The Chronicles of Ennui Continue…

Jeff VanderMeer • June 2nd, 2008 @ 4:07 pm • Evil Monkey

Someone else is going to have to see Prince Caspian for me and report back. I’m still too scarred from going to see the first film, The Chronicles of Narnia, about which Evil and I had the following conversation back in 2005.

Evil Monkey:
Did you see Chronicles of Narnia yet?

Jeff:
Yes, I did.

Evil Monkey:
I saw it with my sweatheart, Ape-Gone-Wild.

Jeff:
Don’t you mean sweetheart?

Evil Monkey:
No.

Jeff:
Let’s change the subject, then.

Evil Monkey:
So what did you think of the movie?

Jeff:
Awful.

Evil Monkey:
Awful?! I loved it!

Jeff:
The wolves looked fake. The beavers in armor were retarded. The witch’s command-and-control is a mess.

Evil Monkey:
It was the best bad movie of all time!

Jeff:
It was…creepy…

Evil Monkey:
Wasn’t that the greatest?! You had the creepy scenes with the faun and the little girl, with some kind of weird subtext in them.

Jeff:
Followed up by the creepy subtext of the witch and the kid who eats the marzipan.

Evil Monkey:
What was his name?

Jeff:
I can’t remember. They all kind of blurred together into one uber ennui.

Evil Monkey:
What I can’t remember is how faithful to the book the movie was.

Jeff:
I can’t either. Those Blitz scenes at the beginning, though…wow.

Evil Monkey:
I know! Exciting!

Jeff:
Fakey-looking. Not to mention, I think they’d all have been in a bomb shelter well before the bombs started dropping.

Evil Monkey:
But that wouldn’t be as dramatic. Ape-Gone-Wild loved that part.

Jeff:
She would.

Evil Monkey:
Don’t be dissin’ my sweatheart!

Jeff:
Anyway, I think the whole movie was summed up by the stupid scene where they’re sitting around with it raining outside being bored.

Evil Monkey:
Great dialogue for a bad movie right there!

Jeff:
Yes. “I’m bored. I’m going to whine about it.”

Evil Monkey:
“Now let me play a word game with the dictionary.”

Jeff:
“But that’s boring. I want to go outside.”

Evil Monkey:
“It’s raining. You can’t go outside.”

Jeff:
“But I want to go outside. I’m bored.”

Evil Monkey:
“Oh, but you can’t.”

Jeff:
“Well, then, fuck all of you–I’m going to sulk.”

Evil Monkey:
“Hey, wait–let’s play hide-and-seek and find Narnia!”

Jeff:
“That sounds like lots of fun! Yes, let’s.”

Evil Monkey:
“Okay, cardboard brother, cardboard sister–I’m up for that! Just don’t get that candle near me or I’ll go up in flames so fast it’ll make your head spin.”

Jeff:
That about sums it up.

Evil Monkey:
What about the closet, eh? Pretty swanky. All that carving. Very proper!

Jeff:
Yeah. It was all jazzed up. And at first they’ve got it hidden beneath some white sheet. Very prophetic.

Evil Monkey:
Very Shroud of Turin!

Jeff:
Didn’t the little girl freak you out? I think she had a lazy eye or something.

Evil Monkey:
She was pretty scary. I kept expecting her head to rotate 360 degrees and green vomit to come spewing out of her mouth. But, it never happened. I was waaay disappointed.

Jeff:
I kept expecting Swinton to step out of her witch’s costume and say, “I’m not going to mouth another word of this shitty dialogue.”

Evil Monkey:
I kept hoping the wolves would catch the children, but they never did.

Jeff:
I kept expecting the children to freeze, like when they got dropped in the river for a long period of time. But they never did. They would have made nice ice sculptures. And it would have saved the witch from having to do it.

Evil Monkey:
I kept expecting the beavers to get beyond traditional 1950s husband-wife gender roles, but they never did. Why does the female beaver keep worrying about how her hair looks? Her whole body is “hair.”

Jeff:
I kept expecting consistency in which animals were naked and which were clothed, but it never happened.

Evil Monkey:
I kept expecting the battles with the computer generated animals fighting other computer generated animals to be more emotionally draining to me, but that never happened.

Jeff:
I kept expecting to care more about the characters, but I never did.

Evil Monkey:
I kept expecting things to make more sense, but, luckily, they never did!

Jeff:
I kept expecting to see $100 million on the screen, but I never did.

Evil Monkey:
I wanted them to throw in a rhinoceros, a white tiger, and a porcupine–and they did! They did!

Jeff:
Yeah. I never really got the ecosystem situation in Narnia. I mean, you got your fauns. You got your gryphons. Then you got your beavers and your wolves and your foxes. But then you gots yer rhinoceros, you gots yer cheetahs, you gots yer…well, whatever.

Evil Monkey:
Maybe it was just too complicated a system for us to see it entirely. Do you want my take on it?

Jeff:
Sure.

