Monday, December 12, 2005

Narnia rules!

It would take a lot to please me, considering the book The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is my favorite book of all time. I remember well the first time I read that book. My parents kept calling me for dinner. I kept replying "a few more minutes, I'm almost done with the book."

I couldn't put it down. After I finished, I would never be the same.

I kept fantasizing about the book, how I would make dark rides based off of scenes from the book. I would start with the lamp post scene. The ride wouldn't begin in the Professor's mansion, but rather with the lamp post. I wanted Narnia, not Earth.

Needless to say, I had huge expectations coming into the film. Only absolute brilliance would please me and I demanded it as a bare minimum.

They succeeded.

Star Wars III and Harry Potter 4 were two movies I've seen recently that should have been great movies, but they weren't. They were only good. They were only good because they fell on their faces when it came to both character development and well-written dialog. Narnia had both.

Yes, all four children were made real. You could feel how they felt. You understood their weaknesses and their fears and you rooted for their strengths and their hearts to prevail. You saw Edmund have a shot of redeeming himself and you hoped he took it.

Not only did they develop the four children, they developed the Beavers. They made the White Witch scary. They made Aslan majestic. They made you sympathize with Thomas, the Fawn.

The movie's greatest scenes were shot in New Zealand, which is about the last place on Earth that isn't helplessly overpopulated, so you could have gorgeous backgrounds. The producers made every penny count, for they knew with a good movie they'd recoup the costs. They succeeded, and the movie will advertise itself. Don't be surprised if this movie stays in the theaters for a very long time.

Also, as a sound conneseur, they did a wonderful job with surround sound. The footsteps and the background noises fit. They really made sound a significant part of the movie experience.

One drawback though, as I give the storyline ten dead zombies, the effects only get eight. The reason is there are some scenes where it's blatantly obvious the camera folk shot the actors in front of a blue screen and applied computer animation later. Those scenes felt like that 1950s movie Shangra La.

This technology is imperfect. I won't fault the producers for deciding to use this technology over good old film tricks, although I'd take the old ways over computers any day, for computer animation still looks like it was done with computers.

Thanks go to Levi for introducting me to Imogen Heap. I recognized the music immediately, for they contributed a song to the soundtrack. The other songs fit the movie, so the sound team apparently did their homework. It wasn't as strong as a soundtrack as the Lord of the Rings films, but it worked.

Despite the imperfect rating for the effects, I'm still giving this movie ten dead zombies. This, Mr. Lucas and director of Harry Potter 4, is how an epic movie is supposed to be made. I really think you will too.

Parents - your call on the kids. Good creatures do die, there are scary monsters, and the White Witch is evil. The PG rating fits though, I'd strongly suggest being there with the little ones. Don't let them see it on their own, for there are a few frightening scenes. However, I think it's safe to bring the little ones, as long as you're there to make them feel safe.


Blogger lime said...

my 2 younger ones saw it this weekend and loved it
i am hoping to see it soon

12/12/2005 8:56 AM  
Blogger Miladysa said...

I was hoping to go this weekend but it did not happen! I cannot wait!

I remember my first time through the wardbrobe, I was 7 years old. I have lost count of the number of wardrobes I have tried to reach Narnia through. My heart still weeps for Aslan!

I cannot wait!!!

12/12/2005 12:24 PM  
Blogger bsoholic said...

I wrote a review on this too, not nearly as in depth as yours. Just saying I loved it too!

12/12/2005 1:59 PM  
Blogger Slade said...

I CANNOT wait to see it! I just read the book for the first time a few weeks ago and loved it!

12/12/2005 2:07 PM  
Blogger tshsmom said...

My guys won't go to the movie with me, so I'm waiting for the video. :(
I'm halfway through the Chronicles now. You and Sadie were right; I LOVE them! Now you have to read some Roald Dahl, as per our agreement.:)

12/12/2005 2:43 PM  
Blogger Kris said...

I'm so glad to get the great recommendation. I was on the fence about it before but I trust your judgment.

12/12/2005 3:27 PM  
Anonymous Michele said...

