Despite my extreme disappointment regarding the screen adaptation of The Lightning Thief, I looked forward to the Sea of Monsters premiere with a great deal of anticipation. After watching the trailer a couple times, I concluded that the production crew had attempted to correct some of their bigger, more overlooked mistakes–such as changing Annabeth’s hair color, and adding in the previously-forgotten story of Thalia’s tree–in order to stay true to the books. However, my immediate assumption proved to be wrong, and I was even more disappointed by this movie than the last one.
Upon reading reviews, I have discovered that many critics have referred to the Percy Jackson series as “the next Harry Potter.” Although both series are exceptional, I’ve found that there’s a huge difference in the immensity of their fan base–Harry Potter’s being much greater, for many reasons. I believe that a lot of this has had to do with the movie adaptations, of which had nearly opposite turnouts. The Potter books and movies were nearly identical, whereas the Percy Jackson movies were barely recognizable from the books with the exception of the loosely similar, kind-of-relative storyline. I believe that the Percy Jackson movie would have had a much better turnout if they had stayed true to the books; the theater-goers would be pleased by Riordan’s geniusly thought-out, perfectly-paced plot, and in turn, the movies wouldn’t be shunned by the series’ die-hard fans, therefore receiving more recognition altogether.
Of course, much of this is due to Rick Riordan, his flexibility regarding new ideas, the contract he agreed to, blah, blah, blah. But still his readers demand to know… why did the Percy Jackson series have to change when transferred to the big screen? And why did Rick agree to it? I’m sure he had his reasons, but as a reader heavily devoted to the series, I believe I speak for all his readers when I say he should have stuck to his ideas no matter what the cost, and remained loyal to his series when negotiating new ideas with the production crew. This makes me admire J.K. Rowling, who didn’t take no for an answer when it came to contributing her ideas; she even demanded an all British cast (even the movie extras) in order to reach her goal of remaining true to the setting of the saga.
Being an EXTREME fan of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, I naturally dissected the movie scene-by-scene, mentally counting and tallying everything that appeared in the movies that didn’t in the books (sadly, I lost count only about fifteen minutes into the film). However, my sister claims that I would have liked the movie if I hadn’t read the books first, which I, being extremely biased, continue to deny wholeheartedly. Although I will admit that there were some epic fight scenes in both The Lightning Thief and The Sea of Monsters, along with some hilariously funny and awkwardly placed jokes and offhand comments that had everyone in the theater to busting up laughing, which caused me to glare at them and remind them annoyingly that “That wasn’t in the books…”
There being a ridiculously high amount of things that didn’t live up to expectations (which, I’ll admit, were set a bit high as well), I’ve had to narrow everything down to a list of the top ten things in the movie(s) that didn’t do the book(s) justice.
(Note: my list contains minimal spoilers)
#1. Age: In The Lightning Thief, Percy and Annabeth are suppose to be twelve. I understood the filmmakers’ desire to attract an older audience, but I feel that it really ruined the mood and tone of the plot. Since there are five books in the series, it would have been enjoyable to watch the actors grow up through the duration of the movie making.
#2. Character Development: I felt that some movie-goers that hadn’t read the books could have easily misinterpreted a lot of the characters’ personalities. I felt that Tyson was portrayed as too intelligent, for in the book he rarely uses complete sentences. However, I did learn to love Tyson throughout the film, even if it wasn’t relative to the book. For some reason, Annabeth did some things in the Sea of Monsters movie that Percy does in the book (example: starting to open the thermos of the winds). These moments made Annabeth appear impulsive and rash, when that is really more Percy’s character, and she is supposed to be the wise one. Plus, she’s a daughter of the goddess of wisdom! Shouldn’t she know better?
#3. Kronos: Kronos was not risen in the second book; he appears in full form in The Sea of Monsters film, which is just completely inaccurate. And if you think that’s bad, he also eats Luke and–spoiler alert!–Luke survives. Whoop-de-do.
#4. Cell Phones: In the movie, Clarisse takes a picture of Grover in a wedding dress, to which he replies, “Don’t you dare let that go viral.” Helllooo? They already have to face a giant cyclops; what’s Clarisse thinking by bringing a cell phone? Doesn’t she know that they attract monsters? What is she doing–trying to get them all killed???
#5. Wardrobe: The campers didn’t have Camp Half-Blood t-shirts or beads!! I found this highly disappointing.
#6. Circe’s Island: This being my personal favorite and–in my opinion–one of the most memorable chapters in the book, I was sad that it didn’t make the director’s cut; I really wanted to watch Logan Lerman get turned into a rodent.
#7. The Golden Fleece: I felt that the Golden Fleece should have looked somewhat more impressive and well… golden. It was a tan piece of non-brilliant fabric with some gold stitching near the center, unlike how Percy describes it in the book.
#8. Camp: In the movie-version, Camp Half-Blood is purely composed of kids in their upper teens, as oppose to in the books, where the age of the campers varies a great deal more. This was disappointing to me. I think the wider age range made the camp appear more as a home; a place to grow up, rather than a battle-ready, high school boot-camp. Also, the camp changed dramatically from the first to the second movie. In The Lightning Thief, all the campers were in battle armor 24/7; in The Sea of Monsters, they are most regularly seen huddled around campfires, or gathering for assembly.
#9. Pathetic Mid-Climax Bro-Hug: In the midst of the most dramatic and exciting part of the movie, right when you think they’re going to succeed in their quest and bring glory to Camp Half-Blood, Percy and Tyson hug only feet away from the Fleece for what seemed like a century; and the whole time I was thinking, COME ON, GUYS, JUST GET THE FLEECE ALREADY AND HAVE YOUR BRO MOMENT LATER. Of course, their carelessness does cost them incredibly, and within those few precious seconds, Kronos is fated to rise again.
#10. Nicknames: ANNABETH DIDN’T CALL PERCY “SEAWEED BRAIN” AND PERCY DIDN’T CALL ANNABETH “WISE GIRL” EVEN ONCE IN THE MOVIE. I believed this to be something both amusing and reflective of both of their characters’ personalities and attitude toward each other. It would have been simple, really, to add this in and I am vexed that they did not.
For those of you who have read the books, I hope you understand my approach on the movie adaptation. I feel that a better director, one that could see and live up to the potential of this amazing saga, could have made it into something unforgettable. For now, readers, let’s just shake our heads, roll our eyes at the tv screen, and conjure up our own movies for the series.
The Sea of Monsters movie on a scale from 1 to 10: If you’ve read the books, I give it a 3. If you haven’t, a 6. I doubt that there are many people as passionate about this kind of thing as I am, so maybe you won’t judge the film as harshly as I did. Who knows? Maybe you’ll even enjoy it!
I hope, that as readers, you can empathize my revulsion toward movie directors’ literary obliteration; and that someone somewhere felt as strongly about this as I did.
For the book fans out there: mark your calendars… HOUSE OF HADES RELEASE DATE IS OCTOBER 8TH!!
Did you enjoy the Sea of Monsters movie? Or are you, like me, 100% loyal to the books? Please comment and share!
-Danielle K., 8th grade