Movies of books you love are always a minefield, but the first two entries in the Narnia film series (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian) worked pretty well for me. I had some minor quibbles with the length and amount of fighting, but at least there really were epic battles in each of those books, and in general I liked the way things were handled. Not so much with the third film, which we saw yesterday. The C.S. Lewis book is my favorite of the Narnia series by him, and it’s not about battles, it’s an episodic tale of exploration and discovery through the seas and islands east of Narnia. The filmmakers seemed to be unable to make a film out of that, so they cobbled together an evil enemy force from several elements and ran it through the entire story, made every adventure involve some kind of fighting or swordplay, inflated a dragon incident to great length and importance, and essentially tried to make the story as much like a Harry Potter movie as possible.
The best thing in the film for me is shown above, Reepicheep the proud and fearless warrior mouse, handled with quite effective CGI animation, and well acted vocally. The human actors played their parts as written well enough, with the boy playing the annoying Eustace the most entertaining, but the story kept veering off the tracks too much for me to really enjoy much of that. Here and there were a few quieter scenes—based on parts of the book—that weren’t bad: the magician’s house, the gold pool, The star at Aslan’s table, the final scene near Aslan’s country, some of the sailing. The opening and closing scenes of the children entering and exiting Narnia were fine. Mostly, though, it was monsters and battles, characters not in the book or greatly changed, story elements likewise.
Ellen, who hasn’t read the book, thought it was pretty good, and if I hadn’t I’d probably have enjoyed it more. As it stands, I can’t recommend it.