Evil Monkey:
Okay. At your ground level, you have your trees, your bees, your other insects. These are all eaten by the beavers and the foxes. The beavers and the foxes are eaten by the rhinoceroses and the cheetahs and the tigers and whatnot. Then, above that, you got your magical animals like the fauns and the leprechauns and the santa-clauses and the gryphon. They eat the cheetahs and the tigers. And Aslan eats them all! It’s the cycle of life!

Jeff:
That reminds me. Santa Claus is in the movie. I think I must have edited him out of my reading of the book or something.

Evil Monkey:
That was Santa Claus? I thought it was just an overweight diabetic pervert with a sleigh.

Jeff:
It was Santa Claus.

Evil Monkey:
Does that mean the Easter Bunny comes out in the spring in Narnia?

Jeff:
I dunno. But Santa Claus was seriously creeping me out.

Evil Monkey:
I know. He looked a little like I imagine Leather Face in Texas Chainsaw Massacre would look if he wasn’t wearing a mask.

Jeff:
And then the poor beavers get screwed! Santa Claus leaves presents for the kids and nothing for the beavers. Poor, poor beavers.

Evil Monkey:
That wasn’t the problem, I didn’t think. The problem was those presents. Jesus Christ! What about a train set or, I dunno, a nice doll or toy soldier. Instead he gives ‘em elixirs, bows-and-arrows, and sword.

Jeff:
Yeah, and the bows-and-arrows are the best part, cause it seems like the Magic of Narnia creates a special scene later in the movie just so that the arrows can be used. Cute!

Evil Monkey:
Oh, but the best part were the costumes for the witch’s minions. I had no idea there were so many costumes and extras left over from Lord of the Rings. I’m surprised they didn’t thank Peter Jackson for his largesse in the movie’s credits.

Jeff:
It was like a bargain sale at a flea market. Orcs for sale! Get your hideously malformed, crappily clad orcs right here! Perfect for a Narnia movie.

Evil Monkey:
Perfect! And I loved that the witch’s minions were so incompetent.

Jeff:
I cried when that guy who played the oompa loompa in Charlie and the Sugar Factory got killed. I thought, “Why did they kill the oompa loompa?”

Evil Monkey:
I loved that an oompa loompa was the main advisor and aide to the Ice Queen witch. Such a wealth of knowledge. But the best part of that–and it was Ape-Gone-Wild who brought this to my attention–

Jeff:
I can’t wait.

Evil Monkey:
This sets up a tie-in between the Narnia and Charlie and the Sugar Factory universes. It’ll be like Alien versus Predator, only better.

Jeff:
I thought the oompa loompa and the rest of the witch’s minions were pretty incompetent. I don’t know if I’d want to see a tie-in movie based around that.

Evil Monkey:
Oh, but that was some of the best physical comedy I’ve seen in a long, long time! I mean, the scene where the wolf leads the centaurs to where the witch has the dumb sullen Son of Adam tied to a tree like it’s a bugs bunny cartoon and then they rescue him in the midst of the whole witch army, which apparently doesn’t have sentinels or guards or, really, much discipline at all…that was priceless.

Jeff:
Yeah, those wolves were pretty useless, too.

Evil Monkey:
Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. The wolves are archetypal.

Jeff:
In what sense?

Evil Monkey:
You know–archetypal. The Evil Keystone Kops. Must be, because that sort of thing shows up in all the fantasy movies.

Jeff:
Like?

Evil Monkey:
You got your Black Riders in the Lord of the Rings, right?

Jeff:
Yes.

Evil Monkey:
And in Harry Potter, you’ve got those faceless, robed minions of Voldemort. And in Narnia, it’s the wolves. You always have to have seven to nine black-robed or furred minions that can’t do the job to save their lives. I find them to be the most sympathetic characters in these movies.

Jeff:
How so?

Evil Monkey:
I feel sorry for them. They’ve got a job to do, right? And they just can’t do it. They try really hard, but time and space work differently for them than for the people they’re chasing. For example, time and again in the Narnia movie, the wolves seem like they’re right behind the kids, but there’s actually collapsed worm holes or white dwarf suns or something between them and the kids–some kind of singularity or fold in time, because they never catch up. There’s this horrible flaw in them that they can run and run but never get there. Really, if you think about it, the minions are always the 9-5 rotters who have a bad-tempered boss and can never get ahead. I think that’s kind of sad.

Jeff:
If you say so. By the way, do you think you’ve gotten enough of a tan? I think the neighbors are looking at us with binoculars now and even though the sun’s out, it’s a bit cold out here.

Evil Monkey:
I just have to stay out a little longer, to get rid of that underlying tan line on the left there. Ape-Gone-Wild hates my tan lines.

Jeff:
Okay. Just a little longer…I’m sick of holding this reflecting plate for you.

Evil Monkey:
…what did you think about Aslan?

Jeff:
Looked just like a lion.

Evil Monkey:
That’s all you have to say about the mighty cat?

Jeff:
Oh yeah–he had bad dialogue, too.

Evil Monkey:
But he’s Aslan, lord of the animals. He makes all these sacrifices–

Jeff:
Not much of a sacrifice.

Evil Monkey:
Huh?

Jeff:
Well, think about it. Aslan, from what he says after his resurrection, knows he’s going to be coming back from the dead. Sure, he gets tortured a little, but he can steel himself mentally against that cause he knows he’s coming back. Not much of a sacrifice.

