Saturday, March 22, 2008

Movie Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

So you may have noticed that I only review books and movies long after they have been released. I would love for you to believe that I do so only because I care so much about writing quality reviews that I need to see/read it multiple times, or think about it for a while before I write about it.

But those things wouldn't be true, would they? The truth is G and I haven't seen anything that resembles a new release in years. I suppose we saw Enchanted while it was on the tail end of its run at the dollar theater. We have such a backlog of books and movies to consume we probably won't see anything "new" for a few more years yet (unless the screen writers guild gets upitty again).

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (6 out of 7 stars)

Lets get The Bad out of the way first.

The special effects. I'm usually blind to bad special effects but the green screens in this movie just grated on me. After the second time G and I had to stop and stare at a few stills to figure out what made it so patently obvious the actors were not in fact standing in front of the background. We tried to think through color, focus, depth of field, film grain, and lighting (can you tell G likes cameras?). We both think the most obvious problem was the lighting. The act(or/resse)s all looked like they had a spotlight about 2 feet from their faces and the trees behind them looked like they were filmed in the haze immediately following Mount Saint Helens. The lion looked cool though

The witch was just creepy. Not in an evil witch way. More like in the "What are you trying to pretend you're an evil witch or something?" way. G kept wondering whether she was a football player or a Rastafarian or what? No seriously, we both suspect that the actress just couldn't muster the "presence" the role demanded so they tried to patch it up with weird hairdos, odd dresses, and bizarre makeup.

Now on to the Good Stuff.

The story. I mean come on. If you thought I was on to something with the convenient platform for a story about good and evil in my post on Harry Potter you'll probably pee you pants when you think about this one. It's got it all, good and evil, talking lions, ice witches, traitors, long prophisied kings and queens, royal destiny of humans, epic battles, sacrifice, loyalty you name it. There's even some plucky comic relief from the Beavers.

Great character development, mostly about Edmund

The first scene during the bombing Edmund is running off to grab a picture of his dad, forcing Peter to risk himself to come save him. He is always making other people take risks for him, that' just how he rolls. Of course in the next scene, Peter and Susan are playing "I pick a word out of the dictionary and you guess what it means!". Pretty awesome game huh? Edmund thought so too but that's just how Peter and Susan roll.

When Lucy gets up in the middle of the night to try and go back to Narnia, there is a great shot of her putting on her shoes. We see a pair of feet sliding out of bed next to slippers and boots. Then into the boots. Thats because Lucy really believes she will be wandering in snow as soon as she gets down the hall. That's just how she rolls.

When Edmund meets the witch I thought it was telling how casually Edmund treats her. He's British. He should know not to just beg the nearest royalty for candy, but that's just how he rolls.

When Edmund runs off from the beaver's house to find the witch he leaves his coat and freezes all the way there. I suppose because it's a girls coat and Peter suggested he wear it. When he gets there he amuses himself drawing stupid faces on the "statues" because he likes to have control over other people even if they are made of rocks. That's just how he rolls.

If he's British enough to know not to go begging local royalty for candy Edmund should really know not to sit down on other people's thrones, but he likes to feel powerful so he does anyway. When Tumnus points out he's Lucy's sister he responds in perfect Edumund fashion by saying he is Edmund instead of confirming that he is in fact Lucy's brother because being his own man is just how he rolls.

When Susan and Lucy are up in the tree hiding from the wolves, Peter comes to save them and kills the wolf. Aslan knights him, clearly preparatory to the coming battle. Immediately we cut to the witch's camp where they are making all kinds of crazy weapons. It's a really cool parallel. Aslan is preparing people, the witch is preparing things. That's just how the two of them roll.

Other little touches I thought were cool.

When Lucy finds the room with the wardrobe in it there is a dying fly in one of the windowsills. I suppose it's reminiscent of the fact that you can't always get out of this room easily.

When Edmund is eating on the witches sleigh the cup he hands back to the dwarf turns back to ice as he throws it at a tree. Neat visual touch emphasizing the transient nature of what the witch can give. Also, it's really cool the way the witch talks about how she could see Edmund becoming a prince of Narnia since that is exactly what she is thinking, just in a different way from what Edmund is thinking.

When the four of them find Tumnus's house burnt out Edmund steps on the same picture of Tumnus's father Lucy was looking at when she was there. Now it is clawed and broken. I think it means Tumnus has gone to war like his father did. G thinks it reminds the viewer of the fact that Tumnus was suffering the effects of war and he has now brought them on himself and others. Or maybe it's just to drive home to the viewer that Edmund has really messed stuff up. I don't know but it's a cool touch somehow.

It's in the book but the fact that Edmund doesn't get anything from Father Christmas is cool. It's nice to see someone walk that "you can come back but you might have missed something while you were gone" line. Along the same line I like that one of the tigers at the coronation still has the mustache Edmund drew on him when he was a statue. It's nice to see that your actions can also have lasting effects on others.

There were a bunch of other ones too but I'm too tired to put those all here. All in all, cool movie.

1 comment:

azufelt said...

G-- I took a few pointers on the html... I spruced it up a little, and I'm calling it quites for now, I'm not totally pleased with it, but maybe some rest and another look tomorrow will help me conclude the project. It feels a little TOO "cutesy" even for my liking!