Movie: Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters

"Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters"

Percy Jackson, the son of Poseidon, continues his epic journey to fulfill his destiny, as he teams with his demigod friends to retrieve the Golden Fleece, which has the power to save their home and training ground, Camp Half-Blood.

There was too little Nathan Fillion and Anthony Stewart Head for my liking.

No, but seriously, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters must be one of the worst adaptations I’ve ever seen. And that’s including The Lightning Thief. How? Well…

Number one, it doesn’t respect the source material. Seriously. One of the things you need to do when you adapt a book into a movie is to respect the material. You don’t have to stay completely true to it, but you have to keep the essence of what makes the book well-loved by fans. When you treat the story like shit, you’re treating the fans the same way.

I don’t like being treated like shit.

Now, to put things in perspective, I want to share why Prisoner of Azkaban is one of the best movie adaptations in my opinion. Don’t worry, this will be short. Basically, in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie, the screenplay writer and the director took the parts of the book that would make the most sense in the context of the film universe, the parts that would make the movie look good, and then made sure that it kept to the message that the book wanted to put across: that we mustn’t judge others based on what we hear about them.

That movie did a great job.

Sea of Monsters actually has the same message. sort of. But the most important part of the book, for me, was the fact that this was about Percy Jackson coming to his own. The first book had him rely a lot on Annabeth, Grover, and the other kids at the camp. Sea of Monsters was his quest taken away from him, and his journey to find out who he is, and what he is capable of.

His main problem is belonging.

Instead, we are treated to what is supposed to be a series of eye-candies: a battle aboard a ship, a daring escape, and a chase scene that was supposed to scare us into thinking that our heroes are doomed. Instead of getting intelligent solutions to problems posed to our heroes, we see just how lucky they can get.

Everything is planted clearly. Everything is handed to our heroes on a silver plate. By the end of the movie, our heroes learn nothing. They do not grow.

The source material was treated like shit.

I’m supposed to go to number two now, but that’s mostly me griping about the changes made from book to film. I understand the need to make it more visually appealing for the tween audiences. But couldn’t they have at least tried to make it make sense?

Seriously, an amusement park in an island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle? Someone definitely didn’t think things through.

Being a writer, I know how hard it is to adapt something that isn’t originally yours. Especially when you have to stay fateful, but don’t have enough airing time to do show everything important. That’s why we have creative licenses. That’s why we adapt instead of dramatize. Looking into the end product we get with Sea of Monsters, I had to wonder: how hard was it to adapt the book? Had I been writing it, I definitely would’ve done it a lot differently.

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Movie: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

"The Perks of Being a Wallflower"

Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a modern classic that captures the dizzying highs and crushing lows of growing up. Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a moving tale of love, loss, fear and hope-and the unforgettable friends that help us through life.

No expectations. That’s very important when watching movies adapted from books. But I’m not always successful with, even, lowering expectations. Especially with books I really liked. And I failed once again while watching The Perks of Being a Wallflower. But you know? It didn’t matter.

Adaptations have a tendency to cram everything loved from a book into the film version. This movie doesn’t do that. Maybe it’s because the person who wrote and directed the movie was also the person who wrote the book. He knew what needed to be in the film. And he knew what it could do without.

Whatever reservations I had for the book didn’t materialize while watching the film adaptation. Unlike the novel, the movie didn’t feel like it was just another coming-of-age film. From the moment it opens, you could feel its identity.

And that’s another thing I liked about the book that I forgot to mention. While it felt run-of-the-mill at first, it quickly established its own identity.

Which then translated really well on screen.

Again, maybe it’s because it’s not a direct adaptation. Maybe it’s because the author was also the creative mind and hand behind the movie.

At the end of the day though, it doesn’t matter what may be the reason. What’s important is that the movie works.

I’m not a fan of Logan Lerman. Mostly because I didn’t really like the film adaptation of Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and he’s front and center in that film. But in The Perks of Being a Wallflower though, Lerman plays a great lead.

I was afraid that Charlie’s problem of being too emotional would look weird once it’s off the pages. But Lerman plays the role with a quiet intensity that the crying does feel very natural. It’s not cinematic at all.

And the innocence he carries with him is so palpable that you really do believe that Charlie, even with his good looks, can be an outcast in their school.

The only problem I had with his acting was when he was kissing Emma Watson. Jealousy at him being able to kiss Emma Watson aside, he has a tendency to drop the innocence of Charlie whenever he kisses his leading lady. Or even the girl who plays his girlfriend. Thing is, if it had been just Sam (Emma Watson’s character) who he kisses without innocence, I think I would’ve let it go. It fits with the character anyway. But it’s not a one-off thing. And it really doesn’t fit the character he builds throughout the movie.

Emma Watson and Ezra Miller also shine in the movie. But I feel that, because the movie had to focus more on Charlie’s life, their characterization and arcs had to be sacrificed. Which, I feel, shafted the actors who were brilliant. But, for the sake of the movie, it was a wise decision. The film was much more focused than the book because of it.

The one actress who really does get shafted is Nina Dobrev. Her character is the one I really rooted for, while reading the book. She was the one who really had to go through sufferings to learn and become a better person. Which, seeing as the movie narrowed its focus on just Charlie, had to be cut out. And I understand. The movie is all the better for it.

But I still can’t help but feel sad that it had to be cut out.

What didn’t get cut out though, and which I really enjoyed, was The Rocky Horror Picture Show sequences. In the book, it had a much bigger significance, as it symbolized Charlie’s growing emotions. I’m not sure what it added to the movie though, aside from the eye-candy. And seeing people’s surprised reaction at the shot of Susan Sarandon singing “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me.”

Overall, I say the film is perfect. Even more so than the book. And this is the first time I’m saying this since The Lord of the Rings got translated into the big screen.

And it doesn’t matter if you’ve read the book or not. The movie doesn’t disappoint. I urge you to watch it.