The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Special Edition, Collector's Edition
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Prepare to enter another world when Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media present C.S. Lewis' timeless and beloved adventure. With the stunningly realistic special effects, you'll experience the exploits of Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, four siblings who find the world of Narnia through a magical wardrobe while playing a game of "hide-and-seek" at the country estate of a mysterious professor. Once there, the children discover a charming, once peaceful land inhabited by talking beasts, dwarfs, fauns, centaurs, and giants that has been turned into a world of eternal winter by the evil White Witch, Jadis. Aided by the wise and magnificent lion Aslan, the children lead Narnia into a spectacular climactic battle to be free of the Witch's glacial powers forever! The Chronicles of Narnia, Narnia, and all other book titles, characters and locales original thereto are trademarks of C.S. Lewis Pte Ltd. and are used with permission. (c) Disney/Walden
Two-Disc Special Edition Features
Both the two-disc special edition and the single-disc editions feature a filmmakers' commentary and another one by director Andrew Adamson and the child actors. The exhaustive second disc in this version, however, is the main attraction here. One section, entitled "Creating Narnia," details the journey of Adamson from directing newbie (previous credits include Shrek and Shrek 2, but no live-action films) to helmer of a lavish production based on a beloved classic. How did he do it? By treating Narnia as a world that could actually exist in a parallel universe rather than a fantasyland. The behind-the-scenes documentary is quite engrossing, particularly when the visual-effects crew good-naturedly complains how Adamson's own background in visual effects made him simultaneously more respectable and more difficult to work with. A separate featurette on the child actors reveals how Adamson blindfolded Georgie Henley (who plays Lucy, the littlest Pevensie child) before bringing her onto the snowy Narnia set so that her initial reaction could be captured on film. Henley, who frequently mouthed her co-star's lines with them and sprouted several inches during production, proved to be the precocious handful of the bunch, but the documentary does a good job showing the wide-eyed elation you'd imagine children would have making such a film.
Eight different members of the film team (production design, cinematography, and music) also get their own featurette, and massive amounts of footage are devoted to the construction of the various creatures. There's even a virtual map of Narnia and a timeline to demonstrate the 15 years that pass in Narnia vs. the mere seconds back outside the wardrobe. One complaint: that author C.S. Lewis is hardly mentioned by the filmmakers. His own little featurette mentions once that he is a "theologian," but glosses over his top-selling books' ties to Christianity. Nevertheless, if you're debating which Narnia to purchase, you're better off investing in the two-disc version--a virtual closetful of goodies for fans of the film. --Ellen A. Kim
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ACTING: Having an all children cast is always risky, mainly because of inexperience with actually portraying emotion through acting. However, the kids do an amazing job. I never really liked the children from Harry Potter. Georgie Henley, who plays the youngest daughter, does a fantastic job. You could call her the British Dakota Fanning. As for the rest of the cast, it's mostly CGI. Tilda Swinton does a great job as the white witch, and she does a great job with being evil. The voice acting for the CGI is fantastic. Liam Neeson is probably the most well known actor doing voice work. He gives Aslan the lion a sense of wisdom. My favorite animals would have to be the two married beavers who just bicker as typical husband and wife. The film has everything from cheetahs to polar bears.
BOTTOM LINE: A visual feast for the eyes from director Andrew Adamson, and a strong and emotional score from Harry Gregson-Williams. The CGI is astounding, and the sets are amazing. The film is very entertaining even if it get's saccharine at times, but then you have set youself in a child's mindset. A new fanstasy franchise is born.