Evil Monkey:
I guess you have a point. But it’s still sad, isn’t it?

Jeff:
What’s sad is that Aslan has Liam Neeson’s voice. And that he changes sizes depending on which kid he’s juxtaposed against.

Evil Monkey:
Maybe this is just my intrinsic awe of any kind of lion coming out.

Jeff:
And it was never clear to me why Aslan had been gone for a hundred years. Or where the hell his army came from, or why the centaurs were so butt-ugly.

Evil Monkey:
Some things are just not meant to be known.

Jeff:
But, mainly, if I were a fundamentalist Christian, I’d want my money back, because it’s all pagan beyond belief, including what Aslan believes in. And because, in the movie at least, as I said, Aslan knows he’s going to come back, so it makes a compelling argument for Jesus’ “sacrifice” to be really pretty pathetic.

Evil Monkey:
I hadn’t thought about that. I have to admit my attention was on Ape-Gone-Wild during parts of the movie.

Jeff:
And I kept thinking about the poor beavers.

Evil Monkey:
Yeah–they sacrificed a lot.

Jeff:
And at the end, what’s it all for? So Aslan can install a monarchy to replace a dictatorship. So instead of one white witch to deal with, the beavers and other animals have four kids to rule them. Woo-hoo! If I were the beavers and other animals, I would have kicked out the witch, the kids, and Aslan, and just told them all to stay out, for good.

Evil Monkey:
Boy, you’re harsh. It’s just a fairy tale.

Jeff:
And another thing.

Evil Monkey:
Yeah?

Jeff:
The witch is a terrible sculptor. Every time she turns something to stone, it looks 80 percent uglier than it did before, and that’s saying something in the case of some of those fauns and centaurs.

Evil Monkey:
I think it was interpretative sculpture, which means she was actually a really good sculptor.

Jeff:
Yeah, well, I think I preferred the version of Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in The Young Ones, with Vivian encountering the witch.

Evil Monkey:
Fair enough. Okay. I think I’ve gotten enough sun. Let’s go inside. I gotta call Ape-Gone-Wild and see if she wants to go to that ice skating thing at the Civic Center tomorrow.

Jeff:
They’ll let you in to that?

Evil Monkey:
I’ll be wearing my faun costume.

Jeff:
Good on ya.

11 Responses to “The Chronicles of Ennui Continue…”

  1. Zak says:

    Yeah, even as a kid I didn’t have much patience for Narnia’s postage stamp-sized Pedant Free Zone.

    I didn’t grow extra patience for it as an adult, so the first movie completely lost me whenever the good guys were on screen. It looks like Narnia 2 is going to do a good enough job of starving the franchise of cash that we don’t have to worry about the rest of them.

    Hurrah!

  2. Chris Billett says:

    Narnia makes me think of boring Sunday evening tea and having to go back to school in the morning. It is not a happy association. I also remember not really getting it, nor liking it, but feeling like I had to watch it because it was Good Christian Tele.

    “Well, think about it. Aslan, from what he says after his resurrection, knows he’s going to be coming back from the dead. Sure, he gets tortured a little, but he can steel himself mentally against that cause he knows he’s coming back. Not much of a sacrifice.”

    Wait a minute, Jesus’ death doesn’t really hold up to much in light of that. Goddamit Jeff, you’re onto something! (Also? I think Jesus did claim to know in advance he was lulling Satan into a false sense of security with the whole crucification thing, didn’t he? Or have I been reading too much Gore Vidal this week…

  3. Steve Buchheit says:

    More Evil Monkey Movie Reviews! And “uber ennui” is so going to be my next rock band’s name. The poor beavers, they just never seems to catch a break.

  4. Transfiguring Roar says:

    I found the first to be a dismal effort also, but I would still like to see The Magicians Nephew, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And, yes, I am a bit of a masochist.

  5. JesseFord says:

    Was it just me, or was the actor who played Lord Sopesian the same guy who played El Guapo from the Three Amigos?

    But yeah, what a shitty movie. My seven year old son loved it, but what can you do. I just wish those English kids had some kind of I don’t know, charisma?

  6. David J. Williams says:

    This is hysterical. Not to mention a 1000% better than the movie.

  7. Kater says:

    Prince Caspian is more heavy-handed with the Christianity than the books were. The movie made me cringe on occasion, and the books never did. (Then again, I was a kid when I read them. )

    Still, I think the fact that the actor who plays Caspian is SMOKING HAWT makes up for it.

  8. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Kater: Alas, the actor who plays Caspian does nothing for me.

    Somehow I never thought you would say SMOKING HAWT. But, then, I didn’t know you raised KICK ARSE chickens, either!
    Jeff

  9. Nadine says:

    I have to agree with Kater up there. Ben Barnes makes the crap worthwhile.

  10. R. Schuyler Devin says:

    This was great for a good, long laugh. Thanks for posting it again, I enjoyed it immensely.

  11. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Hey, thanks. I’ve got a much bigger audience than on the old blog, so I figured I wouldn’t bore too many people.
    Jeff

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