The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Somehow I had been under the impression that this hadn’t been a big hit. Turns out I was wrong. It made almost ¾ of a billion dollars, worldwide. Naturally there was a sequel, and a third is on the way. I never read the books, so I watched with no preconceptions. (I think I recall some sort of hoo-hah over religion, but I ignored it, and I didn’t see anything particularly religious about the film, though I know C.S. Lewis was a committed Christian. Whatever.) All I care about is if it’s a good story, and well made. And it is … and yet it’s lacking something. I say that, yet I can’t quite put my finger on what it is. It just seems to be missing some of the sense of wonder. Could it be that I’ve become jaded to talking animals that look absolutely realistic?
This series was touted as the possible next Lord of the Rings, but it sure doesn’t have that sense of dark menace. It’s all rather pleasant, actually. And it is a bit slow … another criticism I hesitate to make, because lord knows most films these days are anything but slow, and I’ve complained about that often enough. But it takes quite a time to get to anything like real action. And then, of course, when it comes, it’s almost too much. And again, wonderfully rendered, as if it were actually happening, when you know that 90% of what you’re seeing wasn’t there when they did the principle photography.
A side note: The centaur in the Harry Potter film (I forget which one) was awful, in my opinion. Looked like a jerky toy. The centaurs here are incredible. There are dozens of them, strolling through scene after scene, in the background, or right up front and center and real as you please. I have no small interest in this, of course, because my epic Gaean trilogy features centaurs in starring, speaking roles, and the books are under option, and it’s only recently that it’s been possible to render them believably. I wish the DVD had had more of a behind-the-scenes feature. There is a bloopers reel, and in it you can see the “centaurs” standing around the scenes, and they are people wearing green pajama bottoms. How they plugged the equine lower quarters into those scenes is a mystery to me … but then so is almost everything about CGI. As Stan Freberg said when asked how they stuffed those little almonds into the prunes: They do it. That will have to suffice.