Tv blabs, movie blabs, book blabs. Lots of blab, but no flab.

Monday, January 2

The Movie, The Book and My Thoughts

I have always enjoyed reading, but as a child growing didn't actually read many books. It wasn't until I was in my third year of university that I really started devouring books (not "actually", cause the paper cuts would be painful). So, I had never read the famous children's series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Of course, I saw the BBC TV mini-series on ABC as a kid and was enthralled by it. I remember making sure I was home to see it each week. I found the Witch terribly scary and the idea of getting turned into stone quite horrifying.

Fast forward a decade or so and I'd still not managed to read the books. I have so many books sitting on my shelves unread and even more in the bookshop waiting to be put on my shelves that the thought of starting a thousand page series rather put me off. That was until I found out that the movie based on the second volume was being released. I then made it my mission to have at least read the first two books before seeing the film.

Early in December I pick up a one-volume edition of the series and crack the cover. For me, The Magicians Nephew wasn't anything special. Sure, it had some great visuals with the 7ft Queen rampaging through London and the creation of Narnia itself is wonderfully described, but I found the two children to be rather irritating and didn't really find much to like in either of them. I had to force myself to read the book hoping that it would get better and my perseverance would be rewarded. The final few chapters were worth it. I liked the animals and their treatment of the funny Humans.

The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (TLTWATW) didn't grab me at the start either. I found the children to be rather simple. I think perhaps I approached the books with an exceedingly high expectation resulting in my being over critical of the story. Even though it is wonderfully imaginative and stimulating I felt it lacked the depth I've come to expect from children's books published today. I think I would like to re-read TLTWATW without the pressure I put upon myself to read it before the film's release and allow myself to get caught up in the wonder of Narnia.

After a rough start with the books I admit to being a little dubious about the filmic adaptation of TLTWATW. Could the book that I felt was a little light on plot be translated into an engaging film? My answer would be yes. Mostly.

Director Andrew Adamson's previous credits are the two Shrek animated films. Both are wonderful (the second film less so) twists on traditional fairy tales that delighted audiences and thrilled studio executives. Stepping from CGI based animation into a huge live-action, CGI-heavy movie was a natural step, if not a massive leap.

The first half of TLTWATW crawls along at a rather slow pace. The text is liberally translated to screen and the film suffers at time from lengthy dialogue scenes. All of it important dialogue for the story, but not presented with a building sense of urgency. The children seem to unwittingly walk into most of the situations they find themselves in, and hardly make any sort of decision for themselves.

The film picks up pace as the children start to be hunted by the White Witch, played with great menace by Tilda Swinton. The chase across the frozen lake was a great addition.

The overlapping of some major events and the hastening of some of the chase sequences from book to screen certainly added in making the second half of the movie very enjoyable. The masters at WETA Workshop have worked their wonders again creating a vast array of creatures that will hopefully stand the test of time.

The final battle is epic on a smaller scale than we have become used to. The film beefs this part of the story up a great deal and really runs with the battle, although it never goes so far as to put off the younger viewers.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe is a solid fantasy film that will delight younger audiences and provide quite good entertainment for accompanying parents.

3 viewers interjected with:

Blogger Lisa Rullsenberg said...

I read the narnia books when I was a kid, which probably made moer sensem though I did re-read them all (in a single awake-all night session!) about 5 years ago.

Comments on the film I have heard are that its very much a FAMILY film and that TS is well-entrancing. I think the problem is chiefly that material is weaker than it should be. I'd be lying if I didn't acknowledge that I have some issues with LOTR, but whatever else you say about those books/films, they are more thoroughly worked through as narrative constructions and characters.

4/1/06 6:53 pm

Blogger Kirsten said...

I did it the other way around - I saw the movie and then went back and read the books. Well, actually, I'm almost 100% sure I read the books as a kid (or at least TLTWATW). I haven't quite finished all the chronicles I'm still reading. I don't know what to say really - I am enjoying the books, and I enjoyed the movie, but I don't know. They weren't *fantastic*.

6/1/06 11:56 pm

Blogger Draic said...

As a kid, I read the books, and read the books, and read the books.
After my grade 4 class saw the tv series of LionWitchWardrobe, I made my teacher start reading us the story that comes next - The Horse and His Boy. Unfortunately it's the most boring of the series and we didn't make it past the first chapter!
I think probably it was the simple nature of the books that made them enjoyable for me. I haven't reread them in ages - but, thinking about it, would particularly like to read the last one again.

As for the movie, I'm surprised how much I enjoyed it, having expected to be disappointed with any deviation from the books. It was great to give Susan some character, and to have the scene with Edmund and Mr Tumnus. New insights on familiar material, I guess.

30/1/06 10:34 pm


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