Well, I knew they’d have to modernize it, and pick up the pace and some loose-ends (I think many of my favorite books would never be published if they were written this century), but still I was disappointed.
Just a little, maybe, like when you take a bite out of something and find it’s hollow. It doesn’t taste bad, it really is fine for what it is, but it’s less substantial than I’d expected.
Jay’s concise evaluation:
There were so many thumbs-up and thumbs-down it kind-of came out as neutral.
Only fair to say *Spoiler Warning* and break here, but I hope you come back when you’ve seen the movie and tell me what you thought.
My opinion on some of the changes:
The plusses and neutrals:
- Loved the way they introduced Ed’s torch. I always loved the anachronism of the flashlight in Narnia.
- Adding substance and different motivation to each of the two “henchmen” was brilliant. As a storyteller/writer I’d often felt the only reason for two plotters was it gave the reader something to eavesdrop on. This was an improvement.
- Considering the age of the actors the sweetness between Su and Caspian was probably unavoidable, so I thought it was managed well enough. Considering the way the two actors talked about the roles I was thankful it wasn’t weird.
- The higher female involvement was also inevitable, if a little, hmm, trying-too-hard at times. They showed that female centaur a lot. I appreciated the youngster; that was a nice element.
- The way they scripted the single-combat was perfect (though I thought cameras were a bit weird) including the pseudo-surprise ending. A change from the book, but an improvement in my opinion. (Not so much the bit with Caspian, though that was okay, but the bit with Sopespian. Genius).
- I like that Miraz’s wife and son don’t disappear as soon as they move the plot forward.
- The king’s-face helmets were a nice cultural touch and a new/unique way of depersonalizing the enemy army for the big battle-scene we all knew was coming.
- The handling of the White Witch’s possible return. I got a whole other “message” out of this version than the one in the book. It worked for me, but doubtless won’t for others.
- Peter’s issues/anger: being back in a boy’s body, powerless, in a state of limbo about when he could return to the world he missed. An angle I’d never considered and seemed very legitimate.
- From Jay, and not exactly a change, more the plague of the genre: automatic cross-bows and ridiculous siege engines; instant death from wounds that, face it, have to bleed-out before they’re fatal.
- The fabricated conflict between Peter and Caspian (One thing that always impressed me in the book was their relationship of mutual respect). It was a nice way for them to meet, sure, but it dragged out too long and either spawned or was the result of another poor choice:
- The invasion of the castle. Pointless and angstie. Didn’t effectively move the story at all, just a filler fight-scene (all the info from there was available elsewhere).
- Lack of Aslan. He’s already doing less than in the first book, and they minimized even some things they could have kept in their new take on the story.
- Caspian trying to justify himself to the Narnians. This was a nice try, but with the Narnians pushing the argument in the first place, they let it go way too easily.
- The children’s– all of them– ability to jump immediately into killing other human beings. Yes, I recognize need-of-the-now is everything, but these are “normal” kids, and showed a reluctance already in this film of killing a bear they thought might be a talking bear. To move from a traumatized observing to a calculated participation– that was a little unnerving for me.
- About that bear: the message of what makes a creature stop being a talking beast *totally* changed. Here in the movie it was “When you’ve been treated like an animal long enough,” whereas in the book it was if they stopped behaving like talking beasts. You can imagine I don’t like the former as much, being so much into personal autonomy and responsibility…
In the next movie, this movie’s ending—
Lucy: I’m sure I’ll understand when I’m older
Edmund: I’m older and I don’t think I want to understand—
will pay-off with some parallel set of observations from the older pair no longer returning. Probably related to the Star’s daughter Caspian ends up with.
This movie is a good example of how most stories cannot support many major characters. The characters felt more shallow this time around, I think because the writers were conscientiously trying to make everybody contribute something equally significant. Everybody has to have a story-point epiphany.
Jay says we’ll still buy it, because he likes having full sets. “But I don’t think I’ll watch it much,” he added mournfully.
I had to laugh. We don’t watch anything much. I think the reason I’ve gotten so in to shows like Bones (Life, House M.D., Chuck…) is they’re storytelling in a hurry. And someone like me always needs a fix.
I need the solid ending and the Mmm, that was good. that goes with a well-written and a well-played story. This was more like pretzels when I was expecting a Chili’s dinner.
I’ll get over it. I’m trying to talk Jay into watching something more with me. I feel a need to get a good story in before bed.