I took the Pillowfight Fairy to see Prince Caspian.
(Ever write a sentence, and then realize that it has a completely different meaning to normal human beings than it does to you and the people you usually communicate with? I was just struck by the silliness inherent in that sentence: "I took the Pillowfight Fairy to see Prince Caspian." Fairy, meet Prince; Prince, meet Fairy. Have fun with the pillows...)
Ahem. Where was I?
I have of course been wondering up until this point whether it would be a good idea to take the Fairy to see this movie. On the one hand, she liked the movie version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe really, really well. When I told her the book Prince Caspian was being made into a movie too, she was very interested in seeing it. Furthermore, I'd read her the book some time ago, and she got into it.
On the other hand, I'd heard from numerous sources that it was a bit intense. It's a war movie, for all intents and purposes; the entire movie builds, from almost the first moments, toward a climactic battle that everyone knows is coming. There's not a whole lot of blood on-screen, but there is a whole lot of fighting and a whole lot of killing.
And in addition to that, this was to be the first time the Pillowfight Fairy has been in a movie theater. Our family just doesn't have much of a movie-going habit; we usually wait for the DVDs to come out, and we watch them in the safety and security of our own home, where we can pause the movie whenever someone has to go pee, for instance. And while things on the small screen can certainly be scary, it's often nowhere near as intense as when the same scene is shown on the big screen.
But on the other hand (thinking like Tevye here), I remember seeing Star Wars on the big screen when it came out in '77. My whole family went to that. I had just turned six at the time, and my younger brother didn't turn four until a few months after it came out. If (now) Uncle Andy could enjoy Star Wars while still three, I figured the Pillowfight Fairy could handle Prince Caspian at five.
Now, I warned her that the movie could be pretty scary, but she bravely dismissed this concern: "I'm not scared by the Narnia movie." Ok, girl, here we go....
But just in case, when we got to the theater, I picked a pair of seats way in the back of the theater, so the experience wouldn't be so in-our-faces, and I picked a pair of seats on an aisle, in case it got too intense and she had to leave the theater suddenly. We were the first two people in the theater, so we got to sit anywhere we wanted.
And it was also helpful that this wasn't the first weekend the movie was out, so there wasn't much of a crowd. There were a couple dozen people in the theater, tops; it was maybe 10% full. So we could quietly converse during the movie, as necessary, without bugging anyone else, since there was no one else sitting near us.
Now, my wife and I used to go to a fair number of movies before the kids came along, but we haven't had much chance since the Fairy was born back in 2002. After all, it's generally not good form to take the really young ones to the theater; screaming babies tend to have a negative effect on the enjoyment of the other patrons. And of course, since the Pillowfight Fairy was only the first of our three kids, Tonya and I have had some of those "really young ones" ever since. And babysitters are a bit of a hassle to set up; on those rare occasions that Tonya and I find ourselves kidless, we tend to want to spend time with each other, conversing about adult things and doing stuff together; movies tend not to be our first choice under these circumstances. So the number of movies that Tonya and I have seen in the theater since the Fairy came along, is literally in the single digits.
And I've noticed that a lot can change in the movie industry in five-and-a-half years. For one thing, the theater was already playing advertisements when the Fairy and I first entered, some twenty minutes or so before the movie's posted starting time. The theater was one of those new-fangled digital projection theaters, where they don't use a film projector; and, of course, the fact that I would call this "new-fangled" shows you just how long I've been out of the movie-attending scene. :-) But my guess is that the theater management probably prefers doing it this way, since you don't have to queue up all that film for all those ads; you just tell the computer, "Play!" and it all happens automatically.
So the Fairy and I sat through at least twenty minutes or so of ads before the previews started.
