Monday, December 12, 2005


When I was on a strict diet, I used to allow myself one Peanut Butter sandwich for lunch. I would always bring it to work in a brown paper bag. A couple of times, the only container I could find to carry it in was a left-over McDonald's "A" bag. (The small, lunch-sack sized ones).

Whenever this would happen, even though I KNEW the bag only contained a Peanut Butter sandwich, I was always a bit disappointed when I opened it. It was like I EXPECTED to find a Big Mac in there. Even though I packed the sandwich myself, and the sandwich was good, something about the packaging made me expect a lunch that was a little bit tastier.

That's kind of how I felt after seeing, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe".

Let me say up front, I thought it was a Good Movie.

I just didn't think it was great.

Whether this is fair or not, and whether I realized it or not, I had anticipated Narnia being on a level with "The Two Towers".

Unfortunately, with the bar that high, the film, no matter how good, just couldn't measure up to my expectations.

There is also the difficulty with the inevitable comparisons, both good and bad, to the highly regarded BBC Narnia series.

All of this is quite unfortunate, on my part, as it is preventing me from deciding on a definitive "Thumbs Up" or Thumbs Down" for this film.

So instead, I'll take the easy way out and cover a few individual characteristics, in no particular order, and give my usual Biased, Retentative, Nerdo-geek opinions on them...


The Best of the kids...Innocent, Trusting, and Cute. I believed her. Thumbs-up.

The other three Pevensies:

Sorry...Bring back the BBC kids. (See? See? It JUST a STUPID Bias!) Nice picture. Too bad they never looked that cool in the movie. Thumbs-down.

Mr. and Mrs. Beaver:

The Lewis family hated the BBC Beavers. (Sounds like a bad college hockey team) They hated them on the grounds that their costumes stunk and they were stupid. I agree. Thumbs-up, however, to the New Beavers.

Mr. Tumnus:

TOTAL thumbs up. The scenes with Mr. T and Lucy were the best in the film. We were even treated to a little insight at the end as to what a trusted advisor he would become to the Kings / Queens during their reign. (True Narnia geeks: Check out Tumnus' cameo appearance in "The Horse and His Boy" to see what I mean.)


Tough one. Very believable. Liam Neeson's voice has just the right level of gravel for the part. My only problem is that his voice is a bit TOO recognizable...Oh well, Thumbs-up.

The White Witch:

In an attempt to distance themselves from the old, INSANE, BBC witch, the film-makers have left Jadis a bit hollow. You keep waiting for her to get REALLY instense, but it never quite gets there. Was it just me, or did the cut of her costume and the pale make-up make her look a bit to much like Alice Krige playing the Borg Queen in Star Trek? But I digress. I was going with a thumbs-down until my son pointed out something I had missed. She actually wore Aslan's mane around her neck as an adornment in the final battle scene. Whoa...she IS nuts. Thumbs-up.

The Death of Aslan:

Here's where the whole expectations vs. reality, PG vs. PG-13, adult vs. kid's film thing comes into play. This scene COULD have been more than it was. With all the effects, sound make-up, etc at its disposal, it still falls short of the absolute horror the occasion warrants. Should it be as realistic as "The Passion"? Probably not. Did it miss the mark? Yeah. Thumbs-down. (The Queen's black eyes were pretty freaky, however.)

Finally, the Battle:

C'mon. Remember the Build-up to Helm's Deep? Remember how emotionally tied in you were by that point? Sorry, but I just didn't care as much by the end of this film.
"Now wait a minute, Colonel," You say, "Knock off the Two Towers Comparisons already! Nobody said this was supposed to remind us of that battle!"
Ok, then what's the deal with the Minotaur standing on the rocky rise bellowing like a Uruk-Hai urging the army forward? What's with the riders crashing into each other like Rohirrim and Wargs? If you are going to use identical shots filmed from the same angles, you INVITE comparisons. Thumbs-DOWN!

Wait a minute...let me catch my breath.

I liked the movie. I liked the movie. I liked the movie.

My son also said he still hopes it does great at the box office so they make more of them. He said that even though it wasn't great, there are more opportunities to make better films out of the subsequent books. (Yes, Even Prince Caspian) I tend to agree.

