Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Movie Review: Percy Jackson - Sea of Monsters

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Acting, some effects, fun story
Cons: Many changes from book, some effects
The Bottom Line:
Changes from book will
Annoy series fans but still
Entertaining film

"You Want to Go on a Quest.  It Must be Thursday."

It’s been several years since I read the second book in the Percy Jackson series.  In fact, I read it not too long after the first movie came out.  And considering how close the original book and movie were (not very), I didn’t bother rereading the book before seeing Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.  I’m sure that was a wise decision.

Now, if you are new to the franchise completely, you would actually be okay to jump in here.  There are really two prologs to the movie, one that gives the back story and one that sets up some of the action in this movie.  Briefly, Percy is a demigod, specifically the son of Poseidon.  He lives in modern day New York State, but there are plans afoot to over throw the gods of Mount Olympus….

Percy Jackson (Logan Lerman) is settling into his new life at Camp Half-Blood, the only safe place for demigods.  Or so they think.  One night at dinner, the camp is attacked by a mechanical bull, and the campers discover that the tree that protects the camp has been poisoned.

Percy’s friend Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario) is certain that only one thing can save the tree and their camp – the mythical Golden Fleece.  Even though their nemesis in the camp, Clarisse (Leven Rambin), is sent out on the quest to find it, Percy, Annabeth, Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), and Percy’s half-brother Tyson (Douglas Smith) sneak out and attempt to find it on their own.  The last known location was in the Sea of Monsters, better known to us mortals as the Bermuda Triangle.  But when their paths cross with an old foe, the quest takes on an even more urgent tone.  Can they find the fleece in time?

I remember enough of the book that I can already hear fans of the series screaming out about the inconsistencies.  The only one that really annoyed me was Tyson.  He’s a Cyclops, and the book makes it clear that, while not full grown, he is bigger than Percy and the others.  Here, he’s the same size.  They also changed a certain prophecy since the gap between movies being released in real life has made the original timing from the books impossible.

Basically, just know this.  If you watch this movie, pretend the book never existed and you’ll be fine.  Otherwise, you’ll just be nitpicking apart the film from start to finish.  The book is not fresh enough in my mind to do that, which I think is probably a huge blessing.

But if you are able to watch this as a film itself, you’ll certainly enjoy it.  After a bit of a slow start, things quickly pick up.  The moment our heroes leave on the quest, the story really gets interesting, and it held my attention until the end.  There are several good action sequences and twists to keep anyone entertained.

I do wonder, however, how they will handle the climax of this movie and the plot of the next book if the movie franchise goes forward.  In attempts to wrap some things up in case the movie series doesn't continue, they might also be writing themselves into a corner.

I found it interesting that most of the adult actors changed between movies.  That meant we get to see the likes of Nathan Fillion and Anthony Stewart Head in roles others played last time.  I didn’t mind; in fact, I enjoyed seeing them in the movie.  The main cast (Percy and his friends) are the same.  Everyone does a good job with the acting.

However, let’s talk special effects.  As you might imagine, the monsters make the film rather effects heavy.  Some work, but for the most part you can tell that the characters are interacting with something fake.  The opening scene, in fact, looks so fake even the actors looked CGI to me.  On the other hand, Tyson’s one eye face was spectacular.  Revolting but spectacular.  And some other sequences in the film were just as much fun because of good effects.

In the end, yes I recommend Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.  It is a fun pop corn flick that kids and their parents can enjoy together.  Just don’t expect much faithfulness to the book and you’ll be just fine.


  1. I was so annoyed with the liberties taken with the first movie that I avoided watching this one, but I think I might Netflix it. I'll just do what you suggest, and pretend (as with Ella Enchanted) that it has nothing to do with the book. But... no Pierce Brosnan as Chiron? [sadness]

    1. Off the top of my head, I'd say this one and the first one are about consistent with how close they stayed to the books. If you can live with that, go for it. If not, you might want to skip it.