One of the newest films in the movie industry today is the just-released Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters film, starring (among others) Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Jake Abel and Stanley Tucci. This movie is a sequel to Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, which was released in 2010, and is based off the second book in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. Overall, I thought the film was good, but I was definitely thrown off at parts that were changed or eliminated from the book, and select scenes that seemed completely overdramatized for the film. Please note that this review is not completely spoiler-free, though I’ll try to keep it spoiler-free as much as possible & will note when a spoiler is coming up.
First, a quick recap of what’s going down in the Percy Jackson series. In the first book/film, Percy – who, by the way, is Poseidon’s son and therefore a half-blood or “demigod” – saves Olympus from danger by retrieving Zeus’ stolen lightning bolt. In the books, Percy is supposed to be about 12/13 years old, but in the films, he’s around high-school aged. After recovering the lightning bolt and saving the day, we move on to the second part of the series.
The basic premise of Sea of Monsters (taken from Amazon.com):
“After a summer spent trying to prevent a catastrophic war among the Greek gods, Percy Jackson finds his seventh-grade school year unnervingly quiet. His biggest problem is dealing with his new friend, Tyson—a six-foot-three, mentally challenged homeless kid who follows Percy everywhere, making it hard for Percy to have any “normal” friends.
But things don’t stay quiet for long. Percy soon discovers there is trouble at Camp Half-Blood: the magical borders which protect Half-Blood Hill have been poisoned by a mysterious enemy, and the only safe haven for demigods is on the verge of being overrun by mythological monsters. To save the camp, Percy needs the help of his best friend, Grover, who has been taken prisoner by the Cyclops Polyphemus on an island somewhere in the Sea of Monsters, the dangerous waters Greek heroes have sailed for millennia—only today, the Sea of Monsters goes by a new name…the Bermuda Triangle.
Now Percy and his friends—Grover, Annabeth, and Tyson—must retrieve the Golden Fleece from the Island of the Cyclopes by the end of the summer or Camp Half-Blood will be destroyed. But first, Percy will learn a stunning new secret about his family—one that makes him question whether being claimed as Poseidon’s son is an honor or simply a cruel joke.”
We’re still spoiler-free here so far, folks, so keep reading even if you haven’t seen the film yet. I want to admit freely that I have not yet read all the books in the series; I’ve only read the two that have been made into films so far but plan to continue moving forward soon. I read Sea of Monsters one day prior to seeing the film, which left everything quite fresh in my head and easily able to compare book to film.
Here’s what I took away from this film: It was a good movie, even if the CGI went overboard at points. It’s a good story, rich with details and Greek mythology and modern twists and modern music and overall, I would recommend going to see this movie. I was disappointed by parts of the book that were left out (more details about that in a few) and some parts of the film that seemed completely different or changed from what I recalled in the book. I understand that the movies and books can never be identical, because some concepts simply don’t transfer to the screen or are cut for timing and length purposes, but I guess even recognizing that doesn’t stop me from going “What the heck?!?” when something happens in the movie that was definitely NOT in the book like that, or when a scene that I was looking forward to seeing in the film… never happens.
If you’ve never read the book, you will definitely enjoy the film. If you’ve read the book, go into the film with an open mind, recognizing that not everything transfers over and some things are definitely different, but the basic storyline is still there and you’ll enjoy it.
Alrighty now – spoilery things ahead from this point on! So if you haven’t seen the movie, stop reading here!
A few things of note while watching the film as someone who had just read the book:
– The entire school scene was cut. I understand why – it’s not entirely crucial to the plot, it would take up more time than necessary and since it’s not a crucial part of the storyline, it’s easy enough to cut. I can accept this.
– Tyson is supposed to be Percy’s homeless friend who he eventually finds out is his half-brother. I like that they had a connection already formed before Percy finds out that they’re both sons of Poseidon. In the film, it felt like Tyson was just thrown carelessly at Percy, who never has a chance to make a connection with him before he’s embarrassed in front of the camp. In the end, I understand that the plot develops the same after a certain point, but I liked the idea that they knew each other before finding out that they were brothers.
– Grover appears in the movie a lot more than in the book. I mean, in the book, from the beginning, Grover’s essentially gone and only able to correspond with Percy through his dreams, where he tells him that he’s been captured and all that. Part of Percy’s motivation from the beginning is to find Grover. But in the film, Grover’s there with Percy for much, much longer, even going ON the quest for the Fleece with him for a while.
– The Princess Andromeda. In the book, it’s a cruise ship. In the film, it’s a yacht. While I suppose a cruise ship would have been damn near impossible to find – not to mention expensive – the yacht just doesn’t have that same haunting, creepy feeling that we’d get from an eerily empty cruise ship.
– Complete elimination of the Circe storyline, as well as elimination of the Siren song concept. I understand they were cut for time’s sake, but I really looked forward to the Siren song part… especially because it showed Annabeth’s want for a connection with Luke again.
– Why the heck is Polyphemus’ island situated by an abandoned amusement park?!? That surely wasn’t in the book; I suppose they must have added it for dramatic flair, but I just thought it was strange and unnecessary. Also: where were all the sheep? He ATE them all? Come on. The sheep were an interesting part of the plot, but completely gone in the film.
– The Iris message never happened…. so Luke never accidentally admitted to all of Camp Half-Blood that HE was the one who poisoned Thalia’s tree. I know Percy told the camp that it was Luke and everything, but it’s not the same.
– The entire Chiron plot was nowhere to be found. Again, a cut for time’s sake, but just a note.
– My thoughts about the Kronos scene: “Um……………………… excuse me?”
Overall: Go see the film and see for yourself. Don’t expect everything to be the same as the book and realize that some things were changed for dramatic flair that everyone seems to think rolls better on the big screen.