Friday, January 28, 2011

Matinee (1993)


Starring John Goodman
Directed by Joe Dante
Rated PG

The Story:
Gene and his little brother live with their mother on the military base in Key West, Florida while their father is deployed in the Navy in 1962 as the terror of the Cuban Missile Crisis begins to unfold. At the same time film producer Lawrence Woolsey (John Goodman) comes to town to promote his new monster movie “MANT!” Tension as the movies highly anticipated premiere approaches and development in Cuba grows grimmer as Gene learns about fear, both real and make-believe.

My Thoughts:
The film as a whole is a love letter to popular culture of mid century America. We’re reminded early on about how different ideas and attitudes of that era were, such as the importance of red meat in every meal and the imminent threat of nuclear Armageddon. This look back at the era is interrupted by the introduction of the waifish Sandra. She is wise beyond her years as she recognizes the futility of the school’s nuclear drills is also a crusader for social justice of the period. It feels like a bit of a jerk out of this reality of the decade to be given a politically correct textbook definition of the time rather than let the audience see things play out and experience the era for ourselves.

Gene’s story is hindered by the arrival of Woolsey, a film producer in the vein of William Castle, making movies into funhouse shows with gimmicks such as “Atomo-Vision” and “Rumble-Rama”. While we see his dishonest dealings used to promote his new movie, his encounter with Gene reveals just how passionate he is about storytelling and understanding the nature of fear serving as a psedo-mentor to the trouble teen. John Goodman steals the show with this performance.

Everything comes together in the third act at the première of “MANT!”, were all the movie’s wide array of characters all happen to meet and their personal demons begin to intersect not only with one another but with the plot of the “MANT!” itself. I can’t really say much more without giving the ending away expect that Robert Picardo hams it up his role as the neurotic theater manager. It is easily the film’s funniest part, but it feels a bit distracting from the big picture at times. The climax may seem a little goofy to some viewers, but it seemed so in tune with the kitsch charm that I was grinning from ear to ear.

I’d like to briefly compare “Matinee”’s structure with another film, “The Sandlot”. Both features were set in 1962, and were released in theaters within mere months of one another. In “The Sandlot” we follow a boy named Smalls, who like Gene in “Matinee” is new to town, friendless and without a father. While we spend “The Sandlot” following Smalls, the movie isn’t about Smalls so much as it is Benny’s Story told from Smalls’ point of view. “The Sandlot” was about both nostalgia and people, which is why I think it has become such a beloved classic. “Maintee” conversely is about culture and ideas. Gene is there to learn from Woolsey, whom Director Joe Dante uses a mouthpiece for to explain his own passion for movies and moviemaking. It is well written, but in execution feels unbalanced in certain places.

The film has all the elements of a classic coming of age movie. It is flawed, but funny and made with lots of affection and attention to detail.

Final Score:
4 out of 5. Matinee is a Full Price.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Killers (2010)

Starring Katherine Heigl, Ashton Kutcher, Tom Selleck
Directed by Robert Luketic
Rated PG-13; Violence.

The Story:
Jen discovers that her husband Spencer is a former CIA assassin, and now the two of them are on the run from other assassins that are trying to kill them.

My Thoughts:
The film opens with Jen (Katherine Heigl) at center stage in between her parents (Catherine O’Hara and Tom Selleck) were they explain to her how she had a bad breakup and needs to get away from it all on a vacation to Nice, France. This scene establishes three things; First, that Katherine Heigl is the focus of this movie, and everything else is superficial. Second, that Mom is an alcoholic, and this is played for laughs. Its kind of funny the first time, but with repetition it gets old fast. Third, this is one of the worst ways to start a movie. Jen’s mom explains things to her that she already knows, and worse describes Jen’s character, rather than letting us see her act out her character and grow to know her. It feels like the director or the screenwriter just checked the box for establishing characters and decided to move on. This scene is nothing more than a teaser before the opening credits and the movie would have been stronger without it, but they need pad out the movie’s 95 minute runtime somehow.

Once the trio gets to France, Jen meets the shirtless Spencer (Ashton Kutcher), who we the audience learn is a CIA assassin. This is established by having him climb a rope, knock out an extra and plant a bomb which makes an explosion that would be laughed out of a SyFy Channel original movie. None of this really helps build his character outside of his role. He tells Jen that he is a business consultant who travels all the time he just wants to have a have a normal life and settle down. They have a clichéd “falling in love” montage and three years later they’re married and have a house in the wealthiest suburban community in American and have the annoying characters from every 1960s sitcom as neighbors. Also Spencer’s last name is “Aimes”, and Jen’s maiden name is “Kornfeld”, as in “Aim” and “Cornfed”, just in case you wanted a sampling of the lack of subtly this movie sets for its sense of humor.

