. Oh well, nap time, wake me up when a real Percy Jackson movie surfaces. Thanks