Thursday, December 15, 2005

Narnia -- review of the movie

Before getting too far into this review, you have to understand that me and mine are big fans of the CSLewis series and the BBC version thereof -- ok, Lucy may be goofy looking, the acting is not the best, and the "effects" aren't that special. But as for staying faithful to Lewis' books, the BBC series is really pretty darn good. my only gripe is that they didn't do all the books in the series.

Now, on to the one that came out last week -

I was all set to be enthralled -- we'd done the study guide on The Narnia Academy site; we read the book as a read-aloud; we watched (and rewatched and rewatched) the BBC version; and we played on the Disney Narnia site. We were prepped and ready this morning -- only to find an ice storm had come through and lcosed the schools. We had already bought our tickets online and went to the theater anyway. We were the first ones there and by the time the movie had started there were only about half a dozen others, so we got the BEST seats.

On to my review:

First, I hated the opening -- why they had to show Nazis bombing the heck out of London and scare all of us with the Pevensies having to hide in a bomb shelter is beyond me. Lewis starts his book with the train station and that should have been good enough for the directors.....

Second, they don't have the Professor meet the children when they first come to the house (which looks like an ancient ancestral home rather than a rambling manor house in the country -- but let's not quibble). They only meet Mrs. MacCready -- who is just as cranky and mean as the book. The Professor, once they do meet him is ok -- but give me the one on the BBC version -- now he was a classic!

Third, all the children get into the wardrobe not in a moment of light-hearted/serious hiding from MacCready but to hide after having broken a window with a cricket ball. They've portrayed Susan and Peter as being teens -- hiding in a wardrobe like little children????? Like MacCready's gonna stand for that!

Overall, the movie had a tension, aciton, adversarial feeling that the book didn't -- for instance, the White Witch's wolves almost get the children at the Beaver's Lodge and nearly catch them a couple of times -- much more action and scariness than needed. The children are always squabbling and fussing. Peter's only motivation for staying in Narnia is to get Edmund back - he could care less about the prophecy or helping the innocent Narnians against the Witch.

A small quibble is that Peter never says "sorry" to Edmund when Edmund is brought back into the fold -- in the book, all accept responsibility for hurting each other and all make amends; but not in this adaptation!

If you want a movie that stays close to the dialogue, meaning and spirit of Lewis' classic, rent or buy the old BBC version; if you want special effects, great scenery, and lots of violence and action, go see Disney's version.

Better yet, skip the movies and read the books to your kids -- you can be as scary, silly or active as you'd like!

1 comment:

2nd grade mom said...

Thank you for the recommendation of the BBC version. We watched it first, and really enjoyed it. I think it's probably a good preparation for my 6 yr. old to see the new movie. Also, I think it will help to give more than one interpretation of events in the book translated into movie form.