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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

daily list: 9 reasons why ‘Narnia’ will never be as cool as ‘Lord of the Rings’

Oh my god! Guillermo del Toro is going to direct The Hobbit! Which means we only have to wait a couple of years till we get more Lord of the Rings. I’m starting holding my breath… now!

Oh, okay, in the meantime, we’ve got some Tolkienesque knockoffs to keep us busy. Like the new Chronicles of Narnia flick, Prince Caspian, opening May 16. Sure, I’ll be there for it. But it won’t be like visiting the Shire again. How could it be? Here, nine reasons to rule them all why Lord of the Rings will always rock, and Narnia not so much:
1. Lord of the Rings = Old Testament = vicious deities, exciting plagues and turmoil, rains of fire, etc. Narnia = New Testament = hippie lovefest, turning the other cheek, etc. (What works in real life doesn’t always make for kickass fantasy action.)

2. There’s no way in hell someone as cool as Guillermo del Toro would agree to direct The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I mean, unless he could get Lucy Pevensie eaten by a troll or pushed down a well or something horrible like that.

3. Prince Caspian/Peter Pevensie slash fan fiction is kinda dull compared to Legolas/Gimli slash. (Although Peter/Legolas crossover slash could would be a totally blond-boy orgy…)

4. Hearty hobbit grub of mushroom pies and mugs of ale way better than enchanted Turkish delight — what the hell is that stuff, anyway?

5. Even Pippin could take Mr. Tumnus in a bare-knuckle brawl.

6. Huge dearth in Narnia of evil fiery volcanoes.

7. Peter Pevensie nowhere near as sexy as actual king as Aragorn is moping about not being king.

8. Giant masked demigod in black robes versus pretty white ice queen? What do you think?

9. Narnia is just a made-up place invented by an imaginative author. Middle-Earth is real. Everyone knows that.

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  • AJP

    Turkish delight is a soft candy that usually has nuts in it.

  • Spencer

    Awesome and hilarious, MaryAnn! While I’m looking forward to PC, I am looking forward INFINITELY more to The Hobbit. Then imagine a drop in anticipation as if off of Barad-dur for the Hobbit sequel/LOTR prequel. Its only redeeming factor to me is its director. Personally, the least enjoyable part of the Hobbit was always its slightly corny, campy, childlike quality (good in its own right, but hard to take seriously). What I want is a Pan’s Labyrinth take on the Hobbit. Geek… nerves… overloading…

    And to the idiots who will inevitably join in, she is not totally down on Narnia: research the word “snarky” and check out her review of LWW. It is in that spirit I will take the otherwise deplorable statement that Narnia is a “Tolkienesque knockoff.”

  • Katie

    Wonderfully accurate observations and completely true. Especially #9. Of course Middle Earth is real.

  • Justin

    Dumb and makes no sense. LOTR is highly overrated. No more gay hobbits please.

  • MaryAnn

    Oh, man, some people have no irony lobe at all, do they?

  • amanohyo

    That reminds me of another reason…

    In Middle-earth, trolls are “very large humanoids of great strength and poor intellect,” but I’m pretty sure there aren’t any trolls in Narnia (clearly a fictional world).

    10. Several wonderful posters on this site will have the chance of a lifetime to become voice actors for CG trolls in The Hobbit. Their natural talents would simply go to waste in the Narnia movies.

  • PaulW

    You’re choosing Sauron over Jadis as kickass villain? What does Sauron do but send out minions and blink that fiery eye of his that can’t even spot two hobbits holding hands walking right past his doorstep?! Jadis actually gets to rule over Narnia as the White Witch turning it into her personal snow-globe of hell, and does her own dirty work when it comes to killing talking lions who walk around thinking they’re God’s gift to Narnia. And she dresses fabulously while she’s doing it.

  • I actually think C. S. Lewis was a much better writer than Tolkien, but PJ obviously has a better grasp of LOTR than Adams does of Narnia. The Narnia books are smaller and more laid-back, more spiritual, and Adams tried to force them into an epic template that they didn’t quite fit. Just because they both feature fantasy creatures and swords doesn’t mean they’re meant to be tonally identical.

  • “I actually think C. S. Lewis was a much better writer than Tolkien”

    Eh. Apples and Oranges, really: Lewis was trying to write a children’s story that would hold their interest and teach them about Lion Jesus. Tolkein was most interested in creating a world and (Hobbit aside) holding the interests of adults. One can compare them; but only by ignoring the different goals they had.

    I do like your explanation for why, while full of great moments, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was just too rushed to really work.

  • Spencer

    Too true– apples and oranges. Tolkien famously despised the Narnia books, thinking they had too much allegory to be good as a story and too much story to be good as an allegory. And then there’s that pesky fact that Lewis rarely wrote second or third drafts, which means that he got the entire 7-book series out in as many years, while Tolkien slaved over his work his whole life and never finished it.

    I still love the world of Narnia, but it appeals to a different area of my brain than Middle-earth does.

    Agreed, though, with Prankster: trying to cram an epic feel onto Narnia is often an exercise in futility. Of course, Lewis would have said that having a movie made at all and (horrors!) by Disney is tantamount to artistic murder. But hey– where there’s cash to be had…

  • zoetree

    I’ve always suspected Middle Earth was real, but thanks for confirming it. Britain before Anglos or Saxons, probably. And that island Aragorn’s ancestors are from is Atlantis, of course. But North America doesn’t quite live up to Valinor . . . But, anyway, I wonder if the White Witch could turn Sauron to stone. Or maybe she’d just recall some ancient magic law that would require Sauron to die because he was the biggest traitor of all. Of course no one ever held her accountable for her own traitorous acts in Charon or Narnia; bit of a break in the logic there.

    Apples and oranges, yes. Fortunately I like both apples and oranges, but apple peel sometimes sticks in my teeth, so I have to overlook that aspect of apples and brush my teeth really well afterwards to continue to eat them. So I think Lewis’ writings would be the apple of the two because there’s definitely more things I have to overlook to keep liking the Chronicles. And his space trilogy, well I’ve pretty much tossed them, although there are some interesting ideas in them, it’s more like boiled okra than apples, so I don’t go there anymore.

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