December 29, 2005

Gratuitous Llama Movie Review

Just got back from taking the five and seven year olds to see The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. All I can say is that there must have been some dust or mold in the theatre air because my eyes kept watering. (Shut up, man.)
Really, it was beautifully done, both in terms of scenery and portrayl of the book's characters, especially the children (although see below). As you might imagine, I am something of a sucker for heartstring-pulling that involves little girls. Lucy was absolutely enchanting.

Nonetheless, I know you would be disappointed if I didn't have just a few cranky things to say. Therefore, in order to head off a flood of protesting emails, I will offer a few general comments:

First, I don't know about other parents, but I found that this movie was right out on the edge of what my gels could take in terms of violence and scary monsters. They may not have nightmares about wolves chasing them tonight, but then again, they might. (This isn't crankiness, but more of a warning. This really isn't a kiddie film.)

Second, in terms of faithfulness to the book, the movie was pretty good, mostly fiddling with things that were not crucial to the story. I did notice that some of the dialogue was trimmed or modified to take the more obvious Christian imagery out, although the underlying themes of sacrifice and redemption remained intact. That really didn't trouble me too much. What did trouble me was where the movie messed about with the children, tinkering with their motivations and relationships. This was particularly the case with Peter. I found his constant resistance to getting involved in Narnia's affairs rather tiring after awhile. First Aragorn, now him. What is it with Hollywood and reluctant heroes these days?

That brings me to the battle scene, where it was perfectly obvious that the producers had a bad case of LOTR on the Brain. Somebody commented not long ago here about the nice "medieval" feel of the book, compared with Tolkien's massive opus. The movie keeps to this feeling pretty well until the fighting begins, at which time it is tossed away in favor of epic-scale struggle. Now, you may or may not like this sort of thing. But it's been done so often the same way now that I feel like Industrial Light & Magic is just going through the motions.

Finally, as for the addition of the Blitz scene at the beginning of the movie, what are we to make of the parallel between Heinkels dropping bombs on London and pro-Aslan eagles dropping rocks on the White Witch's army? Is the message that all war is hell? That Hitler and Aslan are morally equivalent? Or was it just decided that the two images made good visual bookends? My guess is that somebody didn't parse this out quite as carefully as they might have done.

There. I think that's about all I can find to quibble with. Oh, except for the soundtrack. Call it the Braveheart Effect, but could we have a knightly tale without obligatory Celtic-themed music for a change? I'm a Celt myself, and even I'm tired of it.

Okay, that's really it. Overall, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit and give it the Llama Robbo Stamp of Approval.

Posted by Robert at December 29, 2005 04:54 PM | TrackBack

I'm a Celt myself, and even I'm tired of it.

You're a Celt? I thought you from Git stock, myself.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie quite a bit and give it the Llama Robbo Stamp of Approval.

Blow me over with a feather ...

Posted by: Bill from INDC at December 29, 2005 08:08 PM

Overall, your review gels with what I thought - to a T. (Even to the kiddos, though it sounds as if you were not serenaded by children all through the movie crying piteously, "Mommy...I'm scared." To which I wanted to turn around and say, "Um...maybe this is too much and you should go?" Anyway.)

Only other quibble I had is that Lucy is supposed to be blonde. I'm mostly over it tho because she was (IMO) the most engaging of the children, but really - they do make something called hair dye.

We had the same dust or mold or whatever in my theater too...

Posted by: beth at December 29, 2005 08:56 PM

Bill - You must come to tea. It's Spotty Horrible Vicious Little's birthday!

Posted by: Robbo the LB at December 29, 2005 10:57 PM

Robbo -

saw it last night with the nine-year old.

agreement on a number of points:
1) LOTR imagery. Didn't the scene when the Witch's forces were gathering up their weapons seem an awful lot like the "Saruman's Orcs making weapons scene"?
2) Yes, Peter was too wimpy. What sixteen year old boy wouldn't just whack that wise-ass wolf if he had a Numenorean-sized sword?
3) I appreciated that Edmond attempted to save Peter in the battle, getting wounded in the process. Redeems his prior selfishness.

couple of other observations:
- hard time with Liam Neesen's voice for Aslan kept seeing Qui-Gon Jinn in my mind.
- the little actor who played the Witch's dwarf was the Oompa Loompa in the recent Charlie and the Chocolate factory (and Elijah Wood's double in LOTR)
- isn't it sad that these days you feel you have to lean over to your kid and remind them the Lucy shouldn't have gone with Tumnus because he was a stranger?

Posted by: Gary at December 30, 2005 09:40 AM

I think the opening Blitz could be necessary because kids today don't know from WWII, it was let's, see, 2005 minus 1940, what, 65 years ago!?!?!? Grosse Gott, the moon landings were closer to the Blitz than they are to today.
but what do I know, I didn't sync up the eagles with the Heinkels.

Posted by: rbj at December 30, 2005 02:11 PM

The same people who did creatures and weapons for LOTR (WETA) did the same for Narnia. That's why there are similarities.

Posted by: George at December 31, 2005 12:31 PM