As the previews ran, I started to see signs that the Fairy would probably sci- be Ok with the intensity of the cinematic experience. One of the first previews is for the upcoming dystopianfi thriller City of Ember. The trailer was dark, it was action-packed, it was intense, it was scary, it was claustrophobic; there were lots of quick scene-cuts and strange lighting effects; there was a sense of constant fear as the main characters were trying to escape. And when the trailer was all over, the wide-eyed Fairy said: "That was terrific."
Yeah, she's going to be just fine.
That trailer was followed by at least six or seven more. That's something that's also changed since I was a regular movie-goer. At three minutes or so per trailer, it takes a good amount of time to get through all of those! But the Fairy kept giving me signs that she would be fine with the feature presentation. During the trailer for the upcoming Journey to the Center of the Earth, we were treated to people falling into an abyss! And there were tunnels! And there was lava! And there were dinosaurs! (Including one that drooled on one of the main characters, which the Fairy found particularly important.) And at the end of this trailer, my little girl was acting just like her Mommy does when she's had one too many Pixie Sticks: she sat there with a big, silly grin on her face, saying, "Hehheh... Hehhehheh... heh heh..."
Watching the Fairy was more entertaining than the trailers themselves. ;-)
Ok, so the movie came up--finally. It's been reviewed in plenty of other places, so I won't go into the show itself here, other than to say that I liked it a lot. It does depart in several ways from the book, but there are good reasons for that; the book has a lot of themes that wouldn't translate well to the screen. The director here has created a good war movie that follows the book closely enough that you sort of know where it's going; but it departs as needed to exploit the strengths that the screen has over the page.
How did the Fairy take the movie?
Pretty well. There was really only one place where she got really spooked.
Minor Spoiler Alert!
There's a scene toward the beginning, which is based directly on a scene from the book, involving a bear that attacks the traveling party. The way this is done in the movie, Lucy sees the bear first, and thinks it is a Narnian Talking Bear; so she goes up to say hi, not realizing that the bear is wild, and is very hungry. The bear sees her, and charges her. Lucy realizes her mistake and starts running away, and the bear nearly gets her; she falls, and the bear lunges.... and right at that point, the Pillowfight Fairy was so drawn in that she let out a scream-sob. Thankfully, that scene didn't go on much further; the dwarf shot and killed the bear with an arrow right before the bear got to Lucy. The tension came back down, and the Fairy calmed down again.
There were a few other times where the Fairy got a little spooked, but not as badly as in that scene. The other times mostly involved chase scenes, which the Fairy has always hated. There's one toward the end of the movie where a handful of mounted Telmarine soldiers are chasing Lucy and Susan on horseback (a scene not in the book); Lucy and Susan get separated, and one of the Telmarines nearly gets Lucy. It was starting to look like the Fairy would lose her cool again, but just at that moment Aslan appeared and knocked down the Telmarine and his steed. And with Aslan there, everything was safe again.
There were a couple of things that the Fairy liked, but mainly they involved either Aslan himself (especially where he meets Lucy out in the woods, and they roll about in the grass in happy greeting) or the mice. I'd read in all the reviews that every time Reepicheep is on-screen, he steals the show; I can personally vouch that this is, in fact, the case. That mouse is a hoot. And even the scene at the end (which also is in the book), where he's been gravely injured, and is brought to Aslan on a bier borne by his mouse followers, has a humorous pathos to it; the other mice are mournfully playing the bagpipes during this very solemn procession. Now that was funny.
Anyway, we fully intend on getting it on DVD when it comes out. And I fully think that the Fairy will want to watch the movie at least as much as she watches the first one these days.
We'll have to see how the Adrenaline Junkie likes it. She's not much younger than her Uncle Andy was when he first saw Star Wars, after all....
Anyway: now that we've reached the bottom line, I think I have to declare the Pillowfight Fairy's first movie-going experience a success. And after seeing those trailers, I think we've got the next movie-going experience all lined up: I'm going to have to take both girls to see the next Pixar movie, Wall-E, after it opens late June. Frankly, I don't think Pixar has made a bad movie yet....