December 24, 2005

A Correction to my review of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe

In my review of The Chronicles of Narnia below, I state that the professor casually throws an apple to Peter at the end of the movie when the children emerge from the wardrobe. He asks them what happened, they say he wouldn't believe it, then he says "try me!" while he throws, not an apple, but rather a cricket ball. A cricket ball which had been sent through one of his windows just a few minutes ago by his clock. Of course, the object being a cricket ball rather than an apple destroys the point I was making, so that it is not valid at all, and there is no reference to The Magician's Nephew at all, except to say as a mild spoiler ... (continued below)

that the reason the Professor is so sympathetic to Lucy's story is that the Professor has been in Narnia himself. The Professor is one of the main characters of The Magician's Nephew, and was present, as a young boy named Digory, in Narnia when it was created by Aslan, along with his uncle (the magician), and a friend, a girl named Polly. Indeed, it is Digory himself who brought the White Witch to Narnia from another world altogether, though he did not do it intentionally. The wardrobe itself is made from the wood of an apple tree which was planted, by the Professor, from the seed of an apple from Narnia.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 02:07 PM | Comments (0)

December 09, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia - a Review

I went to see The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe today. I was impressed, they did a great job and were very faithful to the book. They spiced up some of the action scenes to make it a bit more scary when the children and beavers were fleeing the beavers' home with the wolves on their heels (the wolves actually had run ahead of them in the book to cut them off at the Stone Table). That and a few minor modifications to dialog were about all I could see different between the book and the movie.

The casting was excellent, all the children were very closely cast to how I had already pictured them in my imagination while reading the book. The scene with Lucy and Tumnus was pure beauty, even better than I had imagined it before, and I will appreciate that chapter from the book in a whole new light with the images from that scene in my mind.

Acting was good, though I believe the best perfomances were by Peter and Lucy. Edmund and Susan came off a little stiff, though not enough to ruin the movie. Aslan was portrayed really well. I was afraid in advance that he might look too much like a puppet or stuffed toy, but that was not the case at all. He looked real, and the voice-over (Liam Neeson's voice) was superb.

The plot and drama of the story were well-presented even if the movie devotes much more attention to the last battle than the book did. The book certainly makes clear that the battle began before Aslan arrived on the battlefield in his post-resurrection state, so the movie is simply emphasizing what went on at the battlefield rather than Susan's and Lucy's romp on Aslan's back to the castle to resuscitate the witch's past victims. When Aslan finally arrives, Peter is fighting the witch, who has had her wand knocked away (book) or destroyed (movie) by Edmund. So it's merely an effect of emphasizing a different detail while remaining true to the book.

And of course, there's the famous scene of the Stone Table. I'm sure this scene is the sole reason for the PG rating rather than a simple G, as it is much more graphic than the rest of the movie, with its portrayal of the witches evil minions, who mock and harass Aslan as he approaches his fate. The movie is tamer in his treatment than I imagined the scene as I read the book, but I'm sure Walden and Disney did not want to over-emphasize the violence of this scene. Aslan is hit, mocked, and shaved - all shown. The witch says her last words to him and kills him with her knife, but that last blow is not shown in graphic detail, just the motion of her arm from above, with Aslan's body below the bottom of the screen. However, when the full screen shot is in view, and later when the girls appear, he is clearly shown to have died.

A strange image came through my mind when Aslan was talking with the witch about Edmund and his fate. Instead of thinking about Jesus and His atonement for us, the image of Judah, Joseph, and Benjamin (from Genesis) came into my mind - how Judah pleaded for Benjamin's life before Joseph (who Judah did not recognize at the time, as Joseph was living as an Egyptian then). Joseph had demanded that his brothers return to Canaan without their youngest brother, and Judah offered to stay behind in his place. Of course, this event was a sign of Christ offering Himself up in our place, as was Aslan's act of offering himself up for Edmund.

