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Stepped through the wardrobe [Dec. 10th, 2005|11:16 pm]
[Current Mood |sleepysleepy]

We saw The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this evening. It was quite good, a high B. Tilda Swinton as the White Witch, however, was an A+++++ (imagine me continuing around the classroom like Ralphie's teacher, marking plus signs on every surface). Just a brilliant performance - every bit of the cunning cruelty that makes Jadis. Mr. Tumnus and the Beavers were equally perfect, and the kids were all great.

So why isn't it an "A" movie? Three things. First, Aslan - though good - is entirely too tame. He's rather more a large shaggy dog than a fierce and powerful creature who chooses to be good. He didn't inspire awe, only "Awwww!"

Second, despite a rather slavish devotion to much of the story, a few critical moments are left out. The lament that it is "always winter and never Christmas" is only mentioned once, so that when Santa Claus appears it is not a monumental moment for anyone unfamiliar with the books - in fact, as we were leaving we heard someone ask, "So was that Santa?" Another thing left out was Aslan's stern admonition that Lucy to stop having a happy family reunion and get to work healing other people - Lucy got to be absolutely perfect throughout the whole movie. And we sure could have used a "he's not a tame lion" earlier in the production.

Finally, there were some production value issues, but not so much with the CGI creatures. No, it was with the humans-against-magnificent-landscape bluescreen shots that jerked me out of Narnia. That's sloppy.

Despite those limitations, it was still very well done. They left in the scenes with the professor, which I always loved, and wisely added a beginning that showed the Blitz and the reason why the Pevensy children were sent to the country.

When we got to the end, I wanted more of Cair Paravel, but I understand why they wouldn't do that. And I can't wait to see what they do with Eustace!

[User Picture]From: conscience
2005-12-11 04:44 am (UTC)
You know, re-reading the book now, and what I get from Aslan in the first book of the Chronicles is a powerful beast. In Wardrobe though, he did seem a tame lion through bits and pieces...not nearly the huge and dignified creature of the first book.

Eustace...oh, he will be MUCH fun!

I wonder if they will do the Boy and his horse story? I REALLY liked that one, the whole setting was great, great action!

Havent seen the movie yet, but the trailers have looked simply gorgeous with the animals...and yeah...that part has me totally captivated :)
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[User Picture]From: joxn
2005-12-11 05:26 am (UTC)
"Wardrobe" is the first book.
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[User Picture]From: cathubodva
2005-12-11 06:22 am (UTC)
I was impressed with the cgi creatures. I thought the wolves were really well done. I absolutely agree on Aslan being too tame, and the missing of Lucy being admonished.

And despite generally being a stickler about wanting movie adaptations to be completely faithful, I loved the addition of the war scene. It was very important to the development of the relationships between the kids.

And I'm so anxious for Dawn Treader. That's my favorite.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-11 11:06 am (UTC)
Yes, Dawn Treader is so marvelous! Can't wait for Reepicheep!
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[User Picture]From: mentalwasteland
2005-12-11 07:14 am (UTC)
I hate the re-numbering. Yes, the Magician's Nephew comes first chronologically, but it also is mainly intended to explain parts of the background of the other books (such as -- where DID that gas lamppost in the middle of the forest come from?) that, if explained before encountered, lessens the magical wonder of the other books.

I pretty much agree with your comments, especially about Aslan. He should have been bigger, and his roars should have been LOUD. They sounded about right for a normal lion. And his tone was too mild in all of the dialog.

I saw a news article that was laughable in describing how Lewis would have hated the movie. The reason? Because he abhored the idea of a Disney animated version with anthropomorphic animals. This may have been Disney, but the animals were completely or near photorealistic.

And as a final note, I was disappointed to see my favorite bit of dialog from the novel left out of the movie -- where another lion is bragging about how Aslan had said "We lions" in a battle order, like they were buddies.

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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-11 11:12 am (UTC)
Oh, I had forgotten about that bit, but you're right, it is a great moment.

