Movie Reviews, Commentary & More

The Chronicles of Narnia - Movie Review

I'm not a fan of fairy tales, because they can neither educate nor challenge an adult viewer. So, entertainment is the only inviting parameter for an adult to consider buying tickets. These days, lots of magic is crafted on the screen with technical advancements and the story telling techniques have been constantly redefined, that they provide enough entertainment for an adult to walk out of the theatre without complaining about the story. Even if the the narration and visual effects fail to captivate the audience, a solid story can hold the attention of the viewer. 'The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' written by C.S.Lewis and directed by Andrew Adamson for screen, falls just short of the entertainment threshold in the areas mentioned above.

During World War II, four kids belonging to a family in London are sent to a lesser known place to spend a few days with a Professor Kirkie. To kill boredom, the kids play hide and seek which offers an opportunity for Lucy, the youngest of them all to explore a wardrobe which transports her to the magical world of Narnia. Later, she comes back and takes her brothers and sister to Narnia, where they discover that the arrival of all the four siblings is a part of a prophesy which hints at the end of the rule of the evil witch and the revival of king Azlan's period. There is some light drama where the younger brother betrays them all for some candies, a couple of beavers helping the siblings get to Azlan's army and a friendship plot between Lucy and a faun. Then there is a battle scene in the end where good triumphs over evil [remember, it's a fairy tale!!] and the kids become kings and queens and they all are again transported back to the professor's place through the wardrobe.

The story is told in such a way that is neither interesting nor boring. Everything in the movie is marked by formality - the dialogues, the screenplay, the photography and the art work. The conversation is not witty enough and it doesn't have that effusive enthusiasm that will keep the kids happy and the drama is so loosely constructed for an adult to be attentive. When visual effects are setting new standards, this movie's effects feels like 2001. The ape in KingKong was a piece of work; I could ruffle my fingers through the hairy skin of that giant ape. Whereas here, king Azlan (a lion) is a product of poor animation - it feels like a poster calendar. It's always snowing in the world of Narnia (because of a 100 year winter declared by the evil witch). But the photographer doesn't do anything to bring life to the frames shot in Narnia and they all look same, they all look bland.

There are two feel good factors - Georgie Henley who plays Lucy and Tilda Swinton who plays the white witch. Georgie doesn't overplay any scene and wavers between 'cute' facial expressions and 'authentic' reactions. Kudos to Georgie and the director for extracting high quality work. Swinton is a seasoned actor and doesn't need any introduction - she brings life to the white witch. 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' is not a bad movie. I don't regret the time and money spent on it. But if this is any indication of the quality of the sequel [Prince Caspian] I don't have a compelling reason to see that one.

Indian Movies - Wish List

No, it's not the list of movies I'd like to see. But some of the elements I'd like to see in a movie.

Drama - Movie characters developed with immense realism.

1) The make-up should be top class - you are convinced that if you step out of the house and stare, you can see one such face on the road.
2) The protagonists live in a rented house.
3) The hero borrows money to pay for his child's school fee - a pinch of embarrassment as he counts the money.
4) The mother ties the shoe laces as the child desperately drags to go to school.
5) Husband fights with his wife over an avoidable expense, cools down after a few minutes and seeks her acceptance with a romantic intention.
6) A family tragedy has happened, which the couple can't deal with. Their child says something that brings a new dimension to dealing with the tragedy.
7) The family sits down on the floor and eats together.
8.) The wife gossips about her neighbour's new dress with her husband - totally credible dialogues.
9) Photographer should not employ artificial lights. Just choose the time of the day appropriate for the shot.
10) The editor should allow the movie to unfold at a leisure pace and should make no concessions for the short memory span audience.

Comedy & Tragedy - My wish list is subjective, hey, but so is the nature of comedy & tragedy.

11) I like slapstick - I'll laugh if somebody falls down or hits a pillar - as long as it's absolutely believable.
12) When I'm not laughing, I should be smiling.
13) I don't care about logic as long as it's authentic funny. If the comedy is logical, it adds value.
14) The characters performing shouldn't be laughing. That's such a bad idea. Especially if it's a bad joke, only the people on the screen laugh and that all the more irritates me.
15) Timing - self explanatory.
16) No tragic scenes of love failures, mother deaths, father abuses etc. I have an inherent hatred for cliches.
17) I am moved when somebody falls down or hits a pillar - as long as the scene is believable and the character development is complete.
18.) Actors don't cry, but emote extremely well, so that I identify with the on-screen person completely and cry for him/her.
19) Capture the thin veil of sadness lying beneath the common man who aspires to be a superstar. It's very difficult but pays off extremely well.
20) No song when a tragedy strikes. The most stupidest time to sit through a song.

Songs, Sex & Violence - Essential Indian movie masala ingredients.

21) Continuing [20], I don't want a song following a good comedy scene. That director should have mercy upon us.
22) Songs with meaningful lyrics, sung by artistes who know the language and recorded in such a way that the music doesn't mask the words.
23) Screenplay very sneakily makes room for the audience to open their 'imagination doors' and slides the song.
24) When the song is over, the screenplay should carefully bring the audience back to the story instead of bouncing them with a 'twist scene' immediately after a song.
25) Songs should be a welcome break, not a bathroom break.
26) The producers think that a macho man showing his muscle mass will attract girls. The producers think that a fine female form with minimum dress will make the teen boys to flock to the theatres. Here's a cardinal rule: Sex appeal is not in showing off skin.
27) Dear director, if you think a couple wearing flimsy material singing duet under an artificial waterfall is sexy..... you're simply wasting film reels and water. How about using your brain for a change? Or at least, look at French romantic dramas in the past ten years. If they don't teach you, it simply means you don't have any good taste.
28.) Hi photographer, shooting in a semi-dark room using a cool blue filter is so Web0.5. Please graduate.
29) Fights need to be over the top, like in Chinese kung-fu movies, that you either laugh at them or adore the choreography, or should be gritty realistic like in Mahanadhi. Stunts in mainstream movies have become such a bore.
30) Any fight sequence shouldn't cross the 3-minute mark. Anything longer than that is brain damage.