Part of the reason I so rapidly and enthusiastically read the Percy Jackson series is because I knew I was going to an advanced screening of the movie version of the second book. (I know, my life is extremely fabulous.) Most of you probably never heard of the movie version of the first book, Percy Jackson & the Lightening Thief, because it was not heavily marketed and, in all honesty, wasn’t that good. Sea of Monsters is a vast improvement but still leaves a lot to be desired because, as is usually the case with these things, the book is so much better.
Let me start off by OBSESSING and going COMPLETELY BONKERS, as I did in the theater, over the fact that ANTHONY STEWART HEAD, AKA RUPERT GILES, PLAYS CHIRON IN THIS MOVIE. Yes, Buffy fans, our favorite watcher has returned to Hollywood in the best possible way, in pretty much the same role but training and guiding a son of Poseidon instead of a slayer. In the first movie Chiron was played by Pierce Brosnan…(pause for gagging)…so, needless to say, Giles is an infinitely better choice. My gosh I love that man.
I could give a whole list of things the movie did that the book didn’t, and vice versa, and I will probably do just that to anyone I talk to about this in person, but in order to show support for the whole Percy franchise I will focus on the positives. Sea of Monsters paid very close attention to minute details from the book, and that impresses the heck out of me. For example, Dionysus (god of wine, played perfectly by Stanley Tucci) is always dressed in loud corny outfits, such as a leopard-print short-sleeve Hawaiian shirt; his goblets of wine always turn into water because of a punishment from Zeus; Annabeth (daughter of Athena) has blonde hair, not brown — a serious error in the first movie, in my humble opinion — etc. Even if the movie muddled some major plot points, i.e. the ending, they still got the little things right. To me that says a) Riordan actually had some say in some things, and/or b) the director/screenplay writer/whoever else actually read the books.
There have been quite a few comparisons of the Percy series to Harry Potter. I haven’t read Harry Potter (much to the dismay of a select few), I’ve only seen the movies, but I prefer the world of Olympians to the world of wizardry. I relate to it more, you know? The general dynamics of each series — a group of kids with superpowers fighting evil, with one male hero and a genius female sidekick at the forefront — certainly match up, but I highly doubt Riordan was in any way trying to copy J. K. Rowling. Also, like, sci-fi is IN, guys. Wizards, witches, vampires, gods, monsters, the whole supernatural world is taking over our bookstores and our movie theaters and, truthfully, I think that’s pretty awesome.
So, do I recommend this movie? Not as emphatically as I recommend the books, but, speaking as the non-Harry-Potter-reader-but-movie-enjoyer: To each his own.