Narnia review: Aslan the absent
Poor professor Lewis.
While it should be understood by all moviegoers that comparing the two would be like apples and oranges, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, failed to deliver in one essential area where The Lord of the Rings succeeded: It did not remain true to the venerable author’s original work.
Exhibit one is unfortunately the tragedy that is Aslan’s portrayal. Compared to the books, the movie makes him into a tame lion. Most readers who saw it might be puzzled by my assertion because of the way the movie ended with Mr. Tumnus’ statement about tame lions and how Aslan was no such thing. Its presence was gratifying but unfortunately seems to replace the lines that should have been said in the beaver lodge. In the book, the question is posed: “Is he safe?” The emphatic “no…but he is good,” in answer is enough to make readers extremely eager to understand Aslan, to meet him, to probe his character. Peter voices this in the book at that point, carrying the reader with him in his excitement: “I’m longing to see him, even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point.”
In the movie, the Tumnus line is just simply, “he’s not a tame lion, you know…” It didn’t really have any impact except to put a definition on what you already saw, which, quite frankly, was just a talking lion king who killed the witch.
Driven to distraction
It’s quite possible that my negative impression of the movie goes beyond what I consider inadequacies. I’m sure I was more than a little distracted by trivial things like the horrific soundtrack. I was thankful for the times I didn’t notice it. Otherwise I felt like plugging my ears when this or that voice in the music kept trying to take center stage over the visuals.
The good stuff
On the bright side, the animals were awesome. Honestly, if special effects can contribute to the over-all success of a movie, this is the case study. The casting and acting was well done too. The children were just as they should look and feel—although poorly directed many times, causing them too much awkwardness at important moments…like the stone table for example.
Another bright note was the battle scene. More specifically, I appreciated the centaur’s breathtaking moves when he killed the enemy general and challenged Jadis. The children are green at that point and not a little awkward (as it should be), which makes it a little hard to watch sometimes—I expected that, though.
What is left to the imagination in the book tended to find good rendering throughout the movie. All the different fighting styles of so many animals were beautifully choreographed. The witch’s house was dazzling, dark and gave me the creeps—you are left wondering how Edmond can be such a dunce as to think he has a friend in this place.
So that’s a skimming of my thoughts. Yes, I cannot emphasize enough my disappointment over Aslan’s shallow portrayal. One of the most striking evidences is the first conversation he has with Peter. Aslan does nothing to indicate he has any kind of omniscience—you get the idea that He doesn’t know Peter well at all—not where he came from, not what he needs to hear. He even goes so far as to ask Peter the rhetorical question, “You don’t believe in the prophecy?” as if that was a valid question. In the book, Aslan tells Peter that he and his siblings will rule in Cair Paravel and the matter is settled. Peter didn’t respond in protest.
I’m so sorry Professor Lewis. I had hoped people would grow closer to your masterpiece through this movie. I think they will only find themselves more confused. So what is the movie’s point now? If you are looking for a vague allegory of a biblical story as you would in a Veggietales parody, then by all means, this movie is for you—a childish story and nothing more.