Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Not a tame Lion - redux

Edited to 500 words per the Radioblogger content rules.

I watched the Narnia movie with my older three kids, ages 10, 7, and 6. They are very well-acquainted with fantasy-adventure films and computer-generated special effects, with the Narnia story, and as Christians, with the "back-story".

I found the opening scenes deeply moving, but then things slowed down. The family dynamic among the kids was lacking - they felt more like cousins than siblings. Lucy does light up the screen, though. Mrs. Macreedy seemed to be channeling Professor McGonagal, though, and the Professor seemed cartoonish.

When Lucy finally met Mr. Tumnus, I wanted to scream, "Don't you KNOW about strangers!?!?!?!" I had to keep reminding myself that this story was written long before Amber Alerts became common. Still, when he began to weep about "what he's going to do" I got a serious case of the creeps.

The older children's treatment of Lucy when she returned with her fantastic tale was utterly believable. Jadis the White Witch felt a bit cartoonish, but she positively exudes evil.

I wondered why the children weren't complaining about wet, cold feet. But hey, this is fantasy. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver felt like a real married couple. - we're accustomed to CGI characters, and the dialogue works. The encounter with Father Christmas felt contrived - too much deus ex machina. Lucy's pointed comment to her siblings made it entirely worthwhile, though. The camp of the Narnian army had a magical-yet-believable feel. The armor of the fauns and especially the centaurs looked right. Aslan's facial expressions were ... just ... real. Liam Neeson's voice wanted more rumbly resonance, but when Jadis asks him after their conference how she can be sure he'll keep his promise, the Lion's reaction is perfect.

When Aslan presents himself at the Stone Table, the evil and hatred of Jadis' minions is palpable. The sadness and resignation in the Lion's eyes is real. Oddly, it's the humans - Lucy and Susan - who lack emotion. They should show real shock, horror, and sadness. They don't. If there's a real flat spot in the film, that's it. But as we all know, death has no power over Aslan, as it had no power over Christ. The innocent who willingly gives his life for the guilty fulfills the Deep Magic and shatters the Stone Table.

The battle scenes are fantastic - one simply believes that centaurs and minotaurs are battling hand-to-hand, and that beavers wear chain mail.

Aslan arrives, Jadis is vanquished, and the childen are enthoned at Cair Paravel. Years later, they stumble back through the wardrobe just as the Professor enters the room.

That exchange is my favorite from the whole film. :-)

Overall impressions: As a fantasy film on its own merits, A-. Though some of the storytelling and acting falls short of perfection, Narnia feels as real as Hogwarts or Middle-Earth.

As a film adaptation of C.S. Lewis's classic, a solid A.

As an entertaining family film, A++. My kids – even the jaded 10-year-old - pronounced it, "the best movie ever."


JCB said...

You know what? The editing process because of that 500 word limit made this a better review. The quality of your prose is definitely higher the second time around.

Corrie said...

Thanks, Joe. I thought it was a lot tighter, too. I'm a big fan of good editors, having worked with them on a number of multimedia projects. It takes a lot more effort to write something short than write something long.