Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

Rant by Michael Jaffe

So, it has taken my two days, one spent at a speech tournament to come to grips with how terrible this film is. I am a big fan of the books; I did read all of them, but the fact that I know what C.S. Lewis was trying to say made this sludge seem all the more pathetic. Where to start with the flaws? The acting was miserable all around except for two surprise appearances: Jim Broadbent as the professor and Ray Winstone as the voice of a CGI beaver. Any time your films best performance comes from a digital beaver, you have problems. The kids were either underplaying or overplaying to an extreme where I almost yelled at William Moseley, the 18 year old Aryan poster boy who plays Peter Pevensie because he was so appallingly terrible. At least in the Harry Potter films, the kids were acceptable and took a back seat to their supporting adults. In Narnia, the kids take back seat to Mr. Beaver, voiced with excellent skill by underrated British actor Ray Winstone, who does an excellent voice job. Surprisingly, Tilda Swinton, who is usually a consistently excellent actress, hams it up to the point where I wonder if maybe Roger Corman was directing her scenes. She also suffers one of the worst hair styles I have ever scene, with her thick blonde dread locks. Since the supporting cast was bad, the kids somehow looked even worse as all four expressed one thing through the entire film: “all I want for Christmas is some ACTING LESSONS!!!”
Since the acting was so bad, the directing almost didn’t matter as you couldn’t look away from the train wreck that was the acting in this film. Andrew Adamson, best known for the Shrek films, makes a meek and half hearted shift to live action films, still relying very heavily on computer generated images and battles. The CGI in this film ranges from incredible, some of the battle scenes and the creatures, to the appallingly bad in some other battle scenes. It suppressed me that on such a major film, I would one minute be awed by the CGI and then there would be a creature fighting and it would appear blocky and fuzzy. However they created Aslan, the massive, magic lion, stupefied me though. It looked exactly like a real lion, but was three times the size of the kids, yet never for a moment looked like it was out of place. I know it is childish, but in a kids film to occasional moment of youth broke through and that was what happened every time Aslan, voiced with royal grace by Liam Neeson, graced the screen. Unfortunately, the script to boot was also inconsistent, with some moments of Mr. Adamson’s wit that showed in Shrek breaking through, but other times the dialogue came through with such staleness that I had to do a double take in my head because I couldn’t believe that such pathetic words would crawl onto the film of a $120 million movie.
I write this rant as a warning to everyone to drastically lower their expectations of this film. If you were expecting anything nearly as good as the BBC version from 1988, you will be disappointed at how poor this film really is. I don’t think I will ever recover from this terrible shock. 2/10

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