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December 10th, 2005


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07:49 pm - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Ellen and I saw The Chronicles of Narnia 2: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Well, actually, it's the first movie and is based on the first book in the series, but it's the second story chronologically, hence the 2. Anyway.

Overall I enjoyed it and wouldn't dream of telling anybody not to see it. It's gorgeous, well-directed, designed, and casted. C.S. Lewis was adamant that The Chronicles of Narnia should never be adapted to screen because he thought they would come out looking silly. Of course, he said that years before the advent of CGI, THX, and Jar-Jar Binks (who (let's be honest) did come out looking silly). The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe lives and breathes. I think this is the movie Lewis feared would be impossible.

The world of Narnia is an incredible achievement, on par with the Middle Earth of LOTR, which blazed a lot of the same trails. Director Andrew Adamson first flexed his effects muscles on Joel Schumacher's Batman films and Toys, all of which are so otherwise flawed that their visual design tends to be sadly overlooked. More recently he directed both Shrek movies. Between these qualifications, Adamson's dominion would appear to be breathtaking, demographic-spanning fantasy. And he is its master.

The casting is good. I don't have a lot to say about the kids, which is more a positive review than it sounds. Liam Neeson turns out to be a fantastic voice actor, and Tilda Swinton (who is finally getting more work in mainstream films) is effectively cold as the White Witch (I didn't see the joke when I first wrote that, incidentally). Jim Broadbent shows up in the small role of Professor Kirke and Ray Winstone voices Mr. Beaver (yeah, no kiddin' -- Ray Winstone). These are the sort of things you find amusing if you're me.

Having said all of that, Lord of the Rings it's not. I was a little disappointed that the movie played so much to the under ten demographic and not enough to the rest of us. You get comfortable with the cutesy look and feel of everything, and then three quarters of the way through the movie, people start getting their heads chopped off in the battle (oh yeah, for those unfamiliar, there's a battle three quarters of the way through the story. Sorry to have spoiled that plot point). All in all though, a good effort. Simply by virtue of being a Disney film, it's not destined to be forgotten any time soon, but I don't think it's going to be the LOTR-killer early previews were making it out to be. I think I like the late-'80s BBC version of the story better, but that might be the nostalgia talking since I haven't seen it in twelve years.

I'll also be curious to hear how Christian fundamentalists react to the movie, as it's just as violent and otherwise objectionable (minus the religious subtext) as other PG-level fantasy films. I guess I'd like to hear the reaction of the militant atheists I know, too. About two weeks ago I participated in a loud and aggressive argument with one of them about whether Lewis had meant for the books to resonate as Christian allegory, and I wish I'd had Internet access at the time so that I could pull up these quotes (taken from this news story):
"The whole Narnian story is about Christ."

"That is to say, I asked myself, 'Supposing that there really was a world like Narnia and supposing it had (like our world) gone wrong and supposing Christ wanted to go into that world and save it (as He did ours) what might have happened?' The stories are my answers."
We also saw the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean and The Temple of Doom (at least, that's what it looks like to me). Will I love it or won't I? I'm betting this is going to be the low-point of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. With any luck, I'm setting myself up for such a colossally bad movie that when it turns out to be merely halfway decent, I'll love it. Or maybe not. I can't really tell because all they show you in the trailer is action. Action-based trailers usually don't do much more than point out that a movie is coming, and that it apparently features some explosions (unless we're talking about like, Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, in which case that's all you need). Davey Jones appears to have been imagined by H.P. Lovecraft via Ramsey Campbell, which is... interesting.
Current Mood: depresseddepressed
Current Music: Edmund Welles -- Creep

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Comments:


[User Picture]
From:r3507
Date:December 11th, 2005 04:38 am (UTC)
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How could you forget Tilda's stunning turn as the angel Gabriel in Constantine? I'm not sure if it qualifies as a major motion picture, but it certainly had a large budget (which helped) and large names (which didn't).
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:December 11th, 2005 04:56 am (UTC)
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Actually, I did remember Constantine, and was considering it when I wrote that. I guess what I mean is that after years of being obscure and unnoticed she's finally -- recently -- been playing major characters in stuff you've heard of. I really like Tilda Swinton. I'm not sure why. She's not exactly a sex symbol.

I've never really considered the phrase "major motion picture" before. If we discussed it, my definition would be really ambiguous. I guess when I use that phrase it has to do with how a film is marketed. I consider Constantine a major motion picture because (as you mentioned) it had a big budget, big names, and they advertised the hell out of it.

Actually, given that we're talking about Constantine, they advertised the Hell in it. But you know what I mean.
[User Picture]
From:wyrdsatyr
Date:December 11th, 2005 10:47 am (UTC)
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I can't wait to see this (this Friday most likely) Tilda as Jadis is definately going to be one of the highlights of my week
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:December 11th, 2005 03:42 pm (UTC)
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Let us know what you think of it. I'm assuming that since you know the White Witch's name, you probably remember the book better than I do.
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From:seanorange
Date:December 11th, 2005 08:06 pm (UTC)
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I just saw it last night. Would it be bad if I dredged up the "Allegory Factor"? Because I couldn't help buy notice what were (to me) some pretty blatant parallels. Or maybe it was the writing and/or delivery, but when I hear lines like "he's not a tame lion", I could almost feel everyone onscreen wink at the camera.

It's not that I want to hail these parallels as some kind of marvel of "righteous" filmmaking, but rather I'm disappointed in them because it took away from my enjoyment of the film. Maybe what didn't help was a conversation I had with my dad the day before we went to see it, and the satisfied grunt he gave when the stone table split in two and Aslan rose from the dead...

Ugh ugh ugh.

~Sean
[User Picture]
From:sacredspud
Date:December 12th, 2005 01:02 am (UTC)
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The parallels are blatant, but the theology in the Chronicles of Narnia just doesn't bother me, probably because I was completely expecting it. I don't know off the top of my head whether "he's not a tame lion" was extracted from the book, but were C.S. Lewis alive and involved in the production of this movie, I bet he'd have emphasized the line in the same way.

I do think, however, that the Christian elements of the film are very much a bone thrown to the evangelical audience who spend considerably more time denouncing movies than promoting them. You couldn't make a secular movie out of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and still have it be book-accurate, but I think they're playing it up in the hopes of attracting the audience that vocally disapproves of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter.
[User Picture]
From:seanorange
Date:December 12th, 2005 05:38 am (UTC)
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Don't they know that C.S. Lewis is one of the reasons that Lord of the Rings ever saw print? And that those two were instrumental in bolstering each other's faiths?

One line you didn't quote from that article was about how Lewis was always fascinated by how Christianity sprang from pagan practice. That's terribly interesting to me, because I know something about that, but I have a suspicion that if you mention that current Christian practice has ANYTHING to do with paganism and they'll deny it until they're blue in the face...

~Sean
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From:koriandrkitten
Date:December 12th, 2005 09:11 pm (UTC)
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And here I thought I was the only one to have seen the older movies. Now we just wait for them to redo Prince Caspian and the Silver Chair.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe - Garmonbozia for the soul.

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