One image right at the end of the movie was a real nice touch, pointing to another book of the Chronicles, The Magician's Nephew. When the children emerge from the wardrobe, the Professor meets them and asks what they were doing in there. Peter says, "You wouldn't believe us if we told you", whereupon the Professor tosses him an apple and says with a smile "Try me!" Readers of that other story will know the significance of that apple and the Professor.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 11:01 PM | Comments (2)

November 01, 2005

Interviews with Doug Gresham, C.S. Lewis's stepson, on the upcoming movie

Christianity Today has a pair of interviews with Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis, related to the upcoming release of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, (or LWW).

In Part 1, Gresham talks about C.S. Lewis and relates some moving testimony of Lewis's faith.

In Part 2, Gresham talks about his relationship with all of the other people on the set of LWW.

The more I read about this movie, including reviews from those who have seen it before, the more excited I get. It looks like Douglas Gresham is doing a fine job of representing C.S. Lewis's vision in this movie.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:26 PM | Comments (0)

October 28, 2005

Chronicles of Narnia: Which one is first?

John J. Miller discusses The Chronicles of Narnia. Which book (there were seven in all) should be considered as the first? The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is being presented by Disney as the first (though there have been lower-budget movies made of the others).

So why does Disney do The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe first, while the book publisher put The Magician's Nephew first? Simple: C.S. Lewis wrote The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe first, and it contains the most important story.

I've read the entire series twice this past year, and I decided to try reading it both ways. I like the original order better, with The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe coming first. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is definitely the foundation of the series. The Magician's Nephew is properly interpreted as a flashback, or as an older man narrating a past event.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 12:38 PM | Comments (2)

August 04, 2005

Interview with Anna Popplewell, Susan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Christianity Today interviews Anna Popplewell, who plays Susan in the upcoming movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:15 PM | Comments (1)

April 27, 2005

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

This December, Disney will release its adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Many have wondered if Disney will cut the Christian message from the movie, but everything I've seen so far seems to indicate that they will keep the movie true to Lewis's meaning. C.S. Lewis's stepson, Douglas Gresham, is serving as a consultant to the movie's production, which is fulfilling a long-term goal for him. I think this movie has as much potential for witnessing to the Gospel as Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ did. For starters, it won't have the "R" rating, so people of all ages will be able to see it. The book, though allegorical, is a clear rendering of what Jesus accomplished, our reconciliation with God. And, of course, it is a very moving story. I'm sure Disney will tone down the violence of The Stone Table, but Lewis's description of that event, in words, rivals that of the descriptions of Christ's Passion found in the Gospels. I'm looking forward to seeing it December 9. I'll probably take the day off from work to do so.

Christianity Today story on Douglas Gresham, containing a link to a NarniaWeb interview

Website for the movie (slow moving but new content since sometime around February when I first saw the site)

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:55 PM | Comments (0)

July 20, 2004

Another note about Spiderman 2

Here's an interesting thought about the movie I didn't realize till I was home and thinking about it. I don't think it's a spoiler so I'll mention it here without hiding it: The play Mary Jane stars in, The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, is based on character deception and mistaken identity, a fitting backdrop for Peter Parker's deception in hiding his identity as Spiderman from Mary Jane, and in resolving his own problems with that dual identity in the end.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:57 PM | Comments (0)

July 19, 2004

Spider-Man 2

Amy and I went to see Spider-Man 2 yesterday. Possible spoilers ahead, so I'll hide the rest, except for this link I found worthwhile (over at Touchstone)

I thought it was a great movie, but there were parts of the movie that bothered me a little bit. They laid it a bit thick with Peter Parker's irresponsibility and poverty early in the movie, and I felt like it dragged on and on there. On the other hand, I'm glad MJ got to see Spider-Man as Peter Parker. There was a lot of tension there with Parker unable to talk freely with Mary Jane about his feelings for her.

I noticed strong similarities to Superman 2, with the superhero retiring to find true love, only to be forced to put his suit back on to fight the evil that can only be fought by those with the power to do so. I had mixed feelings about that - I was happy that Parker was taking action to be a responsible person, yet I knew that he was still denying who he was, and the power and responsibility he was given. I just hope that in a subsequent movie, he'll find a way to pay the rent and hold a job.