And it may have been Disney, but the creatures were all Weta, through and through. Richard Taylor proved that Weta is more than just Peter Jackson's playground.
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[User Picture]From: theonlykow
2005-12-11 08:46 am (UTC)
I'm so glad someone else noticed the green-screen issues. For Christ's sake, Daily Show does it better.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-11 11:17 am (UTC)
Green-screen, yes. Showing my age a bit by saying bluescreen, wasn't I?

Ironically, Daily Show does it better because they do it worse. To get around the issue, you have to be willing to blur the edges just a bit, and this need for sharp, gorgeous focus kills the illusion. There were one or two shots in Lord of the Rings that made that error, but in this there were a bunch. I don't know why they aren't seeing it when they do edit screenings. Completely baffled.

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[User Picture]From: cyan_blue
2005-12-11 12:11 pm (UTC)
Another thing left out was Aslan's stern admonition that Lucy to stop having a happy family reunion and get to work healing other people - Lucy got to be absolutely perfect throughout the whole movie.

I was relieved, though, that they left out the admonishion about women not being supposed to fight.

And I can't wait to see what they do with Eustace!

Are they gonna do the other films, then?
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[User Picture]From: theferrett
2005-12-11 01:31 pm (UTC)
It's not guaranteed, but come on. If it does well, and you have popular sequel plots already written for you, why wouldn't you do it?
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[User Picture]From: jfargo
2005-12-11 03:05 pm (UTC)
No, it was with the humans-against-magnificent-landscape bluescreen shots that jerked me out of Narnia. That's sloppy.

The other things didn't bother me nearly as much as this one did. This alone got it a high B in my book and not an A. Though I have to admit that Lucy getting to be perfect irked me a bit too.

Other than that, I loved it.
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[User Picture]From: icefacade
2005-12-11 03:11 pm (UTC)
I saw it Friday night and I would love it if they made the rest of them.

This is one PG movie where the entire audience in the theater was constituted of people in their 20's and up.

And all around me, before the show started, I could hear people leaning to the strangers beside them, or turning around to speak to the people behind them, to swap stories of how much these books meant to them as children.

It warmed my little heart.

And at the end, everyone applauded.
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[User Picture]From: jfargo
2005-12-12 03:12 am (UTC)
Everything but the applauding, I get. The people on the screen can't hear you, so even as a child I never really got WHY you applaud to the empty screen.

Maybe it's just me?
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[User Picture]From: funwithrage
2005-12-11 05:25 pm (UTC)
Loved it as well. Less Tilda Swinton, though--I found that she looked really good in full-body shots, but up close the lines and so forth showed, and it was less Gorgeous Ageless Amazon than Hippie Seventh Grade Teacher, not helped by...cornrows? Ew.--but I think I'm in the minority there. :)

Also found Susan a world of annoying right up until the splashing-Lucy-at-the-river scene, but I feel like I was supposed to, so that's okay. (I'm also preternaturally cranky toward the mandatory "I don't *wanna* have adventures! This isn't real! Wah!" fantasy character.)

The beginning scenes were great. I nearly cried at the train station bit, especially at the shot of all the mothers trying to be brave about it. Yow. And I'm also glad they left out the women-shouldn't-fight deal, one of the few places in the story where Lewis's Atittudes show through. (Also: female centaur archer in the battle, yay!)
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[User Picture]From: theonlykow
2005-12-11 06:08 pm (UTC)
Her hair was some kind of badass combination of dreads and rows. I agree that the hair looked awkward when taken as an entirely different entity (Hair) and that the closeups were a bit crowed-out (Face) but the sum of the parts (Hair + Face) is a lot more than HairFace. I love her so much.

If you know and/or care who Nico is, Tilda Swinton is playing Nico in the Nico biopic! YAY!
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[User Picture]From: miripanda
2005-12-11 06:00 pm (UTC)
I was completely enchanted with the majority of it -- I decided a while ago to stop hating movie-adaptations of books as long as I could see why they made changes, and I could completely see why they compressed the story and heightened the sense of danger and urgency.

