Published on August 2nd, 2006 | by The Beige Baron


The Pious, The Snitch & The Boredrobe

Welcome to The Lord of the Rings Lite™, proudly brought to you by Disney Frebreeze™ – Wipe Those Unsightly Dead Off The Battlefield With New Spraypak Frebreeze™!

Do you love a good fantasy adventure, but can’t hack violent action sequences? Do you love magic, but not the nasty black kind? Do you like beaver, but only if its G-rated? Are you comfortable with bad dentistry? Curious about What Jesus Really Looked Like?

Then does Disney have the movie for you!

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe might have actually been a half decent film if the director had made up his mind whether he was making it for kids or for adults. LOTR succeeded largely because Jackson wasn’t trying to add a few extra billion to the bottom line by removing the blood and fear from his movie so mum and dad could bring little Timmy to the premier.

The Narnia movie, however, might delight the five-year-olds, but despite being pitched as a please-everyone magical movie experience, it did nothing for me at all. In fact I prefer the 1988 BBC TV Narnia series for its rich unintentional humour, comedic special effects and for Sophie Wilcox’s spectacular buck-toothed, star-eyed performance as Lucy.

The movie version is just bland, bland, bland. The kid’s performances – such as they were – were so overwhelmed by CGI beavers you hardly noticed they were acting at all. Kind of like a porno, really.

The White Witch looked like a Fitzroy feral recently returned from a holiday at Byron Bay’s Crystal Castle, and Maugrim the Terrifying Alsatian was voiced by what sounded like a pissed LA cab driver. It wouldn’t have jarred so much if the rest of the cast didn’t speak like they had the entire shipment of Coles’ plums rammed up their arses.

The landscapes?

Excuse me, Peter Jackson, do you mind if we use some of the NZ foothills while you make your movie? Some of those old ratty pines you don’t want? You see, we kind of blew our budget on the beavers and the flying cheetah, and the rhino… well he hasn’t been doing too well since the 100 year winter came, the Galapogus turtle has a cold, and the National Museum is asking for the wardrobe back… it would really help us out… you know, just the bits you aren’t using…

I liked that the director worked the whole ‘family tensions’ angle more than the previous screen production, and that Edmund was less insufferable than his previous incarnation in 1988. Peter and Susan are still cocks though. If I had brothers and sisters like that, I wouldn’t betray them to the White Witch, I kill them myself.

I found the first two acts tedious. I wanted the spectacular battle scene I had been promised during the 10 months of relentless hype leading up to the premier, especially given that the whole family could ride horses at Equestrian level (thanks Eton), demolish targets with a bow and arrow (again, Eton), and deploy an enormous army taking into account strategic and tactical objectives (what!?). That should have made for a good scrap, right?

I guess if the fight scene could be called ‘miraculous’, it would be in the respect that an army made up of savage wild animals and ax-wielding dwarves could go the whole 10 rounds with Hell’s Legions without a drop of blood being spilt or anyone actually dying.

During the violent collision of the two charging forces, every time a sword was swung I was expecting a 350psi explosion of blood and a horrible scream, but it seems that in Disney’s Narnia, just swinging is enough. Maybe they played hand-clapping games. You don’t have to worry your little head about actually hitting anything., Roger! Bright shiny swords and bright shiny armour, hooray! Nasty horrid bad people go away, what?

I found myself barracking for the bad guys. At least they have a hot feral chick as leader and they can do whatever they want. The Good Guys idea of fun, as extrapolated in a scene between Susan and Lucy, where the latter admonished the former for being, ‘boring’, involved exactly two splashes of water from a tinkling stream. One given, one received. Ho, ho, ho, ho!

Maugrim! Maugrim! Get me out of here!

Audiences are getting blasé about CGI. We have witnessed enough of the impossible now for the mind to cough, absent-mindedly count its pocket change and sort of wander outside for a cigarette.

A flying lion? Hardly, dude.

Real tension, drama and the suspension of disbelief come from story, script, direction and performances, not some Maori Star Wars cast-off superimposed onto a horse’s body. Even when SFX was as brilliantly done as it was in this movie, the magic comes from character and situation… what succeeded in the novel did not in this film.

The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe was a spectacular marketing success and for me, 140 minutes of wasted time. If I want to repeat the experience any time soon, I’ll rent a copy of The Two Towers and half watch it while flicking through a copy of Biggles Comes Up The Rear and listening to the Bible on audiotape.


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Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

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