I watched the first part of the Narnia-chronicles mainly because I heard about the rumours that it is used by fundamental christians as propaganda (Philip Pullman’s ingenious »Dark Materials«-series is viewed as the counterpart to this). So I might have been slightly preoccupied when watching the movie but I just can’t help it: this was one of the worst things I have ever seen. I know it may be a little unfair to compare it with Lord of the Rings because Narnias target audience is much younger, but on the other hand this being a children-movie is no accuse for doing almost everything wrong that you can do wrong in a movie. What that would be can be read after the break.
Firstly, bad camera work. I always had this stunning shots from LotR in my mind (Saruman’s tower, Gondor etc.) when I was watching this, I admit it. Not that they don’t have any astounishing tracking shot’s, they also fuck up most of the dynamic and tension with almost no camera movement whatsoever and boring shots.
That’s another point, the editing was really bad, there was no excitment coming up in battle- or escape-scenes. Okay, the did nice work in the big battle-scene in the end, which was one of the very few good parts of the movie. How peculiar for a film that is supposed to be christian (nice how Santa brings weapons, too). Aside from the great battle in the end dynamics were really lame, e.g. when Peter kills one of the wolfs and becomes a knight, you would expect that fight to take more than one second, wouldn’t you? Maybe it’s realistic that way but it’s still totally unsatisfying.
Then: bad lighting. Everything is just bright. Even in the night shadows seem not to exist in Narnia, everything just turns blue and slightly darker. I still wonder if that has to do something with the version I watched but screenshots show that there are lots of parts where they just overexposed the film. This comes along with real flaws in integrating characters in photo- or CGI background.
And I can’t help but I thinking that the acting was really bad too (and for the casting: how should anybody believe these four children are brothers and sisters?). To make it worse the characters behavior was pretty stupid too. Peter for example looks like he never held a sword throughout the entire movie (but is leading an army to war after being in Narnia for two days) and has to do really stupid hero-poses when first meeting Aslan.
I know it might be a boys dream to be king and lead an army but it just totally looks ridiculous. In LotR the Hobbits played very important roles and were the ones the viewer/reader identified most with but – forgive me for writing this – armies where let by real men (or woman) not children. And I think this is a fundamental point about the whole Narnia movie/book, other than Lyra from Pullman’s Dark Materials who is a brave, smart girl, who plays a fundemental role in her universe too, she still is just a girl. The Narnia-world is too much cliche for me with this: »Hey, we know it’s every child’s fantasy, so here is this secret kingdom right in your wardrobe with prophecy and everything just waiting for you to be king.«-attidude. Even Harry Potter is more likeable because he really struggles all the time with the chosen-one role he has to play.
There are other flaws that make you sit there not believing it: How are Susan and Lucy supposed to hear what the White Witch is saying while killing Aslan, when they are about 100 meters away from each other and have a screaming crowd of monsters between them? This movie had some really Plan 9 from Outer Space-like moments, when you just didn’t know who is supposed to be talking to whom.
I looked forward to see Tilda Swinton in this, it seems a pretty adorable role for her, but her performance was just as unconvincing as everybody elses (and I don’t get what her rastas where supposed to mean). Interesting too, that in both, LotR and Narnia, the Asian/Arabic people are on the side of the bad guys. Racism, anyone?
Nice was: The ice-palace (I did not get that the creatures were supposed to be turned into stone for a long time, though. It looked like concrete or papier-mâché if anything. And then again: when she was living in an ice palace and is called White Which would it not maybe make a little more sense to turn people into ice instead of concrete?), the creature design (aside from the CGI-animals of course) and the costumes.
And, one last thing: I hate you people (no idea if it was Lewis or the movie-guys) for not letting the girls (at least Susan) go to war. You fucking conservatives.