Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Movie Review: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

Please note: I intend to review the first movie and the books. I am reviewing this one first because it is currently in theaters.
Also, I do not claim to mention everything that could be listed under the "Word of Warning" section. My goal is to mention as much as possible, focusing on mentioning most (if not all) bigger problems and as many small ones as I can remember.

Title: Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Author: Fox 2000 Pictures
Genre: Adventure, fantasy, mythology
My Rating: *****
Official Rating: PG (for fantasy action violence, some scary images, and mild language)
Age Group: 12+

Life seems to be working out for Percy Jackson. He's found a place where he fits in (mostly) and isn't being attacked by vicious monsters anymore. In fact, he's got it so good that he even has time to slow down and do some thinking. That's when it hits him (with a little help from Clarisse): he's not as good as people say he is. More accurately: he's finding it a bit hard to live up to what he imagines his father's expectations are. Especially when he discovers a brother--who happens to be a Cyclops.
Enter Luke. Apparently the guy can swim and wasn't killed in the first movie after all. Luke has a plan, and that involves the end of the world and the resurrection of Kronos, the evil Titan lord. It also involves Thalia's death. Well, it involves the death of the tree she's become (long story). This tree protects Camp Half-Blood and without it, all the demigods and other mythological characters are pretty much doomed to a terrible end.
Clarisse is picked to go on a quest to save the camp and the whole world.
That doesn't do much good for Percy's personal struggle, but he takes off on his own little quest anyway. Things don't go as planned and the end of the world is quickly approaching.

SPOILER ALERT for the following sections.

