Monday, December 12, 2005

One Time, I Saw Jesus Eat 43 Kilograms of Raw Meat In One Sitting.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
2005, USA
Andrew Adamson
35mm

‘Tis the season to be jolly, and indoctrinate our children with socially regressive dogma, and The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe has arrived to bring the Christmas spirit gift-wrapped in Lord of the Rings wrapping paper. The fact that C.S. Lewis’ books are thinly veiled Biblical allegories has been making the rounds lately, which I find very interesting, having been a big fan of the novels as a child. I read each of them dozens of times, and if their intention was to bring children closer to Christ, I think Lewis must have mucked up his verb tenses or something along the way, because I ended up with more upside-down crosses on my arms than hairs on my chest. That may, however, be due to the fact that I read The Chronicles of Narnia before I read the Bible, so technically, to me the Good Book is a parable for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Trying to lure kids to the fold with books might not be the best idea to begin with however, since most children like reading as much as they like rectal thermometers, so I guess the powers that be switched to a more popular medium, next to PSP. In a way, however, the film did save me, in that writing the review took me away from watch Save The Last Dance, which is the only thing on TV tonight and a sure path to blasphemy, devil-worship and miscegenation.

Shigeru Miyamoto does Genesis 13:16

The book makes it to the big screen with all of its Christian themes of sacrifice, redemption, and the hatred of post-pubescent women intact, and quite frankly, it’s as good of a watch as it is a read. It’s simplistic, sure, and the points of its teeth have been dulled, but it is a children’s story, and it’s miraculously free of fart jokes, which have been a running gag in kids’ movies for a quarter century now. Following the adventures of four children taking refuge from war-torn London during the Blitz, the film presents the fantasy land of Narnia as a snow-covered wonderland. This fascination with snow is a prevailing element of fantasy literature, which is something I’ve never been able to understand. I live in a perpetually frozen Arctic wasteland, and snow means something completely different to me. Instead of the crystal clear crust of shimmering whiteness somewhere between vanilla frosting and diamond, I equate snow with being cold and miserable, dampening my jeans and inviting pneumonia when I return home to an apartment left unheated by a landlord determined to perpetuate negative cheap-skate stereotypes about Moroccan Jews. Here, however, the snow is an element of wonder in a Biblical fairy land to which the children escape the horrors of the industrialized world, to take refuge in magic and misogyny.

Screenwriter Andrew Adamson.

The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe gives us Narnia as a world in conflict between the forces of evil, embodied by the frigid White Witch and her hordes of hideous beasts, and the forces of good, lead by Jesus Lion Aslan and his army of all the cute animals from SPCA pamphlets. Jesus makes a good lion; noble, strong, and undeniable good, though I thought the scene where he constructed a parable about greed by eating 130 Kenyan construction workers was a bit of a stretch. Tilda Swinton gives a standout performance as the White Witch, which is par for the course for her. Swinton is a fine actress, and I wish her all the luck in chasing down the roles Cate Blanchette is too good for. She plays the White Witch as a cross between a Palaeolithic hag and a Victorian prude, and she seems quite at home with all the over-wrought dialogue about prophecies and epic battles and whatnot. Everything said in the film sounds like the lyrics to The Queen of Winter, Throned or some other Cradle of Filth song, which either makes the film significantly cooler, or the band significantly gayer. It’s most likely the former, since singer Dani Filth’s insistence of dressing like a goth Boy George has rendered it impossible to make Cradle of Filth any more gay. The film is long, but never really lags, except for one brief period where the filmmakers temporarily forget they’re making a fantasy film, not setting up a renaissance fair, and get sidetracked with archery targets and jousting and banners flapping in the wind for a good twenty minutes. The special effects however, leave a little to be desired, especially some of the computer graphics. I realize that CGI is necessary to achieve certain things, but films like The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy have shown us that much can be achieved with practical work, without making The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe feel like playing the Jesus Christ video game. Not that that’s a bad idea. Make it compatible with online play, and I might be a new convert to the flock.

9 Comments:

Blogger melinama said...

Wow, you actually liked a movie! I did too, and I was expecting to hate it. Maybe I was grateful, comparing it to a shudderingly awful version on tv many years ago with a Lucy I wanted to kick in the chops and people in animal suits that my son and I still mock occasionally - they were almost as bad as the crab in the Invasion of the Crab Monsters.

Back to the present version - Tumnus the faun was a cute little morsel and I loved the white queen. There was something really wrong with Aslan's mouth. It made me a little queasy.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Sam Kahn said...

The movie was entertaining, but somewhat bland.

Tilda Swinton was a pleasure to watch, though. She was the best part of the movie, for me.

6:04 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Melinama - I've liked a few of the movies up here, it's just that I'm not used to it, so it still comes out a little shakey.
Also, thank you for mentioning Invasion of the Crab Monsters. This site has been going on for far too long without that movie coming up, though the crappy special effects pale in comparison to Robot Monster.

Sam - Tilda was a great. She was also good in Constantine, I thought.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Sam Kahn said...

Yeah, she was possibly the best part of Constantine also.

She's one of those rare stand-out performers who don't just blend together with everyone else.

3:36 PM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

I agree. Though sometimes that can be a bad thing, like when you're the only good actor in with a mess of models and TV stars.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Je Suis said...

I like how the Bible is an allegory of Narnia for you. I like your review, too. I liked the movie, it was a kids' movie but without the whining, like you said. I liked the little bits, like the gryphon giving the centaur the eye when the centaur goes, "Numbers don't win battles". I have a lot of like.

2:27 AM  
Blogger lolalane said...

Haven't seen it yet. Waiting for Veggie Tales: The Video Game...think it's more direct.

Or maybe The Crucifiction: Ressurection Day. And you would like, be one of the apostles trying to save Jesus from those damn pharases and ingrate Jews...you'd be like, "Watch out for Judas...give him silver! Give him silver! Oh, shit! Here comes a Roman guard...fuck, man. He just stabbed you in the side. Can't believe you went out with stigmata! Weak man, hella weak."

Count me in. What would Jesus do? He'd hit the fuckin' A button, you stupid shit!

2:43 AM  
Anonymous LordFoom said...

The lion the witch and the wardrobe was badly acted, with passable CGI and lame directing. Plus they screwed up the relationship between Edmund and the White Witch. And Mr Tumnus was some kind of disconcerting pervert instead of a fat faun. Disappointing.

3:47 AM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

How can you be disappointed in a disconcerting pervert? In terms of Edmund and the White Witch, did they screw up the relationship, or just change it? I ask only because I don't remember the book. I, for one, actually prefer it if an adaptation differs significantly from the source material, like American Psycho where they changed the ending, as opposed to sticking faithfully to it like Sin City. Only if they make it worse, like Constantine, do I get irritated.

8:43 AM  

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