Monday, December 05, 2005

Mixed Feelings About Narnia

UPDATE: I want you to like this film and to take many many people to it. Please read the far superior reivew at AICN. Oh, and the whole Christian thing is so blown out of proportion. No one writes articles on how "The Game" and "The Matrix" affected the EST community, or how "Star Wars" converted people to Taoism. Freaking ridiculous.

I really wanted to love it. Me and this film have BAGGAGE, from my memories of reading it with mom in third grade to the poster I brought from comic-con straight to her hospital wall, to the anger that she's not here to see it with me. Not sure if I wasn't able to suspend disbelief on the first viewing because I know the source material so well, or because the FX were unconvincing and a tad awkward. The script was fine; definitely covered most important moments of the book. The kids' acting was a little uneven, but better than most.

My biggest problems were the talking animals looking strange, and that the majority of digital shots were during the day. I kept coming out of the movie, looking at the shortcomings of the digital art. And I hate to say it, but I didn't believe Aslan. It really bugged me that his right side of his face looked a little smashed in, and that he wasn't white. REALLY bugged me that he wasn't white. I just don't understand the choice. The digital polar bears and unicorn were white and looked much better, so it must have been some misguided choice not based on technology. He needed to be more special, emanating light. A regular lion was too easy to compare to a real one, or even a cartoon one like The Lion King.

Lucy was fantastic, and so was Mr. Tumnus.

Tilda Swinton was her usual effing amazing, badass self. Girl crush. She was just killer.

I'd like to see the movie again with a crowd of children. My preview crowd was adults grumbling about how they hadn't read the book. Some jackass behind me compared it to the Little House on the Prairie series. Wanted to leap over my seat and throttle him with a lion's roar.

The other thing I keep thinking is who is their audience? Seems like it's exclusively for ten year olds. Not the filmmakers' fault really, because they were faithful to the book. Giddily, awe-ishly faithful. Never seen grown WETA men cry at Comic-con presentation before. But the first half of the movie is too childish for eleven year olds and up, because the ones I know are watching Lord of the Rings and Resident Evil. And anything younger than ten would enjoy the first half of the movie, then probably wet their pants when Aslan is stabbed to death on the stone table and Ed and Peter lead the battle against the extras from Lord of the Rings. And if parents were so worried about the death in Goblet of Sex, then they maybe should be prepared for Ed to get "killed" on the battlefield.

I don't know, I don't know. I'm fretting. I'd really like to see the movie do great.

It's hard though, because some of the most vivid memories I have of the book are things like the description of Lucy riding Aslan, her fingers intertwining in his mane as she buried her face in it and just felt safe and protected and loved by her god. That just wasn't there in the movie, and really, how could it be? But it's so important.

Emotionally, I didn't lose it. Pretty proud of that. Thought of mom a few times, mostly of her comment to me on her last day that she was ready to grab Aslan's mane. He was totally her spirit animal.

Got a small fishie from her. The Laura Engle jackass behind me wouldn't stop talking about how he'd just gotten back from visiting his uncle dying of terminal cancer, and what the "last hospital he would be at" was like, and how suprisingly lucid he was. Kept talking about it right up until the curtain opened for the credits. Come to think of it, that guy was lucky to get out of there alive. You never know what unstable nutjob blogger is sitting right in front of you during a movie, grieving her orphaned status.


Lynne said...

I seem to recall reading that we get fishes more often soon after a loved one's passing, than later. They're probably busy planning their next incarnation, or have already begun it.

Thought of getting a kitten?

Fun Joel said...

Interesting. I actually loved the special effects, and liked Aslan in particular. Though I can't say I had nearly the attachment to the books that you did.

Check out my review of the film at my blog! :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow. Deep review.

And I would have totally represented you had you decided to kick his insensitive ass.


PS -- CC chiming in:

Lucas correctly (although, not necessarily appropriately for his films) said that the reason some were disappointed with SW: TPM were that they were seeing it thru the eyes of adults they are NOW, rather than as the children they were THEN.