I liked the movie. I liked the movie. I liked the movie.

I really want to like it. I DO.

I LIKE peanut Butter Sandwiches.

But they're not Big Macs.


Blogger mrswillyof4 said...

I've been waiting and waiting for our resident film critic to post on this movie.(no sarcasm) I pretty much agree with what you are saying and get your points on the soggy bread performances of "some" of the characters. I guess, I had no preconceived notions of what I was going to watch; therefore, I liked it. To keep a family friendly tone I think the death scene was very appropriate. Lots of little ones in the theatre. Lord of the Rings lost that kid friendly vote from me for the exact reasons you state. I think they kept a consistancy throughout to keep it as a movie for ALL ages. I appreciate your review Mr. Malton...oh I mean, Mr. Reini. Another superb post sir.

2:21 PM  
Blogger Colonel Havoc said...

Yeah, the need to keep a PG intensity for the targeted audience (Kids, Kids, and more Kids) was thing we had to think through the most when evaluating it.

With that in mind, I do conceed a thumbs up as a really good young people's movie. I think Lewis would have liked that.

Can you imagine the outcry if it had come out at a PG-13 level or worse?


2:35 PM  
Blogger Isaac said...

The whole "Good but not great" sentiment seems to be pretty popular. I was more than a little disappointed about how they used the "tame lion / good lion" line; it seemed thrown in, like the writers knew that they'd get in trouble if they didn't use it at all, but it went from being a powerful line before they new much about Aslan to a reflection about what they had witnessed (and, from my point of view, Aslan was pretty darn tame... he never seemed dangerous.) I wasn't a huge fan of Aslan in the movie in general--he seemed too grandfatherly or something. Too nice, too tame. But for the one scene in the battle, he was pretty much always tame. Also, they didn't do much to convince me to care about his death. In the book, by the time you get to the Stone Table, you care for him, and it's a gut-wrenching part of the book (even after reading the whole book several times.) But in the movie, I just didn't care that much.

As for it being appropriate for little ones, I thought that they used so much of the tech stuff to... intensify the movie. To make it scarier. I just don't know. It was a good movie... but not great. It just didn't do it for me. Ah well, maybe they'll do better next time.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Colonel Havoc said...

Thanks, Issac. Some good points there, especially about Aslan not being a "Tame" lion. Mike says Aslan gets more fierce & awesome in later books, so hopefully, they'll keep developing him as well.

Anyone else? This is fun.

6:52 PM  
Blogger dangeresque dan said...

I liked the film. I didn't go in expecting much since I knew there were parts (and whole scene) added.
I liked Liam Neeson played a good Aslan. I wish though they would have added the parts where he "gets mad". You know where there is that growl in his voice as he says things. I personally didn't like the voice for Mr. Beaver. I thought it was too Michael Cain-y. I also disapproved of the whole scene where Aslan comes out of the tent for the first time.
And one thing I noticed they never really gave a great background of Aslan. They just say he's the true king of Narnia. Nothing about him being the son of the Emporer-over-the-seas. I wished they did a better job with Susan and Peter. Edmond was kind of believeable. But the two older kids were dare I say, wimps when it came to staying there. "Let's go home. . . ."
And finally, I noticed they left a lot of key parts out. Like Aslan breathing on all the animals in the White Witches catle. I wanted to see the interaction between the lions. Along with other characters. I do think they disappointed on a lot but made a good movie.

6:20 AM  
Blogger the devine one said...

I liked it better than the BBC version (I'm not saying I don't like the BBC, I'm just saying I like this better), even though the witch was better in the old one, and a few other things as well. I noticed right away she wore Aslan's mane, what a psycho. And I didn't even notice it was Liam Neeson until someone pointed it out. I liked the old Edmund better, and I liked a few things about the old Peter better than the new one. So, I think the movies balance each other out.

And you can't compare everything to Lord of the Rings, that's not fair to the movie you are comparing it to, because no movie will be as good as LOTR. (:

8:41 AM  
Blogger Reinman said...

I'm not one to nitpick about changes from book to movie. For the most part, such changes are necessary for the relatively brief time frame and quick pacing of visual media.