After that long, agonizingly cheesy opening, the plot finally starts when one of their neighbors turns out to be an assassin and tries to kill Spencer, shocking Jen, who after three years of marriage never bothered asking any simple questions about his past. Also it seems Spencer didn’t make any effort to formally retire from the CIA. The basic gist from here on out is that all of their neighbors are trained killers and are suddenly after them. Rather than say, traveling to exotic location like say France, were the movie started and have a elaborate thriller involving trying to figure out who would want Spencer dead, they drive around their quaint neighborhood and argue trivial marriage matters that drown out the big picture of their situation and are supposed to be funny. This is punctuated by one of their neighbors jumping out of the woodwork with an oversized weapon every now and then. Much like the “Mom is an alcoholic” gag, its funny the first time, but with overuse it is no longer shocking, surprising or suspenseful. The conclusion of the film is one big insulting punchline, especially when it sinks in how avoidable all the events that occurred could have been.

One the most unforgivable aspects of the film is Ashton Kutcher’s performance. He is bored and passionless throughout the movie. Halfway through when he reminds us that he’s a trained assassin, it really comes as a surprise because he is just that dull and unappealing. While watching this, I couldn’t help but flashback to the 1994 film “True Lies”, with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis. The plot is similar; a suburban husband, leading a double life as a government agent. While not a great movie, “True Lies” has fun fast paced action, comedy and most importantly characters we care about. “True Lies”, starts by showing Arnold as a James Bond style action hero with the fast guns, gadgets and post kill puns, its pure popcorn fun. We see his double life; his devotion to his job is contrasted with his love for his wife and daughter. He shows remorse at lying to his wife about were he is, remorse that he is missing out on his daughter’s budding teen years and the constant guilt of his elaborate cover stories to explain his behavior. When Ashton Kutcher acts suspicious when he thinks danger is afoot and Katherine Heigl calls him out on it, he shrugs and says “I’m fine”, when its obvious to everyone with a functioning brain that he’s not fine. When a 700 pound slab of walking beef is out-acting you, well, that just speaks for itself.

Bottom Line, it’s a juvenile comedy aimed at adults. The characters are dull and lifeless, with traits telegraphed to us rather than shown. The suburban setting and its situations are silly bordering on insulting, and even at less than two hours it feels long and droning.

Final Score:
1 out of 5. Joyless.

The Social Network (2010)

Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield, Justin Timberlake
Directed by David Fincher
Rated PG-13: Drug, Alcohol Use, Language and Some Sexual Situations.
The film chronicles the rise of Mark Zuckerburg, founder of the social network website Facebook, and how it made him the world’s youngest billionaire, but also how it alienated him from his friends and loved ones.
The dialogue is this movie is very fast paced and abundant. I cannot stress this point enough. If you watch this movie without the subtitles on, chances are you will miss a lot of important information. This isn’t something to be viewed as a negative stigma, just a sign of how densely the film’s material is packaged. By the end of the movie, my brain felt like it had run a marathon with it’s relentless pace and unpredictable events layered with suspense and sprinkled lightly with dry wit.
Jesse Eisenberg plays Mark Zuckerberg, our lead, a brilliant, and ambiguously autistic computer programmer, though gradually we are introduced to a sea of characters involved in this Internet enterprise. Andrew Garfield as the business focused Eduardo is easily the most sympathetic character, while Justin Timberlake’s performance as the wily Shawn Parker, is a phenomenal breakout role. Each addition adds a new piece to the drama and it is easy to get caught up in the ever-expanding series of events.
The film has many parallels to the classic “Citizen Kane”, mainly use of a nonlinear narrative told through flashbacks. But probably most recognizable is in the film’s conclusion, when Mark finds himself lonely at the top, alienated from all his friends and looking to reconnect with his lost love.
Captivating in its composure, “The Social Network” is a film that actively encourages its audience to think, and consider the actions of the characters that can leave each viewer with a completely different perspective of the protagonist. 
Final Score:
 5 out of 5. Intense.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Despicable Me (2010)

Voices of Steve Carrell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand
Directed by Pierre Coffin and Chris Renaud
Family/ Comedy
Rated PG


Super Criminal Gru, seeks to become the greatest villain of all time by stealing the moon. He concocts a rather complex plan involving adopted three orphan girls in order to steal the necessary equipment from his nemesis, Vector, who has upstaged him at every turn. However, things go awry when Gru begins to bond with his new family.


