Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Big Old Kittycat, Ms. Frigid, and The Big Box Full o' Fur and Trees

I was so looking forward to seeing King Kong this week...but ended up going to The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe instead. Family insistence, you see. I will yet have my day in the sun on Skull Island. Perhaps later in the week. For now, here's the Narnia review.

A few months ago, James Lileks said of TLTWTW that "from the trailers it looks like The Lemony Snicket Kids Meet Orcs and Cruela DeVil in Switzerland, Plus a Lion". And so it does. That's the magic of fantasy on film -- everything reminds you of something else that you've seen before, but in a different setting. Or perhaps a familiar setting. Care to accompany me on the ride?

The movie starts off as an ostensible homage to Bedknobs & Broomsticks, with Germans attacking England during the Second World War, and a group of siblings taking the train to a safe haven where they are greeted by a cranky woman who has no interest in the kids whatsoever. The train that takes them there is the Hogwarts Express. At least that's what I think it was. Didn't you?

The kids amuse themselves inside of stately Wayne Manor, where they discover that kindly old Professor Bilbo Baggins possesses a wardrobe that is full of fur coats and has a secret back door exit that dumps you in the forest where Kris Kringle met the Winter Warlock. The youngest of the kids, Lucy, goes first and has tea with a relative of Philoctetes. On her second visit, brother Edmund follows her. Edmund gets a nice cuddle from the Borg Queen Galadriel, who magically gave him a hot drink and some candy before kicking him out of her magic sleigh. This rather took me by surprise, because up to that point it looked like she was getting ready to breastfeed him. He seemed to be looking forward to it, but the movie had a PG rating to uphold, so we had to move on at that point. Besides, her Oompa Loompa chauffeur might have gotten jealous.

Edmund, seduced with the promise of the Borg Queen's mother's milk, returned along with Lucy and the older two, Peter and Susan. At first opportunity, Edmund ditches the others in order to run out in pursuit of his new sweetie. This may not have been such a bad move, considering that Peter, Susan and Lucy were in an underground latrine eating food that had been handled by rodents. Soon we meet up with the saber tooth tigers from Ice Age, here portraying a pack of wolves who act as a sort of Gestapo for Galadriel. The good guys get away by following in the footsteps of Frodo Baggins and the Fellowship through the frozen wastelands of Middle Earth. During their sojourn, they meet up with Santa Claus, who complains about the Borg Queen's gimmick infringement (he had a sleigh first!) and gives the kids a small arsenal to use in battle, making him officially the coolest Santa in the history of motion pictures. I want a MOAB and a daisy cutter next Christmas.

Peter uses his new sword in a most unorthodox way to rescue his sisters and their friends, the rodents, from the Gestapo wolfpack. By this time, spring had set in and our heroes soon found an army consisting mostly of horny guys and a bunch of horses' asses -- literally!

The kids soon enjoyed the privilege of meeting the leader of the good guys, none other than Qui-Gon Jinn, here reincarnated as a lion. This guy has the worst luck with his apprentices. First he prematurely dumps Obi-Wan Kenobi in order to take on Anakin Skywalker as his pupil, then gets killed before he can even get around to demonstrating light saber technique to the kid, who grows up to become Darth Vader. Next he decides to join the dark side and trains Bruce Wayne, who just wants to be a good guy, and the two of them end up burning down each other's house. As king of Narnia, Qui-Gon foolishly steps forward and offers to train Peter. Since the kids had never seen either of those other two movies, they had no idea what a bad idea it was to accept. So naturally Qui-Gon dies, even though he's a big powerful lion who can eat the flesh off of any opponent.

Or does he really die? On the eve of the big battle, Galadriel visits Qui-Gon in his private tent. We don't know exactly what happens inside, probably because of that pesky PG rating again. Maybe he was thirsty for some milk, if you know what I mean. The two opposing parties made some kind of pact that involved Qui-Gon going over to her place. Sounds like he got the better of the deal, if getting shaved bald and having a blade plunged into your heart works to your advantage. Some women are like that.

And it always happens at the worst time, like when your friends are staging a reenactment of the battle of Helms Deep using fourth graders and farm animals. It doesn't help either when Borg Queen Galadriel is the toughest thing on the field. I must confess that I was getting thirsty for cold milk by this point in the film. There's a certain attractive quality about powerful women, no matter how creepy and icy they are. Plus, it behooves one to be on her good side when she is such an effective killing machine.

Dead old Qui-Gon, meanwhile, has spent the night serving as a mattress for Susan and Lucy, who witnessed his execution and have been in mourning ever since. As soon as they turn their backs, his corpse disappears. As soon as they turn around to see what just happened, Qui-Gon jumps up from behind Stonehenge and yells "Surprise!" He even has a nice toupee to make him look dashing until his hair can grow back.

At this point, we learn a dark and terrible secret about the risen lion: His halitosis is so stinky and awful that it can make statues come to life and run away. Qui-Gon recruits the stunned former hunks of stone into his anti-Galadriel army and quickly makes his way over to Helms Deep.

The battle is going badly; Peter's horse got shot out from under him, and Edmund tried to take the Borg Queen one-on-one. Just in the nick of time, Qui-Gon "The Lion" Jinn leaps across the field and directly on top of Galadriel. The action takes place off-screen; we can surmise that Qui-Gon certainly ate her face, possibly finished off the milk, and maybe even a few other things that I would rather not mention. One thing is certain: the stunned expressions on four young faces tell us that, in that one brief moment, no small degree of innocence had been lost.

Qui-Gon's violence certainly inspired one of the girls. Susan finally got around to playing with the fun toys that she got from Santa Claus and shot an arrow that punctured the Oompa Loompa's heart. Imagine the scene that would have unfolded if the Narnia kids had visited Willie Wonka's chocolate factory. There would have been a mass funeral for all of the Oompa Loompas killed during the resulting slaughter.

Speaking of Willie Wonka, there is a scene where one of the boys (Edmund?) reaches down and rips a handful of grass from the ground. I swear to you, I thought for sure that he was going to eat it like the grass that grows in Wonka's factory. Darn it all, he didn't!

Having won the day with the lion's help, the kids are crowned kings and queens, and manage to reach adulthood before rediscovering the back door to the fur closet and returning home. Interesting: Peter looked like Kurt Russell thirty years ago, and adult Peter looked like Kurt Russell twenty years ago. If they ever do a movie where he's a middle aged man, they could actually get Kurt Russell to play him.

Sarcasm aside (finally), what did I think of the movie? I liked it! I was worried about getting burned out on all of the Tolkien, Harry Potter, etc. type movies that have been flooding the market in recent years, but this was fresh because it was fun. Go see it, and keep your sense of humor about you.

Say, have you noticed that I keep making references to movies based on works by J. R. R. Tolkien? You'd think that he and Narnia author C. S. Lewis were friends or something, wouldn't you?

1 comment:

jipzeecab said...

A great movie review..ought to be published somewhere..