Saturday, December 10, 2005

Narnia

Last night I did something I seldom do anymore: I went to a movie. Now, in order to actually get to a movie theatre not only must I drive 35 minutes to get to the city, but then I have to battle the hoards of Christmas shoppers because of this ridiculous habit of putting oversized 16-screen theatres into malls. I mean, what are they thinking? That the average shopper will glance at their watch and say, "Hmm, lunch at the foodcourt or I could get a popcorn and watch a movie. And with all these bags from Sears and Reitmans and Chapters, it would be nice to sit down and rest my feet..."

So, I suppose it must boil down to something about convenience. Likely for that most insidious group of the population: parents.** Send the kids off to see a movie and go to the lower level of the mall for bowling. Or across the street to the adult bar. Or the theatre lobby for those kick-ass video games.

But getting back to the point, it's a fair drive. The parking sucks. Then, there's the ticket prices. Wow. For the price of two of us, I can wait six months and buy the dvd. And we aren't even talking about the absolutely crappy food for sale at outrageous prices. Personally, that recent box-office slump was cause to celebrate. It costs more to go to the average movie than it does to buy my nephew's birthday presents (and we do not cheap out on the birthday presents - X Box games and more) and I resent it when the Big-Name Actress is getting $20 mill for her part in the production at my expense.

Since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, I can count on one hand the number of movies I've gone to see in the theatre. I can probably count on one hand the number of dvd's I've bought as well. If there's one thing Hollywood's really good at, it's producing predictable crap.

But the release of Narnia was an event that could not be missed. Since I was 7 years old, lying in bed one hot July with pneumonia, I've been entranced with Narnia. It all started with a (then) rare act of kindness by my older sister - she brought me home some library books. Man, way back then, we had to share a double bed. I used to kick her in the back while I did my nighttime gymnastics. Could explain the incidents with her holding a pillow over my head. Anyways...

I remember reading almost all of the Narnia books then, and I've always loved them. And I've always owned a complete set. The decision to make a movie had the same good/bad reaction for me that the news about LOTR did. Would it match up to the book? Or would I be disappointed.

Lord of the Rings was a fantastic achievement. In some ways, that made the forthcoming release of Narnia even more nerve-wracking, for there would be the inevitable comparisons. And how can you compare? LOTR was an adult series meant for an older audience. Narnia was written for children, but remains loved by adults. LOTR features adult actors. Narnia centers on four children.

If you haven't read the book and want to see the movie or don't want spoilers, don't read further.

The film is quite accurate. The essence of the book was in tact. One thing that might have been nice for those who didn't know, was an explanation about the wardrobe and who the professor is. But it's not necessary if you just accept the wardrobe as magic and leave it there.

And the beginning of the movie was great.

I thought they did a fabulous job with the battle. Of course, I wondered how they'd handle it, because Narnia is much more for children than LOTR was. But they didn't sugarcoat it. They also didn't overdue the violence, IMHO.

I felt the role of Edmund was played extremely well. Here's a talented young man who has a future in movies. Not that the others don't necessarily, but that role was vital. Susan, for example, could have been played poorly and it wouldn't have been as critical to the overall success. But if Edmund had been a flop, the whole movie would fall. And I thought he did a great job. I believed in him as the villain, and I believed in his change.

There was something disturbingly familiar about Tumnus. I must go check that actor's bio.

I haven't looked into it, but I do hope that Disney is going to do a few more of the books - oh, and please, Voyage of the Dawn Treader. That would be excellent.

And, if you're a sappy schmuck like me who cries easily, close your eyes if they show the preview for the story in the antarctic about the sled dogs. I'm getting all choked up just thinking about it. Damn, they need a guidance system for adverts like that - rated Tissue Necessity: Very High. That way you can get enough napkins when you're buying your overpriced popcorn.

** Seriously, it was nice to see so many families out for this movie.*** I actually overheard a father and son talking about reading the books on their way out of the theatre - music to my ears.