Gru has a lot of Steve Carrell’s usual mannerisms his performance. While he does try to disguise it with a Hollywood foreign accent, a lot of elements he is known for come to the surface. When he talked about getting older or having to lay off some of his walking cheese puff minions, I really felt like I was watching an episode of “The Office”. This wasn’t necessary a bad thing, it was just something I found a little distracting from the actual story. I can understand that with this being Illumination Animation’s first feature film, that they tried to capitalize on as much star power as they could afford.

On the other end of the casting spectrum we have Julie Andrews as Gru’s mother who makes only a few guttural noises in her limited amount of screen time. I just couldn’t help but think what a waste of potential that was. They managed to get Mary Poppins herself to be in their children’s movie, and did absolutely nothing with her. All the while I just couldn’t help but think of how ironic it would be if instead they had cast her as the intimidating mistress who runs the orphanage. I just think it would have been fun to cast against type like that.

One of the things that are hard to understand about this movie is the setting. Our two leads, Gru and Vector are supervillains who steal landmarks Carmen Sandiego style, and are both financed by an evil bank and are part of society of bad guys. There don’t seem to be any superheroes or secret agents to oppose these threats. The people we do see react don’t really seem to do anything. This is rather unfortunate as one of the movie’s funnier moments was at the beginning when we see the nations of the world going ludicrous precautions to safeguard their landmarks. I kind of wish there had been more scenes like this.

It is a bit hard to understand this setting when there really have any “rules” laid out. There’s a bit of contrived coincidence that the plot hinges on, were Gru builds a rocketship out of scrap parts to fly to the moon, so that he can steal it with his shrink ray. It just so happens that Gru can only launch his rocket on the same day as his new daughter’s dance recital. If you can build a rocket out of spare parts and use it to fly to the moon, and zap it with a shrink ray to hold it for ransom, then I’m sure you can launch on a day when you aren’t otherwise committed. The senile Dr. Nefario, has suddenly regained lucidity to exposit this bit, delivers this plot point. I don’t understand who this guy is that he can tell Gru what to do. Isn’t it Gru’s plan after all? Besides, the good doctor didn’t speak up that we know of during any of Gru’s other failings, so why now all of the sudden? There is no reason, other than because the plot depends upon it.

The animation is excellent. I am eager to see what comes out of Illumination Animation’s following films. The plot is contrived, and the situations with the kids fairly predictable. However, it is peppered with some good comedic moments but they are rather few and far between.

Final Score:

3 out of 5. Commonplace.

Ramona and Beezus (2010)

Starring Joey King, Selena Gomez
Directed by Elizabeth Allen
Rated G
Based on the books by Beverly Cleary

Ramona Quimby is an adventurous third grader who offer a unique perspective on the events around her and her family, such as her father losing his job, her Aunt Bee's budding love life and antics with her older sister Beezus.

When I first heard about this movie I thought it would pitch the source material out the window and just try and be over the top cutesy. The proceeding trailer for “Marmaduke”, a movie which suffered such a fate, wasn’t exactly encouraging. Marketing is something that can really mess with your expectations. Selena Gomez’s size on the poster, fame from the Disney Channel and original song on the soundtrack made me think that she was the star and that the movie is about sibling rivalry. No, the title is truth in advertising as Joey King as Ramona is this film’s main attraction. 

The first thing I noticed is that the movie isn’t an adaptation of any one book in the series but rather it just cherry picks bits of stories from each of the books. Which I suppose makes sense, after all the books were really just a string of vignettes strung together by a thin overarching plot and the movie does the same thing. Despite how many plot threads the movie has, the script does a very good job if introducing a lot of ideas and then quickly tying the knot so that the story isn’t too cumbersome.

The most glaring problem for me was that none of the 9-year old characters talk like they’re 9 years old. Ramona's independence seems more in line with a 13-year old than her actual age. It’s a bit hard to believe that Ramona can’t spell “delicious”, when she uses words like “individual” or “embellishment” on a regular basis. In something like “Peanuts” or “Calvin and Hobbes” the fact that children speak with such articulate vocabulary is because it is meant to be satires of adult behaviors, but in a world that tries to pass off as a real life their dialogue sounds unnatural and feels like a punch in the stomach every other time one of these kids opens their mouth.

