Translating books into film hasn’t always been met with success. Some have been made into masterpieces such as “Lord of the Rings” and some have been great (Harry Potter and Hunger Games), while others have been solid but not incredible movies (Narnia). Then there have been some films that have been pretty bad. Percy Jackson looked like the perfect candidate to become the next big book series turned movie series. I myself was a pretty big fan of the novels and was pretty excited to see former “Harry Potter” director Chris Columbus take the helm for the first Percy Jackson adaptation “The Lighting Thief”. It turned out to be a disappointment, not because it was a subpar adaptation but because the film overall was subpar. Half of the actors didn’t fit their roles, the action was unexciting, and the special effects weren’t that special. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t good either, something I was willing to give another chance on. It only took 3 years to finally get the next book its big screen treatment and from the trailers it looked like it would be an improvement. This film is an improvement over the last and yet still doesn’t deliver on all of its potential, still fun and enjoyable but still has plenty of flaws but all in all you’ll have a good time yet you know there is still more the filmmakers could have done.
This film takes not long after the events of the first movie with Percy Jackson in a period of self doubt. He is unsure of himself, when Camp-Half Blood’s protective barrier is starting to die out. The only way to save the camp is to find the Golden Fleece. Percy and the rest of his friends decide to embark on a dangerous quest to find it in the sea of monsters. While Percy must also deal with the sudden realization that there is a prophecy that could potentially refer to him, that can either be good for his kind or bring the end of their days.
The story of this film sounds pretty exciting and fun. The story and the themes that go along with it are made rather poorly to say the least. Many different subplots are introduced and all of them are pretty poorly done. There are half-bloods that have turned bad and are trying to bring back Kronos are just plot inconveniences for the heroes, not once was it interesting. The adventure goes along at a brisk pass and the themes are spoken in such a heavy handed way and feel extremely forced. It really is written so younger kids can understand what they are talking about, and when did it become a need for every movie to explain every detail for the young ones?
When you’re viewing this film you’ll get the feeling, there is a lot more that could be done. All of the pieces are there to create something truly memorable. A world that you’ll want to revisit again and again and yet they don’t capitalize on it. You can make the argument that they weren’t trying to do that instead just make an entertaining movie for the whole family, but when you’re watching it you know there is potential for something a lot more than what we got.
There is yet another flaw of this film, the stakes aren’t high enough. There is a sequence (that is in the trailer) where a huge large mechanical bull goes running through camp half-blood tearing everything in its path and when it hits a camp member and attacks it, the person goes flying gently through the air and lands nicely so they don’t get hurt. This happens a lot in the film, none of these teens ever seem like they are in true danger and that takes a lot of suspense and excitement out of these sequences.
As adaptation it is better than the first one. The first film wasn’t a great adaptation and didn’t seem to stick to the spirit of the novel. When adapting a book I don’t ask for the entire book taken note for note and put onto the big screen, sure it is certainly nice but I don’t really need that. What I ask is take the spirit of the book and keep the essential elements of the story. So playing around with Percy’s age wasn’t a big deal nor was Annabeth’s hair, in the first film. However making Percy the son of Antenna would have made a difference. The only time I don’t care about the spirit or story elements of a book adaptation when you can make films that stand on their own two feet and are amazing just because they are like, like “Jurassic Park” (1993) and “The Shining” (1985).
This film is a better adaptation because it carries the spirit of the novels better than the first one did. It’s been a number of years since I’ve read the books but I know that certain story elements were change especially that horrific train wreck of an ending. However at this point two films into the series it’s no longer a viable criticism that they change thing from the series because they are really doing their own thing, and that’s fine I’ve never been a believer in copying the books at every moment possible anyways.
This time Thor Freudenthal takes over in the director’s chair and isn’t really a great replacement. Although he can make an action sequence entertaining at the very least but he isn’t especially gifted behind the lens and some of his shots scream 3D. I didn’t watch the film in 3D and it was pretty obvious that certain shots were designed to be 3D and it comes off as cheesy and out of place. I’ve never been a fan of 3D but at least make the film be able to stand out without the 3D, instead of having things right towards the screen so they would pop out when viewing the film in 3D, besides even that is a lazy overdone trick.
The acting is the same as the previous film, many actors don’t their roles, and some of them come off as wooden. Some fit them perfectly like Brandon T. Jackson and Logan Lerman. But the rest of the cast is an odd combination of actors who can’t act and actors, who can act, just in the wrong part.
As much as it seems like I have been trashing this film, there is plenty of enjoyment to be had. When the credits roll, you’ll go okay that gave me some entertainment for 2 hours but it isn’t something I would run out and buy. It has many flaws in the film, many hurt the film dearly and drag this down but I won’t deny that since this was an improvement over the first. I would be more than willing to see a 3rd installment in the franchise which would make it or break it for me. Go and take a chance on this, you’ll get some entertainment out of it, good for the family, but if you’re going for quality or you are looking to save some money I would wait for DVD or Blu-Ray to rent it.