Zombie, I regret to say I was wildly disappointed. But, if it makes you feel better our whole family went together to the viewing, and were divided, 3 to 8, with Levi liking it very much, too. (And it always gets weird and personal between him and me when we disagree on a movie.)
I can't say I hated it, I didn't. It was good for what it was to me; an almost cheesy, at times well-done kid's movie. BTW, major spoilers ahead:
I'm not one to always walk out of theatres spouting, "Oh the book was so much better." Usually they are, but some of my favorite movies are equal to or surpass their books. LOTR, for example, were great books, but excellent movies.
I just felt the elements of the book that are so grand, compelling and meaningful were included, but were either rushed or misunderstood in the movie. Ex: The seduction of Edmund through Turkish Delight looked just like a kid gobbling candy. Remember how involved his desire was, the beauty of those morsels, how dismal and confused he felt after eating it, and how it affected his grasp of what was true? The entrance and presence of the witch seemed small and anti-climactic as well. I didn't like how she over-acted by yelling at times either. Her anger should have been much subltler. The chemisty between the Pevensies was OK, but I felt like I was watching some sort of Pyschological thing for kids, the way they struggled with staying or leaving Narnia, becoming royalty or not. Not in the book and was an un-necessary conflict. Isn't saving Narnia conflict enough? The professor was too stereo-typical, too, although I like that actor. Far too cutesy compared to Lewis' straight-talking alter-ego of the story. And, I felt it needed a more dramatic, searing score. The movie was very visual and needed that to give emotion to various scenes. At times, it all felt cheesy, like Bedknobs and Broomsticks or something. I also was bummed that the Royal Family didn't speak Shakespearean during the hunt for the White Stag. This is such a cool part of the last chapter, showing how they'd totally assimilated into Narnia.
What I did like: The battle was pretty cool. I love those kind of scenes. (I'm also very inspired to now sword fight with 2 swords when my grandson and I go at it.) Mr. Tumnus was an outstanding actor, and perfect faun. The Stone Table was awesome. The creatures were evil without being terrifying. To only show Aslan's eyes while he's executed was a stroke of creative genius. Kid's can see it, yet sense the tragedy and humiliation he was suffering. I liked the nod to the Arthur legend, of having Peter rise from the water holding a sword. Not in the book, but a good scene. Also added, and well done, the opening scene in England. My 10 yr. old said she for the first time understood why the children were sent to the country, although she's read the book twice.
Glad you liked it, I actually hope it does well. Because it may cause a whole new generation to read and love those books, and that's good.

12/12/2005 3:39 PM  
Blogger Notta Wallflower said...

ZS - H and I saw this yesterday and we really enjoyed it. Aside from the good points you brought up, it also had some good symbology. H was telling me that Lewis and Tolkien were old chums and both fought in WWI. Narnia was supposedly about WWII - each of the children representing different countries. Peter was England, Edmund was (I think) France, and Susan was Spain. I can't remember which country Lucy represented. Then, of course, there was the religious symbology - the biggest symbol with Aslan as Jesus Christ. I need to read up on it more - I read the book when I was a kid, but I want to read it again.

12/12/2005 4:44 PM  
Blogger Bridget Jones said...

Can't wait to see this one...glad bsoholic liked it....

12/12/2005 5:38 PM  
Blogger Scott said...

My kids are too young, but this sounds like a wonderful movie--now I can't wait to see it. I loved the book as a kid, and it's good to see that someone who also loved it appreciated the movie, which for me almost never happens.

12/12/2005 5:58 PM  
Blogger Sass said...

I've heard similar reviews. Glad you enjoyed it so.

12/12/2005 6:44 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Lime - Glad they liked it. I'm sure you'll like it too. We loved it.

Miladysa - I was a young teen when I read it, and it's still my fav book. Two years ago, read all seven books to Junior.

Bsoholic - Cool. Check it out tonight I will.

Slade - Wow, you lost your Narnia virginity recently? Well, glad you liked the book.

Tshsmom - On my queue. :)

Kris - Well, I hope you don't regret it.

Michele - The seduction of Edmund through Turkish Delight looked just like a kid gobbling candy.

Agreed this part was rushed, but I have no idea how I would have done this scene.

I actually liked the development between the kids.

True, the professor's part was diminished.

I also was bummed that the Royal Family didn't speak Shakespearean during the hunt for the White Stag.

This is another part that could have been fleshed out.

It's too bad you were disappointed. The thing is, I thought for what they had to do, they did a wonderful job.

Notta - I didn't know any of that, other than Aslan being Jesus. With that in mind, I need to re-read it.