Selena Gomez does a good job in role as Romana’s big sister Beezus, but her role in this movie really just feels like window dressing. In fact, I could say that for a lot of people. This movie has a lot of periphery characters each with their own subplots that we cut away from Ramona to follow every here and now. It can be a little distracting, but it helps to establish a world bigger than just our lead character and gives the events that much more dimension to their reality.

Because of the way the plot picks and chooses from various sources and introduces loads and loads of characters the story has a lot of peaks and valleys to it, but in the end, I think it balances out well. Even if you know the books well, there is genuine interest in wondering how it will work out in the end.

The movie has a tightly executed script and surprisingly good acting. While it can waffle at times between clichés and cuteness, it comes out all right by the end. If they could have tweaked the children’s dialogue it might gotten a higher score. Bottom line, it serves as a good example of family entertainment that doesn’t try stooping to the lowest common denominator.

Final Score:
3 1/2 out of 5. A cut above the rest.

The Blob (1988)

Starring Kevin Dillon, Shawnee Smith
Directed by Chuck Russell
Rated R

The movie opens with a decent from space to shots of a small, empty town in Anywhere, USA. There is foreboding music in the background to help establish the dark tone.

Aside of a few details, the story is the same as the original 1958 “The Blob”, with a Blob monster falling from outer space, consuming unsuspecting victims and its up to two teenagers to try and stop it from destroying the town.

The best thing about this film is how efficiently it uses the first act to establish its characters. Each person has a little bit of dimension and development so that they all seem important to a certain degree and results in all the more surprise and shock when a character becomes a victim of the Blob. It really helps the audience to care about trying to stop the situation and really invests us in the story more so than your average monster run amok type of movie.

Instead of just being regular teenagers, our lead characters are Brian is a juvenile delinquent with authority issues and Meg, a goody-good cheerleader from a wealthy family. They have decent chemistry but nowhere near as much charisma as Steve McQueen and company in the original.

The Blob effects in this version are decent. It should really go without saying that this is a bloodier and gorier Blob, so we get to see it tear apart and digest its victims, getting redder as it eats more, colored by the blood. While this Blob has more onscreen kills than the original, the actual deaths we do see are so brief that the shock sticks to our subconscious and comes across as more terrifying in our minds.

The problem is that the menace of the Blob is undermined by the introduction of a human antagonist, the corrupt government scientist Dr. Meaddows. While it first he comes across as an eleventh hour savior to stop the monster, his wooden and exposition heavy dialogue really give him away. He brings the story to a halt as he explains that the Blob is a biological weapon that he has designed and how he’d rather let the entire town be destroyed that have his experiment be lost. He’s just relishes in what a two dimensional bad guy he is and it really upstages the motiveless Blob. He death by the creature he created is far more satisfactory to the viewer than the destruction of the Blob in the end.

Speaking of which, the climax occurs when a “Jaws”-style tank explosion. Meg suddenly starts acting like Sigourney Weaver from “Aliens” and spewing typical monster killing dialogue firing multiple shots from an assault rifle trying to hit the Liquid Nitrogen tank that will freeze the Blob.

That would be the end of it, but right before the end we see a demented priest go on and on about how the Blob is a sign of the end of the world in a manner that’s beyond cliché.

A very well written script up until the third act, were we are sidelined by clichés. The Blob effects are good, but are starting to show their age. It is well made, but nowhere near as fun or as memorable as the original.

Final Score:

3 out of 5. Effective Horror.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Tangled (2010)

Voices of Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy
Directed by Nathan Greno and Byron Howard
Rated PG

The road to “Tangled” has had just about as many twists and split ends as seventy feet of hair would. But for me, it is the end of a long, yet inevitable journey. The first time I heard about this movie was four years ago when I was studying for my degree in art history. While researching Eighteenth Century French Rococo paintings, I discovered an interview with Disney animator Glen Keane who was attracted to the lush romantic tone of this particular style of art and wanted to use computer animation to create the look of a moving painting.

I’ve always admired Disney Animation’s appreciation for art by referencing classic works in their movies. Whether it be Ariel admiring “Magdalene with the Smoking Flame” in “The Little Mermaid”, or homage to N.C. Wyeth’s paintings in “Treasure Planet”, or even the bizarre appearance of “American Gothic” in “Mulan”. So I made a mental note to follow the development of this feature, and it certainly took some interesting turns. After Glen Keane suffered heart conditions that forced him to distance himself from the project, it was handed off to quite a number of other people who all wanted to do something different from it. There was a phase in which is was called “Unbraided”, and tried to capitalize on the success of “Shrek”’s style of fractured fairy tales before changing hands again and again each bringing creative changes, which is usually the kiss of death for a movie. The process became a mess, but eventually, after nine years in production (three times the length of an animated feature takes to make) it was released in November as Disney’s 50th Animated Feature Film.