The bit of the speech by Aunt Bea about heroism and giving up one's dreams was thought-provoking. Is it an American ideal to give up one's dreams? I'm not sure I know - America was founded by individuals and for individual rights, however, the Founders also gave up their dreams to achieve it. (And people who claim they were just rich white men trying to protect their property are flat out wrong - most of those men who were trying to protect their property lost it, along with their families, in the war). While it may or may not be an American ideal to give up my own dreams, it is however, a Christian ideal. As Oswald Chambers puts it, my priorities as a Christian are first to God, second to God, and third to God. There isn't any room in a Christian walk for personal ambition. This isn't to say that one can't be a success in business and still be a Christian, but I sincerely believe one should dedicate one's profession, and its fruits, to serving God. Aunt Bea's statement that there is a hero in all of us sounds good, but for the Christian, that hero is Christ, who redeemed us. "You are my Lord, my goodness is nothing apart from You" (Ps 16:2). That's not to say that people can't do good things from man's point of view, but from God's point of view, our best works are just filthy rags.

No thoughts on Dr. Octopus in particular, except that he was done real well. I wondered how they would do that and the special effects were entertaining there.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 11:29 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2004

More reviews of Fahrenheit 9/11

from Christianity Today

from Matt Labash, for The Weekly Standard. He admits to an anti-war viewpoint, and still thinks the movie is an "offal-laden piece of junk."

and Jonah Goldberg for National Review Online. He hasn't seen it (nor does he plan to), but doesn't think he needs to; he compares it to not needing to see a p**n movie to know it's worthless.

and from Susan b. at Lilac Rose, who links to several others, including Fahrenheit Fact, a blog dedicated to fisking Moore's rant.

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 09:30 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2004

TPOPC bloopers

Hilarious! (link found at Kathy Shaidle's blog, Relapsed Catholic)

Posted by Joel Fuhrmann at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

February 29, 2004

Movie Reviews

I saw The Passion of the Christ last week, on Ash Wednesday. I held off on blogging because of my Lent commitment, but here are my thoughts finally.

The movie was very moving, driving it home to me the seriousness and gravity of what Jesus did for me. I agree with Joshus Claybourn's review which emphasizes Jesus' isolation from His father, which I believe was the ultimate, and invisible to us, punishment. There was a point during the first trial scene where I thought that the Jewish leaders were made to look pretty mean and vengeful, but just a little later the Romans were made to look even worse. The opening scene where Satan is tempting Jesus, telling Him He can't take on the sins of mankind, drive the point home that Jesus is no mere martyr, that it is God's will that He do this - provide His life as a sacrifice for the world, including me, and you the reader.

During the time when He was being nailed to the cross, the thought came through my head "they're treating Him just like an animal", and it hit me - that's what He is - the Lamb of God. We all like to think of lambs being cute, cuddly animals (following Mary to school as bedtime stories say), but at Passover, that lamb (which lived in the house for a while - imagine the reaction of the children!) was killed and eaten. Just as the blood of the lamb provided for the Jews to escape from Egypt, Jesus' blood provides for our escape from sin and its accompanying judgment.

Now, there is another movie out there which has received very little attention, and it deserves it. The Gospel of John. This movie is a word-for-word (based on the Contemporary English Version) rendition of the gospel of John, with Christopher Plummer as narrator, and Henry Ian Cusick as Jesus.

While both movies are excellent productions in their own right, I actually enjoyed The Gospel of John more as it covered the entire gospel. It was very moving to see Jesus' signs portrayed on film: turning the water to wine, healing the nobleman's son, the man at the pool of Bethesda, feeding the five thousand, walking on water, healing the man born blind (my favorite chapter of John), the raising of Lazarus, and of course the Resurrection and all of Jesus' appearances to His disciples after He had risen from the dead. Chapters 13-17 of the book, as portrayed in the movie are very moving as Jesus teaches His disciples in the Upper Room, then on the rooftop under the stars, then walking through a vineyard (chapter 15), and finally in the Garden of Gethsamane where Judas betrays Him.

