My Rating: 6.5 out of 10
So I went to see Narnia last night, and I have to say, I was sorely disappointed. I was not disappointed primarily because I had high expectations, but because I think the film fails on many levels. I know I’ll probably get fried for giving it a poor review, but hey, what’s life without a little honesty? :D
WHY I DIDN’T LIKE THE NARNIA MOVIE
1. Sloppy CG
I’m sorry, but some of the backdrops and vistas were just so 1980’s computer graphics that I had to roll my eyes. When they first look over the valley of Narnia, rather than being a breathtaking vista, it looks like a bland inspirational greeting card. And when the camera pans back to them, the background looks like a cheap forest backdrop from a 1960’s film – I expected Errol Flynn to pop out any second. You can even see the green screen artifacts around their heads. Awful.
Also, some of the animals in the battle scene don’t move naturally enough – they kind of galumph awkwardly, and they cover more ground with each stride than their stride warrants, giving that flying effect. That would have been acceptable five years ago, but not now.
2. Narnia Feels Too Small
When Edmund sneaks away to the White Witch’s castle, he leaves his coat behind, but thank God it seems that it’s only a 10 minute walk from their location. I mean, not only did it seem like not much of a journey, but we don’t see any lands or living quarters for the Queen’s minions. Also, her castle seems small too – no grand rooms, intricate passageways, etc. The prison seemed to have two rooms – one for Tumnus, and one for Edmund.
This is one of the reasons why I call this "not Peter Jackson’s" – he knew how to create the feeling of epic scale – not just through big battle scenes or an occasional vista view, but through making buildings and varying landscapes for each scene. The lack of varied landscapes and largeness and creativity in individual scenes made this feel low budget.
3. No Background on the Deep Magic and Prophecies
The beaver mentions the prophecies, but not much more of the mythos behind them is developed. Despite the fact that this may not have been developed in the book, the lack of any more information here just made the prophecies seem contrived.
This lack of information was carried through to the stone table. I mean, the resurrection of Aslan gets a cursory mention of the Deep Magic and the writings surrounding it – a perfect chance to develop a deeper mythos, instead of a sloppy, superficial, Deus-Ex Machina reference to the Queen’s misreading of the text.
4. Aslan is Too Small and Unimpressive
I’m sorry, but Aslan was just not impressive enough with his diminutive size. When I read the book, I pictured him at about twice the size he was in the movie. Not only that, Liam Neeson’s voice was OK, but they needed to add just a little more depth and effect to it – he needed a more booming, scary voice.
In fact, the fear and awe of him that the book portrays did not come through in the movie – his size, and lack of ferociousness, and his predictable niceness made him seem like a nice kitty that even the queen could take for granted. Shame on Walden media for making him seem like a pussy (cat ;).
5. The Resurrection Scene – Boring, and A Missed Opportunity for CG
Aslan’s resurrection is so anticlimactic, I had to roll my eyes again. I mean, there is the earthquake, the splitting of the stone table, and the resurrection of the Lion, but all we get to hear is a rumble, and all we get to see is the girl’s surprise?!? How cool would it have been to see his carcass rise up in the air and do some cool sparkly stuff, and to see some invisible force smash the table at the same time? What should have been a climactic moment seemed like another low budget after-school special. I can just hear the discussion at the CG studio.
"Hey, this scene begs for some effects."
"Sorry, we spent all of our money on the big battle scene."
6. Little Character Development = Nobody Cares About Them
Despite the attempt to establish the characters, they just did not spend enough time developing them, and as a result, I did not care what happened to them. The only one with barely enough depth and humanity was Edmund, who at least showed a range of emotion. And while Lucy was charming and cute, she hadn’t suffered enough peril to show any depth of emotion.
And speaking of that, the whole crying scene at the stone table was contrived – rather than feeling real, I felt like they were trying to look upset while crying over a big stuffed animal. The fact that Aslan’s character was poorly developed meaned I didn’t care about him much either, despite the fact that he was Jesus’ analog.
7. Peter as a Warrior King? Not.
Lastly, the movie did not really establish why everyone would esteem Peter as a leader. He was so green it was palpable, and his few days of swordplay hardly seemed like enough time for him to be any kind of match for the Queen. And while it was obvious she was playing with him in their swordfight, he still seemed like a little boy in a King’s outfit.
I mean, take Luke Skywalker. He had to have a long period of training, and also had to enlist the help of the mystical force. That made his fighting abilities seem real. Even if Peter had no time to learn beyond a couple of days, some mystical intervention would have made his leadership believable.
And along the lines of not establishing the mythos, how is it that you can have two kings and two queens, none of whom are married to one another? Doesn’t that seem strange? They should explain such an anomaly.
8. Conclusion: A Story for 10 Year-Olds
The only people I see buying this DVD are Christians who need more family friendly videos to go along with their Veggie Tales collection. This movie is not epic, but rather, a poor screenplay adaptation of a timeless, classic allegory, aimed at pre-teens who need a story that is not too scary, and is bible-friendly.
Maybe, like the Harry Potter movies, which do a much better job at making their characters lovable, and at presenting a believable, interesting mythos, the series will get darker and more serious, and thereby more powerful and interesting, but my hopes are not up after this trip.