The story adapts the classic fairy tale of Rapunzel. The wicked Mother Gothel kidnaps and confines Princess Rapunzel to a hidden tower, using Rapunzel’s magic hair to stay eternally young. When a criminal on the run, Flynn Rider, stumbles across Rapunzel and her tower. She begs him to take her out to see the mystetious floating lights that appear in the night sky on her birthday each year. He reluctantly agrees and from there we have the “Romantic Road Trip” story, immortalized by the movie “It Happened One Night” but probably more familiar to younger audiences as the plot for “The Princess and The Frog”.

This movie has lot more snappy physical slapstick humor mixed with a number of quick reaction cuts and pokes fun at some of the trappings of a typical Disney film such as destiny and true love. This seems more in keeping with a Dreamworks or Warner Brothers film than a Disney animated feature, though there is still a classic Disney influence. The reveal of Rapunzel’s tower reminisenct of the reveal of the castle in “Beauty and the Beast”. Rapunzel also runs through a clearing in the forest, animals attracted to sound of her voice a la “Sleeping Beauty”. Then the camera swings over head before spinning around her during the course which has been done in too many Disney movies to get an accurate count. The musical numbers are also written by Alan Menken, who songs for “Aladdin”, “The Little Mermaid”, and “Beauty and the Beast”. The film's Academy-Awarded Nominated song "I See the Light", is very reminiscent of "Aladdin"'s "A Whole New World", with our two leads on a form of transportation (a boat, a la "Kiss the Girl" from "The Little Mermaid), admiring the beautiful scenery, falling in love while performing a duet.

The visuals are strong with hearty laughs and quality moments for good family entertainment. The formula may seem a bit familiar, but it is still interesting to watch. If they had pushed certain elements of the story I think it could have been a perfect 5. But after so much time and money were invested into this project, its likely the executives pushed it into a familiar direction. With that in mind, its probably a miracle we got something as good as we did.

Final Score:

4 out of 5. Enjoyable.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

Starring Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Will Poulter, Simon Pegg
Directed by Michael Apted
Based on the book by C.S. Lewis
Fantasy/ Family
Rated PG


The Chronicles of Narnia were a very influential series in my childhood and I have enjoyed seeing these books adapted to the big screen. However, when I heard that Walden Media was having trouble coming up with the money for the third installment of the series, I knew that was the least of their problems. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is probably the densest and most symbolism heavy book in the seven and doesn’t have so much a plot so much as it is a series of short stories threaded together by a common goal. I honestly thought that perhaps a five episode television miniseries would be better at conveying this particular story than a compact two-hour movie.

Disney jettisoned the Narnia series after “Prince Caspian” didn’t make the kind of money that the studio wanted. Twentieth Century Fox was quick to get there hands on the property, as they have been looking to create a lucrative fantasy franchise to par with “Harry Potter”, as seen with their failures in “Eragon”, “City of Ember”, and “Percy Jackson”. So Fox can claim to have both saved this series as well as having condemned it.


The film begins with Edmund and Lucy having to stay with their unpleasant cousin Eustace, before the three children are suddenly plunged into Narnia once again. Given the dense material it only makes sense that we start off into things without any delay.

King Caspian exposits to the children that Narnia is at peace now, and that he is on a quest to find the missing seven lords who were briefly mentioned in the last film. I’m not sure why it’s necessary that the king himself go on this voyage, and makes him seem like a bit of micro manager. While Edmund and Lucy are all to happy to be back in Narnia, while Eustace is easily irritated by this strange new fantasy world. But the purpose of their quest soon switches gears as our heroes discover a green mist that swallows up innocent sailors. We are told it is a force of nature that is subtle and seeks to corrupt and influence those we go near it.

The establishment and exposition on this green meanie comes a little late into the game. Our heroes our told by on old wizard that to defeat the green mist, they must reunite seven swords on an island in the east. Everyone just responds, “Sure, why not?” So that it what they do.


