Monday, May 19, 2008

Prince Caspian

Overall: It was a good movie and retained a lot of the Narnian elements, but was not nearly as faithful to the text as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. There are some movies (like The Princess Bride) that are simply like the book put on screen, and there are some (like Ella Enchanted) that are so completely unlike the book you just give up and enjoy it (if you've never heard of Ella Enchanted: recommend the book very highly, also recommend the movie, but they are completely different stories and should not be put in the same mental category). Then there's the third type: those that are enough like the movie that you can tell the writers made an effort to tell the same story, but then have these moments when they go off in some strange novel direction. I like those least, because I cringe every time there's a deviation from the sacred text. (Yes, I am a book snob.)

Sequencing/pace: Some instances I was more willing to let slide than others. Although the book is not so long that it couldn't have been made entire into a movie, there are certain scenes that were admittedly a bit slow-paced and thus perhaps not well-suited to film (at least not in this age of films with constant action). However, there are certain things I think were done badly: for instance, they cut out the meeting with Aslan that occured during the journey down the river and replaced it with a 5-second scene much later in the movie. Then there were the things they added: The storming of Miraz's castle, for instance, was entirely made up out of the filmmaker's heads and I think did nothing for the movie except add a long and rather dark battle scene. The summoning of the White Witch was also unnecessarily protracted, although it did allow for a very admirable bit of action by Edmund, who has matured and learned some things since the last movie.

The character of Caspian: I think I liked this one least of all the characters--not that the character was bad, but just that he caused the most cringing. The first objection was purely subjective, so I won't count it against the filmmakers: I always pictured Prince Caspian as being a young teen (perhaps 14 or 15 at the most); in the movie he's played by 27-year-old actor. This isn't a huge flaw and I can see why they want to do it. As Durnhelm said, he looks more the age she pictured Caspian being in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and of course they would want to use the same actor. The real objection I have to Caspian's character is that in spite of his age, he is far more immature than the Caspian of the books. Sure, book-Caspian was often unsure of himself and did some silly things, but he had a good head on his shoulders and was willing to take correction from his elders, unlike movie-Caspian who was constantly arguing with Peter.

The character of Peter: This is one of those instances of symbolic blindness on the part of filmmakers attempting to adapt a Christian-themed book. Nobody seems to get that Peter is really supposed to be a sort of servant-leader to the others. He's not High King Peter so that he can have a fancy title and boss everybody around. He's High King Peter so that when Aslan's not around he's the one who lays down his life for the sake of the people of Narnia. Instead, the filmmakers portray him as your typical (or stereotypical, I should say) obnoxious teenager who wants his own way all the time, doesn't take responsibility for his mistakes, and is constantly losing his temper with those who get in his way.

The character of Aslan: Again, are you illiterate or just non-Christian, that you do not get what Aslan is supposed to be like? In the movie he doesn't even show up until about 2 hours in (yes, I was looking at my watch) and then it's just: Oh, Aslan's here, battle's over, the end. Aslan is not a deus ex machina to just sweep in and smash the opposition. I find it very frustrating that they don't really treat him as a character with his own unique personality. He's just a plot device.

The character of Susan: Cringe, cringe, cringe. What is it with filmmakers that they always have to have at least one female character who goes and fights with the men? First of all, it downplays the sacrifice the men are making to protect their homes and families. Second, it downplays the role that women have, which is distinct from what the men do. Book-Susan was still not somebody to be messed with and could certainly give Legolas a run for his money in the feats-of-archery department. But she is not supposed to be in the battle! That's why she has a bow and arrows! Did anyone else think it looked rather absurd when Susan was trying to fight at close range with her bow? That's not what they're for, sillies. *takes deep breath* I don't have anything more to say about this character right now...someday perhaps I will write a post about my thoughts on ladies and knighthood in the context of the fantasy genre. Back in my pre-blog days I wrote a cranky email to Durnhelm because I had just finished reading The Lord of the Rings and needed to rant about how I felt the female characters were all messed up in the movies. But I digress...

The thing between Caspian and Susan: All I can say is: huh?! Who thought that would be a good idea? I was ranting to Scott about this last night. Perhaps I was made more cranky than warranted because I had been watching another movie at home earlier (The Prince and Me) that had wayyyy too much making out between the two main characters. First kissing scene: kind of cute. Tenth kissing scene: would you two stop that already? I mean, did they ever actually have a conversation? Okay, so there was one scene where they were discussing one of Shakespeare's sonnets. But still, it seems like this whole romance was based simply on the fact that they found each other physically attractive, not because of any shared interests or goals or anything like that. Why is it that every time they found a second to be alone together they would start this passionate embracing thing? What every happened to just spending time getting to know each other? The fact that I was telling my very own boyfriend all about the disgustingness of modern romance movies shows how bad it was. I have nothing against romance, in fact I rather enjoy it...BUT I do not think it's romantic when passionate kissing is all your boyfriend ever wants to do with you. I would say it's a lot more romantic when one's boyfriend actually knows the meaning of "self-control".

Well, I've gone off on a huge tangent now, plus I've used up my daily allowance of italics, so I will let you, my dear readers, go on to something else.


Theocentrica said...

I haven't seen the movie yet...
But I hear that in one part where Lucy(?) asks Aslan what would've happened, he says "We can never know" instead of "No one is ever told." Talk about downplaying omniscience...

Dernhelm said...

Good review! And I agree about most of it. Although I'm not sure Aslan is a Deus Ex Machina. The book was likewise very frustrating because he doesn't show up until the end. Initially I was upset by this as well, thinking it made his character more of a plot device. But now I think it in fact deepens the understanding of Aslan as God. He isn't visibly always there when you want Him to be. It's a Dark Night of a Soul story. That's my take, anyway.

Of course, that doesn't excuse Peter and Caspian for being brats. As I jokingly told Paul "They should just kiss and make up already!" Lol.

Turner Guy said...

Just a little comment on the "thing between Caspian and Susan," just a few questions and random thingies related:

1. Have you ever been to Kings Island? I go there at least once every year, and in every line sometimes right next to me there was a man and a woman "passionately" kissing (even though I generally thought neither of them were attractive...).

2. I can tell you generally that the ONLY reason two average people would marry each other is that the girl was cute and the man was likewise, and on average there is no bond whatsoever between the two except this fantasy little girls call "Love's first kiss."

3. People like romance. People like action too, but the thing that makes a box-office hit is the quality of the Romance, such as making out, closet-scenes, "affectionate embraces," the whole iceberg. Again, it's very easy to tell from your perspective that you do not often visit places such as Kings Island, the mall, skate parks, or even proms and the such. Romance is a stereotype of every movie made from now on. Somehow even children's movies have ended up with some degree of it, like Alvin and the Chipmunks contained a good deal of "teased love."

I hope this was a help to anybody who was "in the dark" on this whole Romance thing.