The Movie Buffer

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe


This review, like all reviews, reveals parts of the story


With the box-office successes of both Potter and Lord of the Rings, Disney has thrown it's hat into the ring of fantasy flicks with a screen adaptation of the Chronicles of Narnia. This series is beloved by just as many people who love Potter and LOTR so the studio had alot to live up to. Could this be the next big thing?

Andrew Adamson, director of Shrek and Shrek2, takes the helm of this gigantic movie (It weights in at about 2 hours and 20 minutes) and keeps the pacing up to move from one act to the next. This being said the movie is constantly driving forward with little to no time to contemplate what is happening or why it's happening. The story seems a bit rushed but to keep a child's attention the action scenes and the funy charatcer train keeps on rolling. After the initial annoyance, the older viewer becomes accustomed to the pace and the story flows easily.

The mood of the movie begins rather dark, with the kids being sent of to the country to avoid being victims of the Blitz. Then meeting their new care givers, one very strict the other very aloof. There are a few bad soundtrack choices at the start but it levels out pretty quickly. After a little sibling squabble all the kids end up getting into the wardrobe and finding themsleves in Narnia and the modd shifts rapidly into wonderment and joy: A good pick-me-up. Once in Narina the story goes full blast for about 2 hours straight. It catches most of the main parts of the book and spares all the details save the ones the viewer need to understand the story. Which is a shame because by the end there isn't much of a connection to any of the 4 main actors.

The cinematography of this movie is excellent, the graphic designers should be very proud of themsleves. They really created an unbelievably intricate world. The Ice palace and the castle at the end were amazing. The movie is worth seeing just for the world.

The acting is pretty good. If small whiny british kids get on your nerves then steer clear of this movie. There is much complaining about their situation and which side of the war they should be on. Tilda Swinton (from Adaptation, Constantine and Thumbsucker) plays the wicked white witch perfectly, she was made to play this role. Even in the battle scenes she's a convincing fighter. Lian Neeson's voice was good for Aslan. The rest of the cast was great but they recieved next no screen time.

The computer graphics in the movie were good but they got kind of spotty from time to time. There were a few scene where objects and characters would clip in and out of existence, they would be lit by a different colour of light than the rest of the scene or they would look like they were just floating in space. But as a whole the scenes with the creatures interacting with the actors are good. They needed some help splicing in the all CGI scene with the live action ones.

And now for the "big one", the Christian parts of the film! To start this one, I'm going to come out and say, I'm not a practicing Christian, I haven't read the Bible and I don't know all the details. There are alot of good lessons in this movie like how to treat people, whether they be young, old, male, female, cyclops or centaur, honour thine neighbor etc. Aslan is supposed to be Jesus? This is where I draw the line: lots of heroes sacrifice themselves to a cause they believe in, lots of heroes show others the errors in their ways and all heroes stand up for those who can't defend themselves. Aslan is also a horrible sinner, I count at least 2 of the deadly sins on him, pride and wrath, and serveral smaller sins. The religious imagery is everywhere in this movie, the Witch as the Snake, Ed as Judas, the whole Adam and Eve story and Aslan is a kind of divine being that's existed since the beginning of time so I guess it's easy to get caught up in the story.

Overall this movie is a 7/10 or 3.5 stars, the flaws in the presentation of the story really do take a toll, I wanted to really love this movie like the LOTR but it doesn't really live up to that standard. But this movie was made with about a third of the budget and far less time. The basline story is awesome and it doesn't lose much in the translation. Watch this movie, it's a great piece of fantasy.

Acting - Tilda is great
Excellent story and good moral lessons
Location shots are awesome

Long run time, story felt rushed
first 30 minutes consists of whiny, yelling british kids
On a 100 mil USD budget, better editing and graphics are expected

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Great books make "epic" films?

Coming on the heels of Harry Potter(Personally, I didn't fall under it's spell), the Lord of the Ring and War of the Worlds and the upcoming Narnia, Memoirs of a Geisha and Tristan and Isolde*, I asked myself why is Hollywood so immersed in the "epic" style film based on popular books. Some of the books I have mentionned should be "epics", the others should not. Not only is it horrendously tedious to sit in a theatre for 2 and a half hours to watch 45 minutes of a movie, it's unsettling because some of the above books don't have the story to support the style.

No doubt there are problems doing direct translations from book form to film. But as the Lord of the Rings has shown, you can follow the book almost dead on and still have a great movie. The devil is in the details, you know.

Memoirs of a Geisha and Tristan and Isolde don't seem like the typical epic films but they both have the "epic" visual style. Narnia has buzz but not as much as I would have liked to have seen because the film looks great. And yes, there are Christian overtones, yes the cast is mostly white and the issues discussed in the story are binary, good or evil, get over it people its a story written in 1950. These facts always start some witch hunt or protest or greivance to the MPAA.

*Tristan and Isolde's story is a Romeo and Juliet type of story, with star-cross'd lovers and warring countrymen and the like. I've read the French version but I've heard that the story is originally Celtic.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The one immutable fact about Hollywood

For the most part, Cinema fans are a dynamic group of people, shifting from genre to genre, from style to style with ease. For this reason, Hollywood has got more and more cunning in delivering it's limited amount of archetypes. They change the packaging but its still the same meat(or meat-like substitute, for the vegetarians). But even through all this change there is one thing that never changes: the what.

Hollywood films are old friends you seen a million time but never quite get bored with them. Though they will frustrate you from time to time. People need to demand better from the producers if not we'll end up with more of the same, generic, whitewashed material over and over.