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Monday, December 12, 2005

We Done Saw Us Some Narnia This Weekend

We did. And I liked it - a lot - but I didn't love it.

I'll admit, I'm a bit of a Narnia geek - I read all the books last year and I went off on an obsessive study of the books for a while - so I might be a tough crowd for a modern-day Disney big-budget adaptation. I was impressed with the amount of detail they put into the film, right down to the bluebottle dying on the windowsill. I think the intention was to make a film that was painfully true to the book, and I think they more or less succeeded.

Tilda Swinson was MAGNIFICENT as the witch. She was like a shark or a snake - just pure heartless predatory hate on legs. Her costumes were amazing, her makeup was sexy and horrific at the same time, her eyes were cold, evil and dead. She was 1,000 percent VILLAIN.

The kids were great, too - too often, kid actors = annoying and shrill. The four Pevensie siblings were actually charming and moody, kind of like actual human beings instead of pamperered child actors. Go figure!

Also, the CGI wasn't terribly distracting, though at times some of the talking animal characters would lapse into the realm of the cutesie (particularly Mr. & Mrs. Beaver, which I suppose couldn't be helped). The unicorn, griffins, phoenixes, tree spirits, etc. were all gorgeously done.
My biggest complaint - and for a movie I otherwise really enjoyed, this complaint is a bit of a whopper - is with the lion of the hour: Aslan.

The lion looked great - the CGI and the puppets/dummies blended well to give a seemless illusion of a real talking lion. Liam Neeson was a good choice for the lion's voice. Technically, they did a fine job. But Aslan wasn't "big" enough. In the book, his roar was terrifying and deafening. In the movie, it was simply loud. In the book, his affection for the children was intoxicating. In the movie, yeah, he got along with them fine, but the connection never really happened.
In the movie's 2 and a half hours, we were given enough time to be in awe of Aslan as the leader of Narnia, but we weren't given the opportunity to grasp why we're meant to be in awe of him. And what a freakin' playground of character development he is: a Christ metaphor in the form of a talking lion who rules a magical land of fairy tale creatures. GO WITH IT! The book succeeds in this. The film attempts and, in my opinion, fails valiantly.

I will say this, however: the stone table scene is as heartbreaking as a PG film can get.

My other gripe with the film was its ending - specifically, the ending credits. If you stick around for a minute, you'll get a little blip of epilogue between the Professor and Lucy. Sure, it was in the book, but the way it was tossed in the credits came off as superfluous and insulting to me. Also, do we need to end something as timeless as a C.S. Lewis adaptation with Alanis Morrissette songs? Hell, even Enya would have been a better choice.

Minor quibbles though...even the semi-defanged Aslan doesn't quite ruin the film as a whole. It's a great, intelligently-made holiday fantasy film that the kiddies will love (though Tilda will scare the crap out of them).


Blogger sep said...

Exactly!!! I was waiting for the roar to shake the rafters of the movie theater. I mean, with all that dolby sound crap and the bit before the movies with the cows in surround sound, you'd think they could make his roar more convincing.

And the music, oh the music! None of it is memorable. No magnificient ending song, no wonderful soundtrack to purchase for xmas - that, at least, was one thing the LOTR folks got right.

10:24 AM, December 12, 2005  

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