My major complaint about the movie is the version of the Bible they chose to use. While I am not a KJV-only advocate, I also think that a more literal version could have served the message of the gospel better. In my opinion, the CEV, being a less-literal dynamic-rendering, uses 'softer' words than a more literal rendering, such as what the New King James or the New American Standard would provide. Regardless, seeing the words of the gospel acted out in such a way that the viewer could imagine seeing the original event was very meaningful. Andrew running to tell Peter "We have found the Messiah!", the Samaritan woman's excitement at Jesus' telling her "all things she ever did", the nobleman's love for his son, the relief of the man afflicted for thirty-eight years, the stress and thankfulness of the woman caught in adultery followed by Jesus' words "go, and do not sin again", and a very moving chapter 10, where Jesus tells how He is the good shepherd, right in front of a actual sheepfold where the sheep are actually led out and we see how dedicated sheep really are to their shepherd. Children are prominent within His audience.

Some minor complaints: I thought the treatment of Jesus' trial and crucifixion were treated a bit more gently than what really happened (a lot less violent than Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ). One scene I did not like was when Mary Magdalene first saw Jesus after His resurrection. In order to emphasis that she thought she was the gardener, Jesus was shown stooping down, as though He were planting a bush or a tree, almost as if He were deliberately hiding His face from her. That was not at all the way I picture the scene when visualizing the text. All in all though, a very good, uplifting, and educational movie.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)

December 17, 2003

Return of the King

I took the day off from work today (except for a couple of hours this morning to catch up on something) to see The Return of the King. Awesome, exciting, edge-of-the-seat action. I'm not going to say anymore yet, give people time to see it. Is there anyone who's not going to see it today? What are you waiting for?! Ok, some people may not want to see a 3-1/4 hour movie on a worknight or during finals, but I'm sure everyone who wants to will see it before Sunday.

I got The Two Towers Extended Edition DVD for Christmas, and true to my word, will not be opening it until Christmas. The excitement of eager anticipation for Christmas returns!

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 06:40 PM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2003

Amy and I saw The

Amy and I saw The Two Towers again today. I'm going to assume that everybody who wanted to see it already has (you've also read the book), so I'm going to jump right in with my thoughts on it.

The movie is magnificent. It's been too long since I've read the book to know how consistent it is with the original (I will soon remedy that), so I have no complaints about plot changes. Though much of the movie is about war, I don't see the movie as glorifying war, I see it more as recognizing, as Sam said at the end, "there is good in this world, and it's something worth fighting for". I was moved by the scenes of the women and children of Rohan who would be killed if the men of arms failed in their defense of Helms Deep. It served to emphasize that they were not just fighting for their freedom or for a plot of land; they were fighting for their existence. If they had failed, Rohan would simply cease to exist altogether.

I was looking for some of the script to remember in this second viewing, just as Gandalf's line (my favorite scene) from Fellowship Of The Ring: "All we have to decide is what to do with the time we are given.". My favorite, next to Sam quoted above, is when Eowyn says "the women of this country learned long ago that those who do not bear swords may still die upon them." (a good slogan for the Second Amendment Sisters, with whom I agree).

The portrayal of Gollum (Smeagol) was excellent. The moral fight he had with his evil nature was important to see, given his corruption by the ring. I'm having trouble understanding, from the movie alone, what his motivation was for helping Frodo find the way into Mordor. Maybe a detail will emerge on the upcoming DVD, as was done for Fellowship Of The Ring.

My only gripe about the movie, maybe even Tolkien's original work, is that it seems to romanticize medieval life, and to demonize industry. When Saruman is shown building his army of Uruk-Hai, it seems to be presented as an indictment against science and technology, as if these were, by themselves, evil. I don't share that view. I think that science and technology have done much for good. We are much better off for having left our medieval history behind us. There is certainly the capacity for the moral abuse of technology, but that is a symptom of our sin nature, not of our intelligence.

Posted by joelfuhrmann at 07:05 PM | Comments (0)