It has now been 8 years since the Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters film was released. Since many readers are exploring what went wrong with the films in light of the Disney+ Percy Jackson TV show news, let’s explore exactly why Sea of Monsters flopped on the big screen.
Mismatched Character Traits
One of the most obvious issues with this film was that it disregarded most of the character development portrayed in the books.
Nearly every character had different motivations in this film, and it messed too much with the story as a whole. For example, the original Percy cares deeply about his friends, and mostly partakes in quests because he knows it will help him and the other demigods, but the Percy in this film accepted a quest to be competitive against Clarisse, daughter of Ares. Similar to the first film, Grover was shown as an over-confident, party-animal type of character who is mostly used for comedic effect, though in the books he is timid and down to earth. This removed a lot of the meaning in his character background, as well as his relationship with Annabeth from when they were kids.
Annabeth, while rightfully blonde in this film, had almost no impact on the story. In the books, she’s a clever and knowledgable daughter of Athena, but in the film her character was reduced to someone who knows little and does little. Many of the book’s scenes where Annabeth comes up with clever ideas were scrapped entirely, such as the chariot race from the beginning, and were replaced with meaningless fight scenes that just pass the time. She also had very few one-on-one scenes with Percy, and their friendship was barely developed in this film.
Clarisse’s character was also given the short end of the stick. While she’s rude and witty in the books, she was just average in the Sea of Monsters film. Book Clarisse is highly determined to complete the quest in order to prove herself to her father Ares, the god of war. The film’s portrayal of her lacked this depth and labeled her as a go-with-the-flow kind of person who got along easily with the other characters, which is totally unlike the real Clarisse. These character changes took away the book’s group dynamic, which is a shame, because the characters are some of the best aspects of this series.
Even people who have never read the books could tell that this film is all over the place.
Rather than using the prophecy from the Sea of Monsters book, the filmmakers mixed it in with the Great Prophecy from the last several books, making this plot point messy and confusing. While the reveal of the Great Prophecy in the books was a big moment for Percy, since he had been waiting to hear it for years, it was too rushed to make an impact in the film.
Because they aged the characters so much, the film stated that the Great Prophecy was about a 21-year-old, meaning that film-Percy would likely fulfill the prophecy a few movies down that line. But honestly, the filmmakers messed this series up so much that those other films were never made, making this prophecy scene and the ending scene with Thalia’s revival meaningless.
Even if there had been a total of 5 films, the filmmakers included too many scenes from later books in this second film. What would have happened if they made it, say, four films in? They would have had no choice but to create more new and vaguely coherent scenes, causing a whole other mess to deal with.
Lack of Attention to the Canon
The story was also inconsistent with things that the writers made up for the first film! In the Lighting Thief movie, Percy didn’t use his water abilities much until the fight scene with Luke at the end, where he managed to defeat him temporarily and end the film’s main conflict without much help from Grover or Annabeth; however, this scene never happened in the book. In a plot twist, Luke was revealed as the one who had been messing up Percy’s quest the whole time, and after the reveal he sets up Percy to be stabbed by a scorpion and escapes from Camp Half-Blood. Percy’s doesn’t fight Luke until much later on in the series, and this Lighting Thief scene makes those later fight scenes more impactful.
In the Sea of Monsters film, Percy doubted that he was anything special and claimed that he was only able to defeat Luke in the previous movie because of his friends. This is false, however, since his friends didn’t help him there at all! This scene and others from the Sea of Monsters film showed that the filmmakers were not just confused on how to include canon scenes in their movies but also on how to stay consistent with their own timeline.
While this film was disordered and lacked depth, at least we know it can only get better from here. We hope the Disney+ adaptation of this delightful series is more understanding of Riordan’s intentions, and we can’t wait to hear more news soon!
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