The battle scenes were very LOTR...one of the creatures even looked essentially like an orc. Boo.

But the look was perfect, the kids were perfect, Tumnus was freaking HOT, Peter was very pretty, the professor was perfect. Jim Broadbent can do no wrong.

I do agree that Aslan wasn't built up enough -- I think the cuts they made of the conversation in the Beavers' dam was what wrecked that. I mean, if they could have left in a little expositional dialogue, we could have understood who the witch was and why everyone revered Aslan.

But overall it got me.
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[User Picture]From: cyan_blue
2005-12-11 07:34 pm (UTC)
Tumnus was *so* hot!
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[User Picture]From: mamaursula
2005-12-11 07:11 pm (UTC)
I didn't slog through the comments yet, I just have a question though - we'd love to go, but we're considering taking our 3 year old. However, since it is rated PG, we're sort of at a loss. Do you think there was anything objectionable/scary that should prevent us from taking her? I'm very familiar with the stories and all I can think of is the last battle and the torture/death of Aslan, but not knowing how it's handled, I'll just ask you.
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[User Picture]From: cyan_blue
2005-12-11 07:36 pm (UTC)
There are indeed some scary bits. Battle and killing isn't sanitized in this one. I remember a point during the fighting where at least one kid was crying in the theater.
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[User Picture]From: amandathegreat
2005-12-11 09:31 pm (UTC)
They cut bits of dialogue that would have made things make more sense, and thus I was bothered. They cut dialogue out of a two-hundred page book so they'd have more CHASING and ACTION and DRAMA.

If they'd kept most of the scene in the beavers' den, I would probably have been fine. The kids had no idea who Aslan was, and then they met a lion and weren't surprised for some reason. The whole "Is Aslan a man?" "Bless you child, no! He's a lion." "A lion! Is he safe?" "Oh no, he's not safe. But he is good. He's not a tame lion," etc. bit was not there, and it bothered me a great deal.

Also I was bugged by how snotty the kids were to each other. Yeah they're siblings and they bicker, but I was expecting Peter, for one, to be at least a bit more mature. The kid's trying to take his father's place and care for his family, and while he is supposed to be slightly jerky to Edmund, he doesn't need to be a complete douche to him. He was a jerk to Susan too, once or twice. He's supposed to be rather mature so we can at least see how he could be a good king.

And for kids who spent half their time dithering about what to do and almost going home a million times, it sure was weird that they completely forgot about their family as soon as the war was over. In the book it made more sense to me, because they have one moment of "This place is dangerous, let's go home," and then scrapped that plan and didn't think of it again; that way, with the stress of everything and then being busy ruling and stuff, maybe they wouldn't have thought of going home. In the movie though, every time it was stressful they pondered just leaving, and thus when they were ruling later I can't imagine them being so busy they wouldn't think of going home. It just seems like the thought would have entered their heads at some point.

Therefore, I'd give the movie a low B, personally, maybe C+. Some things were very good but they weren't enough to make me forget about all the other irritants.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-12 12:34 am (UTC)
I do wish they hadn't made Susan so whiny. And yes, keeping in the conversation at the Beavers would have helped.
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[User Picture]From: kathrynrose
2005-12-11 10:30 pm (UTC)
My sister and I saw it this morning. I haven't read it. (I know, I know). The battle scenes were very LotR, and not as well done graphically. I was jerked out of the movie several times. The entire last reel of the movie was projected out-of-focus, and that was very disturbing, but that's not the movie's fault.

Loved the beavers.

In the books, do they go into more detail about the deep magic? I was wishing I knew more of the background of the battle.
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[User Picture]From: zoethe
2005-12-12 12:33 am (UTC)
Some additional detail. It gets more discussion in the later books. Out of focus would be highly frustrating. The beavers were great.
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