Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sea of Monsters

Books to Movies is a feature where I review movies based off books! These reviews are for people who have read the book, so spoilers are definitely within.

Rated: PG

Is it worth watching?

As with The Lightning Thief, if you like the books, it will drive you up a wall. They changed so much that it hardly resembles the original story. But if you're just looking for a fun summer flick to go see with your friends and family, Sea of Monsters isn't the worst choice you could make. It's relatively entertaining, well made, and not ridiculously long.

Is it clean?

Yes. Again, Percy and his friends are the result of Greek gods getting together with mortals, but there are no details either visual or verbal. And the powers some of demigods weald are more like superpowers than magic. There is no language or excessive violence - it's all quite bloodless, though Percy takes a bit of a pounding when a mechanical bull breaks into Camp Half-Blood. Kronos and the Oracle might be a bit scary for younger kids.

How is the cast?

While I still maintain my opinion that Logan Lerman just isn't Percy Jackson, I have to admit that I've warmed to his portrayal a bit more than my original opinion. My biggest issue with him is he's too old. If they were making The Heroes of Olympus series, then he would actually work rather well, visually. Acting ability-wise, I almost feel like he's holding back. I watched Sea of Monsters with an open mind, and I must admit that I think Logan Lerman actually does have it in him to be the perfect Percy Jackson. But as it is, there's something lacking in his performance (which may or may not be entirely his fault), and he's just too old. Alexandra Daddario's Annabeth may have blonde hair now (well, sort of blonde), but I still don't like her as Annabeth. She doesn't come across as having an Attitude, but she's also not very useful and just lacks Annabeth's spunk. And I am still dead-set against Brandon T. Jackson's portrayal of Grover. I love Grover in the books! He's annoying in the movies. But what about the new characters and cast? Pierce Brosnan isn't Chiron anymore; Anthony Head is. And I have to admit that I liked him as Chiron. I haven't seen Anthony Head play many likable characters, so I was dubious when I found out he was the new Chiron. But it worked! Stanley Tucci was the perfect Dionysus and yes, Nathan Fillion actually worked splendidly as Hermes. I hate to admit it, because I am not - as a matter of principle - a Nathan Fillion fan, but this time I liked him. Unfortunately, that's where the good casting ends. Douglas Smith was not a good Tyson. Again, too old, and just . . . . not Tyson. Visually, I was fine with him, even though he really didn't look the way I imagined Tyson. But his delivery just didn't convey the personality or mentality Tyson has. Tyson's simplistic, yet perceptive, way of thinking was totally lost, and his childish curiosity nil. They got his trusting and blind faith spot on, but that's about it. Tyson's natural ability to work with metals was also never touched on, making him a pretty useless addition to their group, unfortunately, because Tyson is very useful in the book. Finally, there's Clarisse, played by Leven Rambin. Okay, she did better than I was expecting. Visually, she looked nothing like how I pictured Clarisse. I imagined Clarisse much more muscular. Not ridiculously so, but this girl had noodle arms. However, amazingly enough Leven Rambin's portrayal didn't come across as an Attitude, either. Nor did I feel Clarisse's genuine dislike for Percy, and that may be because the writers of the movie totally obliterated the feud between Percy and Clarisse's dad, Ares. So, while some of the minor characters were good, once more the major cast was faulty. Don't even get me started on Luke.

Did the story stay close to the book?

Um, no. Because they messed The Lightning Thief up so badly, there was no way Sea of Monsters could be salvaged. The movie makers were forced to make the changes that they did, though some of them they didn't have to do. The beginning is nothing like the book. Percy is a full-time camper in the movies, rather than going back out into the mortal world in between summers. So if you were hoping to see the deadly dodgeball game between Percy and the cannibalists giants, forget it; it's not there. Tyson doesn't find Percy in the outside world and protect him from monsters; he just comes wandering into Camp Half-Blood one day, at Poseidon's bidding, to keep Percy company. Yes, Thalia's tree is still poisoned, and a cure must be found before the barrier is totally broken. Clarisse is given the quest to journey to the Sea of Monsters and retrieve the Golden Fleece from Polyphemus' lair, and Percy and Co. sneak out of camp to help. Wait - what about Percy's dreams? What about Grover's quest to find Pan and getting captured by Polyphemus? Well, Grover's quest for Pan is nonexistent in the movie, and therefore so are Percy's dreams. Unlike in the book, everyone already knows where the Golden Fleece is; it's just that no one has tried to capture it. The Fleece gives off a scent that lures satyrs to Polyphemus' island, so Grover tags along with Percy's group so they can find it.

