Susan and Caspian, sitting in a tree …

A friend of mine wrote to ask if I felt any “outrage” over the kiss that takes place in the newest TV spot for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. In a nutshell, no I don’t, at least not yet; I am willing to wait and see how it fits into the broader film, though I must say the kiss should be deeply awkward for Caspian, at least, since to him Susan is no ordinary girl but, rather, one of the legendary, even mythical, Kings and Queens of Narnia come to life. (Imagine if your favorite hero from centuries past were to suddenly pop into your life — and then kiss you on the lips.) If this film is giving me any seriously bad vibes right now, it is due to the film’s alleged treatment of Peter, rather than Susan, etc.

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In other news, the Los Angeles Times explains why director Andrew Adamson came back to make a second Narnia film:

ADAMSON, WHO also directed the first two “Shrek” films, wasn’t sure he wanted to return to Narnia, even though the first film was acclaimed by critics, embraced by families and has grossed more than $748 million worldwide. But he looked into the eyes of the then-10-year-old Georgie Henley and changed his mind.

Henley plays Lucy, the youngest of the four Pevensie children who enter Narnia’s timeless world. When Adamson was directing Henley in the first film, she couldn’t cry when he needed her to, after the lion Aslan’s death. Henley had always wept watching “The Lion King,” so Adamson cued its DVD up, but that didn’t work, either. Running out of ideas, the director shared with Henley his doubt that he would direct the next film. The tears finally came.

Months later, with the first film completed, Henley sidled up to the New Zealand-born director. “When you said you weren’t going to do the sequel, were you saying that just to make me cry or because you really didn’t want to do the sequel?” she asked Adamson. “That made me want to do it,” the director says. “When you look into those eyes, you can’t say no.”

Well, I can certainly sympathize with that; Henley is indeed irresistibly endearing, and the franchise’s best asset. But alas, it looks like those of us who concluded that Adamson wasn’t right for this franchise must now hold Henley responsible for the fact that he came back and did not let a better director take the reins.

MAY 11 UPDATE: NarniaWeb reports that, according to Anna Popplewell, who plays Susan, the film was going to feature a fair bit of “flirting” between Susan and Caspian, but the “flirting” has since been “removed from the final cut of the film, so that the kiss was more of an impetuous thing rather than a running theme.”

This time it’s official, and in high-def.

A few days ago I posted a trailer for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull that had apparently been filmed surreptitiously and leaked onto the internet. By the end of the day, however, the trailer had been taken down. Well, now it’s back online again — and in high-definition — on the movie’s official website. As before, it gives us new glimpses of the crystal skull and of the John Hurt character, so I have added screen-captures from this trailer to my blog posts on those particular subjects.

Iron Man and this week’s romantic comedy

Last week saw the release of Baby Mama and Then She Found Me, two movies that, as Carina Chocano of the Los Angeles Times pointed out, both concern “a woman in her late 30s who is desperate to have a baby.” But one of those films opened in over 2,500 theatres across the continent, while the other one opened in only 9, so it wasn’t really a fair fight — and I’m sure you could always find some obscure flick and match it with a mainstream release if you were looking for coincidences of that sort.

More interesting, I think, is the face-off this week between Iron Man and Made of Honor. The former film, which I have seen, is a superhero movie heavy on the masculine machinery, while the latter film, which I have not yet seen, is a romantic comedy that has, as they say, been released this week as “counter-programming” designed to appeal to all the women out there whose boyfriends have abandoned them for the metal guy. But I wonder if the two films are all that different, really.

I mean, think about it. Based on the trailer for Made of Honor and my viewing of Iron Man last night — at a stupid suburban theatre that cropped the top, bottom and sides of the picture, but that’s another post for another day — I think it is safe to say this much: Each film is about a promiscuous man who enjoys a platonic relationship, and indeed is best friends of a sort, with a particular woman who is wise to his ways but isn’t bothered by them because, well, they’re not lovers or anything. And both films suggest that the relationship changes, and the man feels an itch to become more responsible, after the man and the woman spend several weeks or months apart on separate continents.

Is that a stretch? Well, yeah. But there is an element in Iron Man that is as old as the romantic comedy genre itself, and I wonder if that might help the film appeal to the so-called female quadrant, i.e. to the intended audience of films like Made of Honor. Certainly my wife liked Iron Man, and she got a kick out of the Tony Stark-Pepper Potts relationship — but then, she has always preferred superhero movies to romantic comedies anyway.

Is that … is that … is that the crystal skull?

I won’t post anything spoiler-ish here in this post, but suffice it to say that Official Pix has some new photos from Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for sale, including a couple shots of the reclusive John Hurt character and a few brand-new shots of the crystal skull itself, which I have added to my “crystal skull sightings” post from three months ago. Hat tip to

The Golden Compass — circles and ovals

I haven’t had a chance to listen to the director’s commentary yet, but I checked out the bonus disc that comes with The Golden Compass today, and one comment in particular stood out from the nearly three hours of behind-the-scenes documentaries. In the featurette on the film’s production design, executive producer Mark Ordesky states:

Dennis Gassner started with the idea of Lyra and her world as this pure place, so to use — to sort of take that into a visual metaphor, he came up with the idea of the circle, you know, a perfect circle. A circle’s a pure form, and this’ll be cool when you’re watching the movie. If you look closely in the production design of Oxford, you’ll see the circle represented in a number of ways. The spirit projector that Asriel shows, the lenses are these perfect discs. The alethiometer is a perfect form, it’s a circle. And you move from Oxford and you get to London, you start to see a different form, which is the oval. And the oval is an impure form, it’s an impurity of the circle. And as you track his production design — when you look at Bolvangar, you look closely at Bolvangar, you’ll see that oval. Even if you look at the Magisterial emblem, you’ll see it. So it’s a changing of the form, and in a weird kind of way, the villainy of the movie and the books is trying to change Lyra, in the same way that the perfect circle that is Lyra, that is the golden compass, that is Oxford, gets bent and changed. And I’ve really, really oversimplified it, but if you’re looking for one sort of visual metaphor for Dennis’s approach to production design, that would be it.

I find this striking because the film and the books, broadly speaking, are about the loss of innocence and the acquisition of knowledge, and historically, I have long associated the contrast between circles and ovals with Johannes Kepler‘s discovery in the 17th century that planets move in imperfect ellipses rather than the perfect circles that astronomers had believed in for centuries. In other words, I always thought circles were associated with the pre-modern immature innocence that Philip Pullman associates with Adam and Eve, while ovals were associated with the modern grown-up knowledge that Pullman associates with the serpent and the Fall. In other words, I would have thought that Pullman preferred ovals to circles, just as he prefers knowledge and the messy imperfections of this life to innocence and the promises of perfection made by religion. But the film seems to go the other way, making the circles good and the ovals bad. Fascinating.

Here are some screen captures of the Oxford circles:

And here are some screen captures of the non-Oxford ovals:

Click on any of the images above for a larger version.

Battlestar GalacticSimpsons!

Very cute. And not just because I happen to be watching Season 3 of Battlestar Galactica as I type this. Hat tip to Alissa Wilkinson.