Most of the changes were added to further character development in an efficient way, i.e. Edmund's meeting with Tumnus in the Witch's castle. I didn't mind that because it adds one more step to his development so his ultimate conversion is not in sudden Lucasian fashion.

There were some changes, however, that bothered me. One (and I don't think this has been discussed yet), I think the movie hit the wrong note with the professor. He's such a likeable character in the book, but it seemed as though the movie did not know how to handle him.

Certainly he's somewhat mysterious in the book, but I think the movie overplayed that angle, giving him a constant aura of suppressed magic.

But where's the intelligence and the wit. Where's the scholarly lamentation over the current school system? (Oh, sure, the line was in there, but, like Isaac pointed out about the Aslan "not tame but good" line, it seemed in there only out of necessity - not as an extension of the character.)

And where is the Bergan-esque gruffness and impatience that mask a true fatherly fondness for the children.

Again, the movie made him too mysterious and magical, and in doing so, they missed out on the true "magic" of the character.

(On a side note, one of my favorite Peter moments of the book was left out at the end of the film. It's when, after telling the professor about their adventure in Narnia, Peter says the only reason he bothered to tell the professor in the first place was because he was worried about having lost the four fur coats.

That not only wonderfully characterizes an otherwise bland Peter, but it also furthers the disparity between Narnia time and "real" time. In Narnia, decades had gone by without even a thought for the coats, but minutes after they exit the wardrobe, they are foremost in his mind.)

10:39 AM  
Blogger Colonel Havoc said...

Great points, people....
Dan, I agree with the point about the first appearance of Aslan. I think he would have been much more majestic if they had given his full description (Son of the Emporer, Not a tame Lion, etc.) as part of the set up.

Reinman, great point about the professor. The value of having a comments section is to further the analysis given. SOMETHING bothered me about the professor and you put your finger on it.

PS. In further discussion with the blond, we have determined:
1. We will still buy it when it comes out.
2. We will like it better in our basenment where, on a good day, our feet don't stick to the floor.
3. We have to remember that we now have adult children. I still think it was one heck of a good family film and I hope Hollywood keeps making more.

Bring on King Kong....

10:53 AM  
Blogger JC said...

Considering I'm not a movie buff by any means, I really enjoyed the movie.
Near the end of the movie- where the kids were getting crowned as Kings and Queens- did anyone catch the lion that where Edmund and drawn in the glasses and the mustache? I think I was the only one in the theatre to laugh out loud at that.

2:02 PM  
Anonymous Michelle said...

Ya know, I was so excited for this movie to come out, and at the same time apprehensive....I can't help it, I can't help it! but I DO compare it to LOTR... Maybe I shouldn't because even Tolkein said that the Narnia books weren't developed enough, they could have said so much more. I guess that never really hit home with me until I saw this movie version. I kept waiting to be swept into it, but I was actually thinking more about what was on my schedule tomorrow. I can always tell when a movie misses its mark if I am thinking about what I am doing tomorrow during the movie. LOTR seemed real. Narnia didn't. I can't really tell you why.

But I was moved in a few places. When Aslan was walking to meet the witch, I cried. When the kids were on the train going to the professors, when their mother said goodbye, I cried. Probably the mom thing.

I missed the lion with the mustache and glasses....maybe I'll go see it again to catch that!

Anyway, hopefully it will do well enough to make another, and maybe they'll give it to Peter Jackson....

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I have to say is that at the end of the movie in the crowning scene, a lot of the shots looked quite a bit like the end of Star Wars (A New Hope)

2:35 PM  
Blogger Graceland King said...

How can I add to a truly great post and some darn good comments? O.K., I couldn't stand Susan, Minnie Driver could have done it better. And that's all I have to say about that.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Jilb said...

Yeah for movies! Yep.. umm... yeah. That's my review.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved King Kong, it was the best movie I have seen all year. Jack Black also did a great job in it as a serious character. I also like how Peter J. tied Jack Black's character to himself in the movie, that was great.

12:02 PM  
Blogger the devine one said...

Yeah, Susan drove me crazy.

1:26 PM  
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10:33 PM  

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