Today, we welcome our former intern and current Executive Assistant, Hayley Schoeppler, back to the site. She’s is the one who covered Percy Jackson this summer in her post on The Lightning Thief.
Before we jump into Hayley’s review of the latest Percy Jackson movie now hitting theaters, I thought I’d give you a few more RR links. Janie Cheaney, matriarch of the Redeemedreader enterprise, wrote about Rick Roirdan’s series in Among the Pagans: Percy Jackson and the Olympians. It’s a careful Christian critique not only of the books, but how folks have responded to them. Worried about the pagan religious angle of Riordan’s movies and books? Janie covers that, too, in the previous post as well as Among the Pagans: Bartimaeus.
Review of Sea of Monsters (the movie) by Hayley Schoeppler
“In Demigods We Trust” proclaims the movie poster. Forgetting the theological implications of this statement (which Janie has already addressed in the links above), can we trust Sea of Monsters to deliver 146 minutes of entertainment? More importantly, can Percy Jackson trust himself? That question is one Percy wrestles with in this movie. Was all his success in The Lightning Thief beginner’s luck? Can he live up to the destiny promised by an ominous prophecy?
At first the movie follows the book, and a group sets out from Camp Half-Blood to retrieve the golden fleece. This fleece, the same golden fleece of classical mythology, is the only thing that can save Camp Half-Blood from a dangerous fate. To get the fleece, Percy and his friends must travel to the Sea of Monsters which contains, well, monsters. Meanwhile Luke Castellan reappears plotting a vengeance that will topple Olympus and overturn the world as we know it. On the surface it’s the making of a fine adventure, but one which the movie falters in delivering.
Percy himself is a problem. Instead of sticking with the book’s plot, the movie strikes out into new waters. The fun-loving, sword-wielding, monster-slaying adolescent punk of the books is made into a somber, serious, and slightly conflicted teenager with continuing doubts concerning his relationship with his father. It doesn’t help when ‘Dad’ sends him a half-brother who happens to be a cyclops. Or that Annabeth refuses to accept Percy’s new sibling.
Added to this, Grover, always good for a laugh, is absent for half the adventure. While there are laughs along the way, most of the movie is shot in a stormy, dark setting that never rises to epic adventure nor drops to fun excitement but keeps a mediocre middle-ground.
Is Sea of Monsters worth a trip to the movie theater? If you have a couple of mythology-loving, middle grade, Percy Jackson enthusiasts, it just might be. My only word of caution is that, apparently for the sake of a PG rating, there is a sprinkling of mild language.
On the upside, this movie could be a good incentive to go home and pick up the next book. In a surprise return to the book’s plot, the movie ends with a dangling question. However, without middle-grade enthusiasts to tag along, I’d give this movie a pass. Demigods cannot be trusted to provide anything beyond a meandering adventure through monster-infested waters. And compared to a classic fantasy adventure movie like The Princess Bride, I’d take eel-infested waters any day.