Granted, it is practically impossible to get back into that mode of thinking. BUT, would this movie be a sufficient rendering of the story for you as you were back then? Just curious as to your thoughts in that context...

CC is seeing at 12:01 on Thursday; I am home tending the sheep... one of whom is now walking. AAGGGHHHH!!!!!!


Fun Joel said...

Hey Liz --

I happened across this review that I think really addresses your issue with the film in the most interesting way.

Kid Sis said...

Lynne, no kittens! But Hero gets lots of hugs. Yeah, I'm a little freaked out about that theory. I'm going to try not to think about it too much, because I want fishies forever. I'm grubby that way.

FJ, read your review. I think most of the problems you had with the movie were very faithfully adapted from the source material, so that's where your real grudge lies. The Santa Claus thing was delightful to me as a child.

MIM, can't WAIT to hear what CC says. Again, I need a second viewing just to drop my baggage. I hope she loves it.

I get her question, but the thing is, E.T. still wrecks me!!! So I don't think it's that I've lost touch with my little kid.

FJ, those are some interesting points. Thank you for finding the review! My problem really is the same one I had with Spider-man I. Delightful film until Times Square when the Goblin showed up, and I spent the rest of the time staring at Power Rangers with my mouth agape.

It's not that the Narnia looked different than I's that I didn't believe for a second that Liam's voice was coming out of the digital drawing of Aslan. For me, the daytime digital looked awful, almost like that Paula Abdul video where she interacts with Cat Skat. I just never bought the human and animal characters were all in the same room together, whereas I never thought twice about it in Lord of the Rings or E.T.

Kid Sis said...

I know ET was not digital. Sorry. I'm just saying, I didn't get to the point where I saw characters.

I had just seen Harry Potter the day before and totally was entertained, enthralled, engorged, and believed all their FX. Argh.

Fun Joel said...

Liz -- I think the difficulty you had with the effects MIGHT (but necessarily) have stemmed from your powerful memories and associations with the book. While there were a few scenes/shots/times that I felt the CG creatures looked a bit false, overall I thought they worked quite seamlessly. Echoing my thoughts, here's a brief quote from the Hollywood Reporter review (which I'm not linking since you need a subscription to access it:

"...the blend of live action and CGI is striking. In battle scenes, a few movements do remind you of video-game action. Otherwise, the photo-realism of thousands of creatures and their amazingly organic movements, especially when mixed in with actual locations and real actors, is a remarkable achievement."

It's interesting that they picked up on the faker effects during battles that I did. But most importantly, I think that we must remember that while we, as adults, pick up on some of the fakeness of some of the effects, kids remain the primary target audience. And I just keep coming back to the big smile on the face of the kid behind me when Aslan first spoke! :-)

Just my 3 cents (too long to be just 2)!

Kid Sis said...

Thanks for trying again, Joel.

I'm so stoked the kids liked it. Really, really pleased. So important.

I guess it could be because of my memories. But I really don't remember the Narnia books that well at all. The last time I read them must have been sixth grade, back when I had brain cells to spare. Then again, maybe that gives it an even more powerful hold? I remembered key scenes from Star Wars wrong when i was a kid...I really thought Leia had layed one hell of a kiss on Luke, but it was really only a peck. Kind of becoming an interesting enigma to me. Must explore memory idea more.

I'm still leaning towards my Spider-man theory, because I walked out of that movie saying it was crap because of the FX, while my two discerning friends sitting next to me were enthralled the whole time and sad for me that I didn't see what they saw. Makes sense digital art is like everything else in movies...taste, not fact.

Maybe we'll find out when I see Narnia again, possibly as early as Sunday.

Anyway, sweet of you to care about me and my life-long pagan religion fetishization of a children's christian book. I'm one odd duck.

By the way, recently learned my meanderings caused someone to NOT go see the film....Arrrrhh???? C'mon, I totally explained why I had the reaction I did, and why you probably won't, and that I WANT THE FILM TO BE SUCCESSFUL. So go see it, people. Sigh. Don't make me the grinch. It's time Narnia had a Christmas.