Harried Harry and Narniarific
By templedf on Dec 27, 2005
Perhaps it's odd for adults to watch children's films, but if so, then my wife and I are odd. (Perhaps regardless.) We've seen pretty much every Disney film since Lion King in the theater. (We missed Chicken Little, but that was because it came out while we were moving.) We've also seen all of the Harry Potter films. We find it rather refreshing to see a movie every so often that isn't about shooting people or sex. I guess we are odd.
Our great accomplishment this Christmas break was finally to see Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It took us so long because I had to read the book before seeing Harry, and we couldn't see Narnia until we'd seen Harry.
Let's talk about Harry first. I thought the book was great, for what it was. It wasn't literature, but it was a nice book for a kids. It stuck out rather markedly from the previous three books in that Rowling seemed to be writing the characters based on the actors in the movies. The movie struggled with the length of the book. There was simply so much detail in the book that fitting it into a feature length film was outright impossible. The screenwriters and producers did an admirable job of removing excess plot threads, but in order to fit the whole story on the screen, things had to be squeezed pretty tightly. I spent the entire movie feeling like I was late for something. The pace at which the story raced by made it difficult to keep up with. The problem was not aided by the dropping of a few too many details. All in all, I'd say the book was as good or better than the previous, but the movie was as bad as the first.
On to Narnia. I have been a fan of the C. S. Lewis series since I was very young. I have to say that the books are literature, and much to my appreciation, the movie was a brilliant tribute to the books. As is always the case, some of the details had to be shifted around, but in total it was very true to the original text. Tilda Swinton was amazing as the White Witch. I was happy to see that the movie makers didn't pull any (important) punches. In particular the scene at the Stone Table near the end of the story was every bit as effective on screen, if not more. Based on my wife's reaction, (She hasn't read the book.) I think I'd recommend seeing the movie before reading the book. The twists and surprises in the book appear to have come through as well or better on screen, and they can be savored in the text no matter how well you know the story.
If you're looking for an absolute opinion, I'd give Harry a C+ and Narnia an A+.