Monday, August 31, 2009

Movie Journal: Prince Caspian

I remembering reviewing this film when it was released in theaters. I was in a good mood, and there were aspects of the film that(at the time) I preferred over The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe. I rated the film an 8 out of 10, which was essentially stating that it was a "great film". I was wrong.

Why? Well, for many reasons. The new Prince Caspian film has some serious problems, one of the most prominent being the failure to establish a sense of danger and dread. Consider the fact that the very first scene in the original Chronicles of Narnia dropped us right into the middle of a bombing run. People were dying, and if the Pevensie family didn't move fast, they were going to die too. What better a way to establish conflict? Intense scenes like those helped make up for the film's obvious visual misinterpretations of the story in terms of the action.

In contrast, Prince Caspian does not have any bombing runs or crashing waterfalls. Just more of the same, kid-friendly conflict. Only this time, it was cheesier. To tell the truth, I don't think the first film ever really established that the Pevensie kids were really capable of the majority of the violence they inflict in the Prince Caspian film, and that's only part of the problem.

I would again submit that the creators' kid-friendly approach to the action is very unrepresentative of C.S. Lewis' stories. Sure, his books weren't explicit in terms of violence in a sense. But Lewis does mention that it takes place. Having said that, I find the complete and utter lack of true violence simply castrating in terms of the story, not to mention silly and unbelievable. The Chronicles Of Narnia should not be treated with any less authenticity than the Lord Of The Rings series.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Movie Journal: Happy Gilmore

Happy Gilmore is a sports comedy about a pro hockey player wannabe who's grandmother's house is repossessed by the IRS. By sheer chance he discovers he has something of a talent for the game of golf. Being in need of funds for the sake of his grandma, he manages to join a local tournament, after which he is admitted into the pro tour.

Now, from that brief description of the first act, one may be lead to believe that Happy Gilmore is quite typical and standard. But that's quite far from the truth. One thing I really find amazing about the film is, no matter how good at golf Gilmore gets, the plotline still finds ways to retain his status as the story's underdog. It's a sports tale that is less about the main character's constantly pushing himself physically, and more about the calming of his inner conflicts and the harnessing of his emotions. Hence the complete lack of any training montages; the kind that have, quite frankly, plagued the genre for years.

It's really hard not to be impressed by the film's...well, simply bizarre sense of humor. If you just take a few steps back, the whole premise is entirely absurd. And just when you think things are starting to become normal and make sense, there's always that over-the-top twist that never fails to leave you speechless. The utterly incredible final twist of the film's third act is a testament to this.

While it's true that there are a couple major flaws in the plot, they barely register in the first viewing, whereas the sly wit of the jokes get better every time. While it's certainly not perfect, I wouldn't be surprised if this was the very best sports comedy yet produced.

9 out of 10