Did they even get the little things right?

Okay, so here are the changes, both medium and small: Grover does end up being captured by Polyphemus (never mind how; I don't want to give everything away), but he poses as a chambermaid, not a Cyclops bride. The quest for the Golden Fleece doesn't echo Odysseus' voyage, like in the book, because the movie makers got rid of so much: Scylla, Circe's island, even the way they distract Polyphemus. Circe's island is referenced; in the movie, she built a theme park on Polyphemus' island, but he kept eating her costumers, so she shut it down. I don't know why Circe would build a theme park; a spa, like in the book, makes much more sense. In any case, we never get to meet Circe. And because we never get to meet Circe, and Percy doesn't get turned into a guinea pig, the vitamins Hermes gives Percy are replaced with something else: a tape gun that dissolves whatever you outline with the tape. The incident with Monster Donuts is gone, which I understood because it isn't wholly important to the plot, and also they already had a hydra in the first movie. Oh, and those flesh-eating sheep Polyphemus keeps? They're gone, too. Annabeth still doesn't have her cap of invisibility, so the whole thing with taunting Polyphemus by pretending to be Nobody is cut out as well. Clarisse does still have her steamship, which I was glad to see, but it doesn't blow up at any point. Tyson almost dies in a different way, which I actually kinda liked better, because it was much more of a personal sacrifice and a deliberate protection of Percy. Tantalus is completely cut ou of the movie. When Thalia's tree is poisoned, Percy immediately discovers that Luke is responsible, so Chiron isn't dismissed from the camp. There are no chariot races and no vicious pigeons. You can forget about meeting the Party Ponies, too. The makers also changed the rules of the Mist. It isn't a supernatural occurrence that keeps mortals from seeing the unexplainable; it's a spray that can cover up the abnormal temporarily - like Tyson's one eye. Probably the most annoying little thing for me, though, was the Golden Fleece itself. It wasn't a fleece - it was a skin with pretty gold patterns sewn into it. Sorry, but that's not how I picture the Fleece - at all. And probably the biggest "little" thing they changed was the prophecy. They expanded it to not only include future events, but what would also happen on the quest for the Golden Fleece. Don't worry, though - the hippocampus is still in the movie - and he's really awesome - and the mechanical bull, which is also really awesome.

But the ending is good, right?

It's different. Very different. Because it's a movie, the makers upped the showdown between Luke and Percy by a lot. And when I say a lot, I mean to the point where Luke actually uses the Fleece to resurrect Kronos - which, by the way, totally didn't happen in the book! That's what Luke planned on using the Fleece for, but it didn't actually happen. And while Kronos is actually rather intimidating in the book, he isn't at all in the movie. And if Luke truly died at the end, that's going to seriously mess up future movies, because Luke - as we Readers all know - is more than a little important in the later stories.

So if I absolutely adore the book, will I like the movie?

Quite honestly, I actually cannot give a straightforward yes-or-no answer, which I wasn't expecting. Yes, the movie is entirely different. But because of what they did to the first one, they really had no choice but to change a lot of things. And also, I can appreciate them not wanting to make a 2-hour+ long movie, which is what they would have had to do to keep it strictly like the book. The actors were not the best choices for the characters, but they are still good actors and I got used to them - except Grover and Tyson. As a regular movie-goer, I actually enjoyed it. As a Percy Jackson fan, I was sad at the changes, but I actually have a hard time saying that I hated them. Oh, I didn't like who played Tyson and Grover, and Annabeth and Clarisse could have used some work. Percy still has potential, and I think that as  I watch the (I assume) further sequels, I may actually come to like this Percy Jackson as much as the Percy Jackson in the books. I was sad they cut out Tantalus and Circe's island, and I sad that Percy's quest didn't echo Odysseus' voyage as much as it did in the book. But again, I also appreciate that this movie wasn't 2+ hours long. What irked me the most was the end. So, I guess this is what I think: if you adore the book and hate any change of any kind, you'll hate the movie. If you adore the book, but can accept that a movie adaption needs changes - especially when they've already messed up the first movie - you'll find it entertaining, if not a little depressing that they had to make so many. If you adore the book but like it when movies are totally different, you'll love the movie equally.

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