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This movie gets four diamonds. Whatever that means.
I guess today’s post is going to be a very early one. I just got home from seeing the first possible showing of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Well of course, what else could one expect? I’m a Christian and I guess I do things like that. That’s exactly what Disney and Walden Media are banking on. Literally.
I will say up front that Narnia is an obvious, shameless attempt to capitalize on the growing population of Americans who proactively call themselves Christians. I’m certain that many fans of the original C.S. Lewis works will have grievances with the film adaptation of this installment in the series, but there’s something important to note here. Between C.S. Lewis and Disney/Walden Media, there is a very important difference. C.S. Lewis was a writer to the glory of God, with the end hope that those who didn’t know Jesus would, and those who did know Jesus would fall more deeply in love with him. His articulate and inspiring allegories and non-fiction works have done this for a vast number of people. Walden Media and Disney, on the other hand, have one thing in mind. Money. They are businesses and it’s what they do, it’s what they exist for and it would be silly for us to expect otherwise.
However more shallow the purpose in producing this series may be, it does not change that an excellent job was done.
For those who are unfamiliar with this installment of the Narnia series, Peter, Edmund, Lucy and Susan have been back in the real world for a year since they’re first trip to Narnia when suddenly they are whisked back. In Narnia times, somewhere around 1000 years have passed and the whimsical creatures of the ancient land have been forced into hiding by a line of corrupt kings of the “son’s of Adam”. When the gang arrives on the scene, they discover things to be quite different than they remember and a lot rougher (also a quality of the film, clearly contrasting the last installment). Alongside Prince Caspian, the rightful heir to the throne, the crew must lead the Narnians in a fight against the army’s of men.
When compared to the story’s close relative The Lord of the Rings, Narnia is child’s play. In the whole film there is next to no graphic violence at all. In fact, the only blood shown is when one character cuts his hand. But let’s remember, this is a family film. And even being such, the lack of graphic violence didn’t take away from the intensity of the action or the story. Unlike the first film, which ultimately felt a bit anticlimactic, this installment pushed the audience’s limits at pretty much every turn. The fight sequences were intense enough to be believed and the characters deep enough to be cared about. The combination made for an extremely enjoyable viewing experience.
The movie’s pacing should also be noted. While nearly everything in the first installment of Narnia felt rushed and crowded, the second installment clearly resolved this problem for the most part. Although the opening sequence involving the children did feel a bit hasty, the rest of the story unfolded with grace and clarity. A friend appropriately described it saying that they fully committed to nearly every sequence. No fight was rushed, no argument skimmed over, no dialogue irrationally assumed. They took their time on every opportunity and it paid off well.
The visual effects in this installment were stellar. One particular sequence involving a water creature stands out as possibly being the best visual effects I have ever seen to date. The music score was also excellent. It never distracted from the movie; in fact, I rarely explicitly noticed it at all.
While it seems that much of the movie stayed true to the book, there are a number of events in the movie which I know for sure were added; likely for commercial appeal. Those who have read the book will probably grumble at them because the additions added little and often threatened what was already there; one quite notably so. I agree that the additions were frivolous and ultimately useless, but let’s remember, Disney and Walden aren’t trying to make disciples here, they’re trying to make money. Once again, this installment also closed with an extremely poor choice in soundtrack. However, the error is easily forgiven, and who can blame them for wanting to sell a few extra copies of the soundtrack album?
One thing that should be noted and praised in this movie adaptation is that glory in this movie is not relinquished to our heroes. They are consistently shown to be failures and incapable of fighting the fight before them. The glory is consistently shifted to Aslan; no doubt Lewis’ original intention.
From an entertainment standpoint, I highly enjoyed this installment; much more than the first one—for sure. But on a personal level, there were many nuggets of C.S. Lewis insight for us to consider. But I don’t want to say too much. For me personally, even some prospects that challenge my own heart and mind when evaluating myself and my desires. One such occasion, Peter has run valiantly into a noble and stubborn fight which he cannot win; in the midst of his stubbornness, Susan rebukes him saying:
“Who are you fighting this for?” Good question, Susan.