Word of Warning
  • The movie starts with three young children running for their lives from a few Cyclops. One is hurt by a falling tree, and a little girl offers to hold off the monsters to save the others. She sacrifices her own life, but her father (Zeus) turns her into a tree so she can continue living and protect the camp at the same time.
  • Tyson (the Cyclops) looks a little disturbing with one eye but for much of the movie this is solved with spray-on Mist or sunglasses. He acts very immature and the movie fails to explain this is because in Cyclops years he is barely older than a baby. He is referred to as a sort of failure, the son of Poseidon and a naiad, a monster of sorts.
  • The Greek gods are the center of these kids' universe, which results in almost no Christian references. The kids don't exactly worship their parents, however. They just realize these gods are more powerful than themselves and are respectful out of fear (most of the time). When they do meet one, they do not fall to their knees and worship.
  • The kids all have Greek gods for parents on one side and humans for parents on the other. For example, Percy's father is Poseidon, and his mother is a human (who isn't in this particular movie). This is not dwelt upon (it's a fact for all the kids at camp) and not explained. However, different children who have the same Greek parent do not have the same human parent. This is a theme in Greek mythology, but can be especially disturbing when put into a modern perspective.
  • Dionysus says, after his wine turns into water, "The Christians have a guy who can do this in reverse. Now that's a god." He likes his wine (he's the god of it!) but because of a relationship (no details given) with a naiad that Zeus liked as well, he has been punished. All his wine turns to water before he can drink it.
  • The camp directors aren't too concerned about the safety of the kids. Granted, they don't want anyone dying, but they know it's going to happen at some point and aren't overly protective. Kids play games with weapons (attacking each other) and climb up giant spinning structures where they fall off and are sometimes carted away on stretchers (in the background). It's a contest, so they're not above pushing each other off and using dirty tricks to win.
  • Percy gets hurt. Repeatedly. He is bruised by the spinning structure competition in the beginning and falls off, not getting up right away. Later, a bull drags him through things and across a brick-paved road, resulting in a few minor (but realistic) bloody cuts on his face. He's involved in swordfights and is bloodied again later. Lucky for him, by touching water he can be completely healed.
  • A bull has a sort of flamethrower that he aims right at Tyson. Tyson is engulfed in the flames and is completely unharmed (Cyclops are nearly invincible). Later, he takes an arrow for Percy, right in the stomach, and falls over a cliff, apparently dead. He's not, and returns later (having been healed by water).
  • The kids get a ride from Three Fates who drive a taxi. They only have one eye, which they must take turns using. This results in a crazy and dangerous ride, as well as the eyeball bouncing around the back of the car until Percy picks it up and uses it to bargain with them for information.
  • Annabeth, like the others, is tossed around a bit and gets into some battles. Eventually, she is stabbed in the stomach (from the back) by a beast. She dies. And is resurrected by the Golden Fleece, but not before we're almost convinced she's not going to live through this.
  • Various battles involving swords and punching. Characters generally don't die on screen but are hurt, tossed around, and disappear off screen when it looks pretty serious and they're not a main character.
  • Clarisse is the daughter of Ares, god of war. He loans her a ship from the Civil War for her quest. The ship is run by dead Confederate Soldiers who gave their lives for Ares (as they prefer to be referred to), but they'll accept zombies too. They look gray, have sunken cheeks, and have hollow looking eyes, but are not as graphic (no blood and gore) as most zombies are. In fact, it's almost easy to forget they're meant to be zombies.
  • A few of the main characters are swallowed by a giant monster and end up in its stomach. They're in danger of being digested before they blast a hole in its stomach and sail out, barely escaping.
  • Words: oh my gods, d**mit, d**n, Hades and Styx are also used. Tyson says "bull" and the others misinterpret this as the beginning of a swearword, but then he explains that he smells a bull, which then charges into camp and almost kills everyone.
  • Kronos was so cruel he ate his own children (we see this in the form of pictures that look like colored glass windows). He is resurrected and his body is made up of pieces of flesh that look like chunks of lava. They fly around as he assembles. He looks something like a rock-monster or transformer-ish. He later falls apart again and is back to being "dead."
  • Annabeth is rude to Tyson, but we find out later that this is the result of a traumatic event she suffered in her childhood. Not an excuse, but at least an explanation for her nastiness.
  • Grover pretends to be a chambermaid so that he does not get eaten.
  • Cyclops eat people and that's a known fact. At one point it is revealed that an amusement park was opened and demigods lined up to have fun, then were eaten by the Cyclops.
  • The kids get on a ride called "The Plummet of Death" to find the Cyclops. It is slow, squeaky, and extremely anticlimactic.
  • Mythical beasts are shown, Cyclops, and the gods.
  • Percy and Annabeth hug at least five times, almost always after moments where one of the two almost died. This isn't of much concern, but it is a hint at a slowly developing romance. There is nothing beyond the hugs.
Good Points
I don't usually do a section like this, but this movie deserves one only because it's good points are not clear in contrast to all the stuff that deserves a warning. So, borrowing an idea from Stacy, here are just a few good points of this movie.
  • The line from Dionysus: "The Christians have a guy who can do this in reverse. Now that's a god." It might be the only direct (or indirect) reference to Christianity in the film, and it was awesome.
  • Percy does come to terms with not being as good as he thinks Poseidon wants him to be. This is a journey aided by Tyson, his brother (who, at first, he didn't want).
  • Percy helps Tyson to realize that he's great just as he is, even if he only has one eye.
  • Percy selflessly allows Clarisse to bring the Fleece back to camp and save the day even though it's probably very tempting for him to do that (especially considering his personal struggle).
  • Tyson sacrifices his life to save Percy.
  • Tyson, Annabeth, Percy, and Grover decide to help Clarisse even though she is generally rather rude and cruel to them. Clarisse learns her lesson and manages to at least acknowledge some of their kindness.
  • There is a strong bond of friendship between the four main characters (Tyson, Annabeth, Percy, and Grover). This results in moments where they risk it all to save each other from harm and also small random acts of kindness.
  • Some of these small random acts of kindness might be the result of a slowly developing romance between Percy and Annabeth. Percy is enough of a gentleman (though where he learned this we have no idea) to help her off of a "sea horse" and out of a carnival ride. The romance itself is sweet and hardly develops at all (consistent with the books).

My Thoughts
For the book purist, this is not a movie you'd enjoy.
Did I love the books? Yes, I loved the books. They were amazing (for reasons I will explain in another post). This movie was amazing too even though it wasn't as accurate as we were lead to believe it would be. At first, I felt a little disappointed. Then, I didn't care. The adventure was so fun, the acting so good, and the whole thing so well done, that it just didn't matter how accurate it was.
One thing to keep in mind is that it is Greek mythology, and characters do encounter near-death situations. This gives it a very high PG rating, possibly even a low PG-13 rating. It really depends on what the kids can handle.
For those who can handle this, they are in for a wild and great adventure.
Me? I saw it twice. Within two days. And I'd gladly see it again.

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