***And I'm sure it made Disney happy too.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

If it didn't disappoint someone who fell in love with the books as a seven-year-old, they must have done a good job.

Kate

Stuart MacBride said...

I've not been looking forward to going to this one (She Who Must is a big Narnia-head and insists I go with her), but if it doesn't bite the big one...

And I've only been to the cinema once since LOTR. And it encouraged me to stay at home and buy DVDs too.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Kate, we'll see what you think when it comes out in your part of the world! 2007 did you say? (ha ha)

Well Stuart, I suspect that whatever else you may or may not like, you'll enjoy Mr. Beaver.

I didn't think Narnia was a flawless, brilliant masterpiece that could never be surpassed, but I did enjoy it. Althouh it made me want to see The Two Towers on the big screen again. I love all that fighting.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Hello. Followed the profile.

I think they're going to do a movie a year, you know, ala Harry Potter or LOTR until the tie-in toy manufacturers implode, or the things become cliched.

It's been decades since I've read Narnia, but didn't the explanations about who the professor is come towards the end of the series?

Sandra Ruttan said...

Actually, the story of the professor may have been completely explained again at the end... but the first book, The Magician's Nephew, is the one about him, when he goes to Narnia, and how the witch gets there and how he ends up with the wood (to build the wardrobe).

I only mention it because my husband didn't know. It's just... well, if you go see it, when you see the end, you decide if it might have been good to have explained. I thought so. Not a must, but it would have made more sense to those who haven't read all the books.

Stuart, why did I think you had a vcr? Darn, those videos I sent with your christmas candies won't be any good to you.

M. G. Tarquini said...

My kids haven't read all the books yet. When I take them to see it, I'll ask if it bothered them not to know who the professor is. It's probably one of those things an adult notes, but goes right past kids.

If they are planning to do all seven books, my guess is that they are saving the revelation for The Magician's Nephew.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I doubt they'll make The Magician's Nephew though, because it preceeds The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. If you read the books, LWW is #2.

But I would agree, kids likely wouldn't care! And it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the movie.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Just sent my kid off to check! The set we have has LWW as number 1, Magician's Nephew is number 5, although it is the first from the chronological point of view of the story.

The set my kids have are my own from when I was young.

In order, I've got with copyrights:

LWW - 1950
Prince Caspian - 1951
Dawn Treader - 1952
Silver Chair - 1953
Horse and his Boy - 1954
Magician's Nephew - 1955
The Last Battle - 1956

They are published by Macmillan. I wasn't even born in 1950 or even 1956, yet there's nothing in the copyright notice that indicates these are anything but a first printing by Macmillan. Were they sitting on a bookstore shelf until I picked them up?

Oh wait, Dawn Treader says it's an eighth printing. They all have those numbers along the bottom. I don't know how to interpret them. LWW's number are largest, which makes sense if those number indicate the number of printings.

Are the order designations for the books different now?

M. G. Tarquini said...

Son of a gun!

I just looked it up on Amazon. The publisher - HarperTrophy has mucked with the order! There's a review of the boxed set by somebody telling people to read it in the correct order, starting with LWW and putting The Magician's Nephew as number 5.

The covers on my set list the order.

I have to admit, reading them the way Lewis wrote them was really wonderful. It was such a treat to learn who the professor was. I don't remember caring until then, but it fascinated me to think of that old man as a young boy and being the precursor to it all. Does this have to do with the new idea that everything must be linear?

Excuse me. I need a stiff drink after this discovery.

Stuart MacBride said...

"Darn, those videos I sent with your christmas candies won't be any good to you."

Not more of your kinky home movies! They frighten the cat...

Sandra Ruttan said...

m.g. ... I don't know. But I'm appalled to think the order was messed with. I've only ever known them with the numbers on their spine.

I'm actually surprised Disney plans to make all of them.

Well Stuart, we have a dvd burner, so we could have sent one of those, complete with special features and scene selections.

M. G. Tarquini said...

I blogged about it.

Clearly, I'll need therapy for years to come. Thanks for letting me invade your space over here.
m.g.

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