Book vs. Movie: Sea of Monsters

sea_monsters_book_movDespite 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

13 thoughts on “Book vs. Movie: Sea of Monsters

  1. This said everything that I was thinking about this movie! Thank you so much for making this! It helped relieve some of my irritation to know someone also was thinking these things!:)

    OK. LETS DO THIS LADIES *marisa voice*
    most sincerely,
    Ali As (see what i did there?)

  3. I am CRAZY impressed by your writing!! We weren’t even thinking of sending kayden to this movie cuz he is entertained enough by reading and re-reading the series over the last three years AND he only sees extremely devon-edited films of this sort (and that is rare) BUT if we had been thinking it, you gave us reason not to. Kayden would have been just as disappointed as you! I am shocked the author of the books would allow this to happen. And WHY– why would they do it anyways? When you have a following, the people WANT the movie to be like the book with all those awesome details and just brought to life in a brilliant way! Thank you for this great article! When you open your publishing house, Kayden is going to want a job!

  4. Exactly! It’s like the producers realized they messed up the first book, threw in some things like Mr. D and the oracle, then continued to destroy the series. Those half bloods who will betray the camp in the last book? Why not just kill them off in the second movie, that makes sense. The secret prophecy Percy is not suppose to know about? Just tell him immediately because he asked. The worst thing by far was the moment with Percy and Tyson you mentioned. Did they just want another fight scene or something? The books are much better. Compared to them, the movies don’t stand a chance.

  5. Your completely right! The movies for this series haven’t been accurate so far, and they definitely should have picked a cast that actually matched the age category and physical appearances. For some reason, usually the books are better than the movies by a lot. But, I agree with you that the Harry Potter series exhibits each plot point and conflict quite well into the movie. Hopefully, us readers can make a new Percy Jackson movie. The reader version.

  6. I totally and completely agree with everything you said here. When the first movie came out I was so excited to see it, but when I walked out of that theater I was ranting. I loved the Percy Jackson series, but they completely ruined the movie. They got the stupidest things wrong! And I’m glad I read this because I was actually going to give the second movie a chance, but what from what you said I don’t think I want to. The books definitely beat the movies by a landslide.

  7. Hey, guys. Thanks for commenting! I found this in an interview with Rick Riordan and I hope you find it as enlightening as I did. 🙂

    When asked about the movie(s), Riordan replied…
    A: Sorry, that’s not my department! I can only tell you that the movie Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, released Feb. 12, 2010 and directed by Chris Columbus, was based on my book The Lightning Thief. Understand that I did not write the script or help make the movie. I didn’t even see it, because I didn’t want the movie version to change the way I saw my characters or settings in the series! I just write the books. I can’t comment or provide any additional information about the movie version.
    He also said this when asked if he had any control over the movie(s)…
    A: No. When an author sells the rights to a book, typically full creative control goes to the movie studio and director — in this case, Fox 2000 and Chris Columbus. The movie rights to Lightning Thief were sold over five years ago, before the book was even published. I made the decision to sell the rights so early because it brought lots of public attention to the books and helped the series catch on. However, once the movie rights are sold, the author has no control over what happens in the movie. They let me read a version of the script and make some suggestions, but that was the extent of my involvement. I can’t tell you anything further about the movie. Like I said, I didn’t even see it. Nor can I give you contact information for anyone who was involved in the movie. Sorry!
    A. It’s actually VERY rare for an author to be involved in a movie version or have any input whatsoever. Sure, there are exceptions, but they are just that: exceptions. There are many reasons for this. Movies and books are different forms of storytelling. Film makers figure they know more about making movies than the author does, so most of the time, they insist on total control.
    Many of his readers, including myself, were shocked to hear his nonchalance when it came to this issue. He then continued to describe how the book-to-movie process is carried out…
    A: I explain it this way: Selling someone the movie rights to your book is a lot like selling someone your house. Once you sell it, it isn’t yours anymore. You have to move out and let the new owners move in. If you insisted on a bunch of conditions before you sold it, like: “You have to let me control what color you paint the house, how you decorate it, how you remodel it, and oh yes, you have to let me continue to live there,” well, most people wouldn’t agree to buy a house with all those restrictions, would they? When you buy a house, you want to have control to do what you want with it. You could repaint it, remodel it, even tear it down and build something entirely new. The old owners wouldn’t have any say in the matter.

    Movie rights work the same way. If someone says, “Why did you let them do blah, blah, blah in your movie?” All I can do is shrug. It’s not a matter of “letting them” do anything. It’s not “my movie.” It’s not my house anymore. The new owners can do whatever they want. After all, they didn’t purchase the rights for *me* to make a movie. They purchased the rights for *them* to make a movie. I wish them the best, but movie-making is not my thing. I have no interest in it. Besides, I may be biased as a novelist, but I believe if you have a book, you already have the best version of the story. There is no way a movie can ever create images as good as the ones you actively create in your imagination as you read.

    Hope you found this as interesting as I did. Still wish he hadn’t sold the house. 🙂

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  9. I completely agree with you! The first time I watched the new movies I flipped! There wasn’t Ares, or the SPIDER RIDE! I would have loved to see that! And the second movie just got worse! No hydra or even Monster Donuts! I love donuts! And they completely messed up on the cruise ship! it was sailing by camp! Not Chesapeake Bay! They ruined them! I would rewrite the whole movie, make them burn the old script and shoot a new movies on the spot with 12 year olds! Not 15 year olds! Come on!

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