Two lines from The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian stand out. The first is uttered by Trumpkin, a friendly dwarf, “You may find Narnia a more savage place than you remember,” and a line uttered by Aslan several times, “Things never happen the same way twice.” No doubt this movie is proof. This movie stunk whereas the first installment was thoroughly enjoyable.
A movie populated with children and computer animation is not going to win any acting Oscars. It will not even be considered. The acting reminded me of my summer classes I took when I was in middle school. Those sessions were so bad, including the final production, that I realized (a 12 year old starring in the production realized) acting was not my forte nor could it be. The Narnia players were that unbelievable. I will admit, however, that Iron Man was actually surprising. Who’d have thunk it, that a superhero movie would be marked with good acting. I have always been a Robert Downey, Jr. fan and Iron Man helped solidify his standing. Terrence Howard was even his usual self. And Gwyneth Paltrow actually improved her rankings in my catalogues. And Favreau did a good job with the humor and action in Iron Man.
The Iron Man story was also better. Narnia is clearly informed by a well known Christian writing about Christianity. Even though the movie may try to secularize it (at least somewhat) there is no way to do so. Aslan appears when faith is validated. Aslan has the ability to do anything – the funniest part of the movie was the exchange between Aslan and the mouse voiced by Eddie Izard at the end – such as appear suddenly after a thousand year hiatus, summon the river elemental (?) and regenerate body parts. But the movie in its attempt to distance from the Christian theory actually only epitomizes the most problematic parts of the dogma (if Aslan could have stopped all the bad stuff all along, then why didn’t he?)
Iron Man is almost as problematic. It begins as a polemic about capitalism and its relationship to war and the War on Terrorism. Tony Stark creates an ultimate weapon that can make the war more humane and finished, but it is then co-opted by the terrorists and the capitalists. In the end, the movie makes not an argument against unfettered capitalism but rather makes an argument for war and cleaning up the business of war. But the business of war’s supposed intrinsic goodness remains unquestioned.
There is one thing that needs to be disclosed before I end this post, however. There was a tear-up moment in Narnia and not in Iron Man. At the end when the kids are re-introduced to Aslan there are looks of guilt, as though their wavering faith has hurt Aslan’s feelings and consequently they feel badly for that. Seriously? Aslan was always around, just as God is supposedly always around and yet here we are feeling guilt for not having unwavering belief. Are we truly arrogant enough to think the omnipotent being cares about our faith? The look upon the awakened face would not be one of guilt but rather one of awe. If I were to come face to face with the creator, after so many years of not believing, I would be happy to be home and also terrified for my soul. Guilt for her hurt feelings would not be concern.
Winner: Iron Man.