Bridget - Post what you think when you see it. Looking forward to your opinion.

Scott - I think it's time for a babysitter. ;)

12/12/2005 6:47 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Sass - Definitely check it out. We loved it.

12/12/2005 6:48 PM  
Blogger Vest said...

One of the most colorful books I have read many years back was Steven Crane's story about the(In my opinion immoral and wasteful) American civil war. 'The Red Badge Of Courage'. The long awaited movie was a total disappointment.
I loved the way the author described most everything in a colorful manner.

12/13/2005 5:16 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Vest - The American Civil War to this day has done damage to this country. I'm ashamed to say I haven't read that book yet, even though it's one of the greats. I need to add that to my queue of books I need to read.

12/13/2005 8:59 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

A great film.
I agree with you on the effects part, but hell, not too bad an effort.

Kids might get a bit freaked out.
One little girl had to be escorted out by her parents when Aslan was on the slab. She was crying on the way out, "Mommy, I don't want him to die!"

12/13/2005 9:45 AM  
Blogger Thomcat said...

i also grew up reading the series , over and over again. Over the summer, my oldest daughter asked me about 'the lion, the witch, and the warddrobe'
i said, i have the series ... she was excited and still hasn't given me back the series ... needless to say, she wants to see the movie now

12/13/2005 10:13 AM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

Thom - You'll have to let us know how she feels about the film. That's cool she found something that she really could get into.

Joe - Yeah, we saw the midnight showing so there weren't any kids in the theatre, but I could imagine some kids freaking out at some of the scenes.

12/13/2005 6:57 PM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

I can't wait to see this movie. I'm not going into it with any expectations because I just want to be entertained. People who go see the film expecting it too be on par with The Lord of the Rings, are setting themselves up for a crashing disappointment. My prediction is nothing will ever be on par with those films ever again and we should just stop comparing things to it because it set the bar way too high.
Michele--I didn't read your whole comment because I stopped when you mentioned spoilers.
I see that you were disappointed. I hope we'll have a talk after I see it...

12/14/2005 9:06 AM  
Blogger Bhakti said...

Back in August when I was in the Neurology ICU recuperating from my spinal fusions, the Chaplain kept questioning me about my religious beliefs. She came to visit me quite often. (Perhaps she was perplexed at my response the first question she asked me, a couple of days before my surgery:

Chaplain: Hi. I'm the Chaplain. I just wanted to ask you if you have found God in your heart.

Bhakti: Yes, I've also found 'Him' in everything that exists everywhere. Nothing exists that is not God.

She knitted her eyebrows. She came back to visit a couple more times to inquire about my sense of God realization. Ultimately, she thanked me for giving her a more open-minded and ecumenical view of God. Before our last encounter she handed me The Chronicles Of Narnia book and told me it was her favorite book ever.

My point?? After I finish reading Harry Potter 4 (I'm on page 327), I'll give that book a whirl, and then perhaps go see the movie.

12/14/2005 10:16 AM  
Blogger The Zombie Lama said...

This movie ROCKED! I can't remember the last time I saw a movie and had such a sense of... wonder... as the movie unfolded.

12/14/2005 3:43 PM  
Blogger The Zombieslayer said...

ZL - Very cool. Glad you liked it. I felt the same way, was happy throughout, just in a sense of awe.

Bhakti - Ah, you're reading one of my favorite books. But Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was my absolute fave. I hope you got out of it as much as I did.

Sadie - That's one thing I fear about hyping a movie. I loved it, Michele didn't. Levi liked it. Let me know what you think after you see it.

12/14/2005 9:59 PM  
Blogger Bhakti said...

ZS: How many Potter books are out now? She hasn't written #7 yet, has she??

12/15/2005 4:44 AM  
Blogger Sadie Lou said...

I did a review today.
i didn't like it as much as you did but I liked it for what it was.
Check it out.

12/16/2005 8:46 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

Okay, I completely agree with you. And yes, this was one of my all time favorite books too.! The movie was awesome. I was so excited to see all of those "fairytale" creatures that I had only "dreamed about in my mind" finally come to life. I've seen it three times already and I imagine I'll see it quite a few more times. I also took my kids (5 and 7) and they sat through the whole thing without once having to go to the bathroom. They thought it was awesome too.

12/19/2005 3:29 AM  

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