By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Photo by Lynn Imanaka
Disney’s THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN runs two hours and twenty minutes. It is two hours too many and a total waste of your time and money. The film is overloaded with sanitized violence set against a backdrop of super-elevated reality – sadly, where even “the trees used to dance”. For all the alleged Christian underpinnings by novelist C.S. Lewis, i.e., “for those who hold on” – the vapid screenplay and its endless depiction of swords-out evisceration (even two-fisted!) and every-ready gut-wrenching slaughter, results in a wearying experience that lacks a common-sense moral core. Parents be warned! The film has been rated PG – “Some material may not be suitable for children.” Do not be misled, how to get your money and numb your brain is pure science to the mouse that roared: “Since the beliefs that parents want to instill in their children can vary greatly, we ask that instead of adding your personal opinions about what is right or wrong in a film, that you instead use this new feature to help parents make informed viewing decisions by describing the facts of relevant scenes in the title for each one of the different categories: Sex and Nudity, Violence and Gore, Profanity, Alcohol/Drugs/Smoking, and Frightening/Intense Scenes.”
On the cutting room floor – the future of Narnia
What actually ups the ante between PG and PG-13 is any depiction of drug usage. Presumably, the pre-pubescent Lucy’s prettily bottled potion – the One Drop Wonder that saves the fair-skinned/fair-furred from final breath – doesn’t count. Too bad she and it weren’t around when Bambi’s mother got gunned-down (off-screen) by the gutless wonders who knew better than to kill a doe in season. To mothers with children under 17 – it’s time to learn how to close your wallets and just say “NO!” to the Disney Corporation.
Final moments – THE CALL – Regina Spektor
The music-by-committee score – whatever is “original” being credited to conductor Harry Gregson-Williams – is equally tiresome and damnably uninspired. No doubt, every one of its slash and chase measures can or will be appropriated into every other future “Chronicle” – along with the gloom and doom vocalizations from Gregson’s own favorite songsters, the Crouch End Festival Chorus. Egad. Topping it all off, the airy-faerie-vocals and stumbling lyrics of Regina Spektor’s last-minute-insertion pop-tune, “The Call”. Considering the Oscar-winning junk produced by last year’s Disney team of Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz – no screaming mystery here about the sealed envelope come the festivities of 2009.
Of merit are the PG-rated costume designs of Isis Mussenden. Those anticipating a PG-13 glimpse of 27-year-old Ben Barnes (as “Prince Caspian”) will be disappointed. However, the supernatural nudity of centaur “Glenstorm” (Cornell John) and that of his un-waxed female companions may provoke several commandment-breaking daydreams.
CORNELL JOHN – as Glenstorm
One performer stands out from all the rest. At 21, William Moseley (as “Peter Pevensie”) – native of Sheepscombe, Gloucestershire, England, – displays the same promise as did young Val Kilmer. I hope that what appears to be his more Classical persuasion and broader scope of perception will rise and just say “NO!” to any seductive contract from Disney and return a resounding “YES!” to whatever offer from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s own favorite mummers, the ROYAL SHAKESPEARE COMPANY.
WILLIAM MOSELEY – as Peter Pevensie
Finally, spend your time and hard-earned-money for Steven Spielberg’s PG-13 rated INDIANA JONES AND THE KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL opening Thursday, May 22nd at San Francisco’s. CASTRO THEATRE. With screenplay by David Koepp – based on the story and characters developed by George Lucas, Jeff Nathanson, and Philip Kaufman – its 124 minutes are fabulously noisy and marvelously aggressive, i.e., “violent”, with crashing trucks, tumbling temples, rotating turbines, and whimsically scary images. The enchanting and turbulent music created by John Williams is textbook brilliance on how to compose a perfect film score complete with recognizable themes for legendary characters and timeless ideas. Across the board – the performances are heartwarming and authentic.
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Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Mr. Martinfield’s Broadway clients have all profited from his vocal methodology, “The Belter’s Method”, which is being prepared for publication. If you want answers about your vocal technique, post him a question on AllExperts.com.
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