For all the complaints I’m about to unleash, one the things I really did like about the movie was its lighthearted tone. Other recent fantasy movies like “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” have gotten gradually darker, whereas “Dawn Treader” keeps things fun and has some good humor to it. While the story may have been changed to suit the big screen, I’m grateful they didn’t follow the trend of making the series darker in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience.

One of the most obvious changes in this movie, (besides the plot) is Simon Pegg replacing Eddie Izzard as the voice of the warrior mouse, Reepicheep. His performance in this role easily steals the show. While the effects are impressive in this movie, it’s easy to see were most of the money went and I think it was pretty well spent.

Eustace’s naivety with his newfound surroundings is used primarily for comic relief. Thankfully he is used sparingly and effectively, as his incorrigible tendencies and cowardice could have easily made him intolerable if he were overused. During one of their many island encounters, a magic spell turns Eustace into a CG dragon. This results in a lot of his character development arc happening off camera, as the dragon isn’t as capable of showing emotions as his human actor, no matter how pig faced that actor might be. I imagine this change was a bigger part of the movie than it was in the book so that Dragon Eustace and Reepicheep could have more scenes together since both creatures were created by the computer, and the animators wouldn’t have to worry about mixing live action with animation when those two were together. During this time, Reepicheep gives Eustace the “You are meant for a great destiny” speech. It’s the kind you only get from movies and inept guidance counselors who don’t have any form of helpful advice. It is a trope that I hate so much.

There was no central antagonist in the original book, so the green mist was an invention for the film, and it makes sense that they would want to try and tie things together in a bit more familiar action movie-fight to the save the world plot. Also, after having the last two films with big bads that had to be beaten in a “Lord of the Rings” style battle charges, the idea of a subtle and intangible evil that seeks to tempt and influence our heroes seems like a cool idea. The only problem is there was nothing subtle about the green mist. Every time our heroes were tempted to do something wrong, the green mist would appear in the background just in case we were too dumb to figure out on ourselves.

Because the purpose of their voyage spends time switching gears there really isn’t a sense of anticipation, or anything that makes us excited about reaching the end goal. It really does feel as if our characters are making it up as they go along. Also since the book is so dense and the film is rather short, a lot of development and vices of the characters feel very compressed. It makes a lot of the various island adventures and magical creatures they encounter seem superficial. For example, after agreeing to defeat the green mist, Lucy gets herself a groupie, a little girl whose mother was taken by the mist. She has nothing to do with the plot, its just pathos, serving as a reminder that they are out here to actually do something. Edmund has a subplot about wanting power and Lucy has a subplot about wanting to be beautiful like her sister (which really could just be solved by applying “Whore Red” lipstick), but both subplots are resolved about as quickly as they are introduced.

The final conflict, is a bit weird. Not because it was scary, but because it was a touch inconsistent. After sailing into the dark island, we learn that the dark island has the power to manifest as the fears whatever you are thinking of. Edmund reacts by saying “Oh, no, I couldn’t help but think of it!” The others ask “What?” At least three people within earshot of me in the theater whispered to their neighbor “The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!” Sadly, this is not the case. I thought that since the Green Mist appeared to Edmund twice in this movie in the form of the White Witch from the first movie, and tempted him with power, saying that she “can make him a man”, that she might have manifest as a psychical evil to defeat for the final fight. But no, instead Edmund’s greatest fear is a sea serpent.

The ending feels a bit tacked on. After defeating the big evil, they spot an island on the horizon and decide to check it out. Edmund even says, “Might as well”, and I have to agree, they’ve come this far without any sort of plan or purpose, they might as well check that looks remotely interesting. In the book, reaching “the end of the world”, was one of the primary goals of their voyage, but now it’s nothing more than a rushed conclusion without any weight given to it. When given the choice of sailing to “the end of the world”, Caspian says he wants to go but cannot because he feels responsibility he left behind that we have never seen and have never been mentioned before this time. Aslan the lion shows up to remind us that he in fact still in the movie despite having made one other very brief appearance earlier. Also to remind that, just in case we forgot, he is supposed to be Jesus. There is some foreshadowing for the next movie in the series, but in all honestly I don’t think it’s going to happen. I am thankful that we got to the third movie, and that seems like a decent place to stop.

There is decent action, acting and effects, but no real anticipation or sense of build up. Instead we just have compressed character studies. There is a sense of risk, just not a whole lot. This is easily the weakest of the series, which is a shame is it is one of the stronger books of the series. It’s not boring at all, its just not very engaging either.

Final Score:

3 out of 5. Their heart is in the right place, just not in the pace.