The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
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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
C.S. Lewis's classic novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe makes an ambitious and long-awaited leap to the screen in this modern adaptation. It's a CGI-created world laden with all the special effects and visual wizardry modern filmmaking technology can conjure, which is fine so long as the film stays true to the story that Lewis wrote. And while this film is not a literal translation--it really wants to be so much more than just a kids' movie--for the most part it is faithful enough to the story, and whatever faults it has are happily faults of overreaching, and not of holding back. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tells the story of the four Pevensie children, Lucy, Peter, Edmund, and Susan, and their adventures in the mystical world of Narnia. Sent to the British countryside for their own safety during the blitz of World War II, they discover an entryway into a mystical world through an old wardrobe. Narnia is inhabited by mythical, anthropomorphic creatures suffering under the hundred-year rule of the cruel White Witch (Tilda Swinton, in a standout role). The arrival of the children gives the creatures of Narnia hope for liberation, and all are dragged into the inevitable conflict between evil (the Witch) and good (Aslan the Lion, the Messiah figure, regally voiced by Liam Neeson).
Director (and co-screenwriter) Andrew Adamson, a veteran of the Shrek franchise, knows his way around a fantasy-based adventure story, and he wisely keeps the story moving when it could easily become bogged down and tiresome. Narnia is, of course, a Christian allegory and the symbology is definitely there (as it should be, otherwise it wouldn't be the story Lewis wrote), but audiences aren’t knocked over the head with it, and in the hands of another director it could easily have become pedantic. The focus is squarely on the children and their adventures. The four young actors are respectable in their roles, especially considering the size of the project put on their shoulders, but it's the young Georgie Henley as the curious Lucy who stands out. This isn't a film that wildly succeeds, and in the long run it won't have the same impact as the Harry Potter franchise, but it is well done, and kids will get swept up in the adventure. Note: Narnia does contain battle scenes that some parents may consider too violent for younger children. --Dan Vancini
Stills from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Click for larger image)
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When this movie originally came out is theaters I was euphoric. I was overjoyed and I had never read the book. The previews portrayed this as a more vibrant version of Lord of the Rings. Luckily, my church took a group of us to see the movie in a nearby theater. After a full, undivided view of the film, I felt disappointed with what I had seen. The movie compared in no way to Lord of the Rings. However, I have now watched it on DVD without the expectations of it being anything other than The Chronicles of Narnia. I enjoyed it much more without the strong comparison to Lord of the Rings.
"Spectacular epic film-making fills the screen and your heart," says John Siegel of Good Morning America. He must have put on rose goggles before watching this one to make that kind of an overstatement. Narnia is a great fantasy story that is unfortunately hurt by length and bizarre cutting. I did walk away from this one wanting more though. If you are into the fantasy genre, you will want to add this to your collection.
Four young children: Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter are sent away from a German blitzkrieg. Many children at this time were sent away from battle zones to ensure their safety. They are sent to live with a mysterious professor in a country estate. While playing a game of hide-and-go seek, Lucy enters a spare room with nothing but a wardrobe in it. Lucy attempts to hide in the Wardrobe and finds the gate to Narnia inside of it. Soon the other children enter the world. A Narnia prophecy says that when two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve enter Narnia, the world will be safe again. Safe from what you may be asking yourself. Narnia has been controls by a tyrant known the White Witch. She can manipulate ice. Narnia is now completely frozen by her. All that stood in her way have fallen.
The children's only hope is to find the former ruler of Narnia, Asland. Asland has magically reappeared after thousands of years due to the humans entering Narnia. There is a war brewing between Asland and the White Witch. The four human children are the key to who will win this war.
There are almost a million film devices in this movie. Symbolism reigns supreme with many symbols that relate to the bible. Asland represents God or Jesus Christ. One of the children will have to make the choice between good and evil. Asland forgives those who betray him. It is obvious to anyone who has knowledge of biblical events. No one else will notice it. There is also a lot of foreshadowing in this film. The talk about "always winter, no Christmas" foreshadows later events in the movie, and those events foreshadow later events. I like all these devices in a movie. Considering this came from a book, I understand where all these devices came from.
Narnia is horribly cut up though. The film seems to jump from one scene to a future scene instantly. There is no explanation as to what happened between the two times. At one scene, Peter kills a wolf and Asland tells him to clean his sword. Suddenly they jump to him being knighted in the same place. It looks like a horrible cut from one scene to another. I usually would never say this, but this movie needed more fluff. It feels like the movie could have been at least twice as long for a complete presentation.
The acting in this movie is mixed. I really liked Lucy, Susan, and a few other characters. Peter and Edmund are not the best actors though. They just seem generic and do not respond correctly to certain scenes. They seem to keep a straight face the entire movie or respond incorrectly.
The extras are decent, but nothing special. There is a blooper reel that lasts a few seconds. You can turn on fun facts during the movie. There are also two separate commentary tracks. One is with the kids and director, and the other is a filmmakers' commentary. At the end of the movie, you are sick of the kids' voices though. They are interesting, but do not bring this movie up.
If you are into the fantasy genre, or have read the books, check this one out. Everyone else should find some other movie. The awkward cuts and mixed acting will keep you annoyed, but the story will keep you wanting more.
But at exactly 1:29:01 (at least by my DVD player), that's when he made me pause it. "Dad," he queried, "did someone take Aslan to the vet?"
Sure enough, the lion savior of Narnia seemed to be missing a pair. You can see this quite clearly if you pause the movie at certain points. Sure, you tell yourself that they're out of view behind his prodigious tail, but you know you're just kidding yourself.
No, there's no way around it: everyone's favorite lion was somehow gelded -- possibly in a previous battle with the White Witch.
Anyhow. My point is that I don't much appreciate Disney's forcing me to explain the concept of a "eunuch" to my son at such an impressionable age!
Some of the minor changes to the storyline and dialogue did irritate me, just because I know the novel SO well. I would have liked more of Lewis' humour to be maintained instead of the humour that was added by the screenwriters. Most noticeably is the absence of the development of Mrs. Beaver with her cute statements about the bread knife & sewing machine. They also removed the scene in which the animals were having a party with food & drink given to them by Father Christmas - you know the part where the witch turns them into stone. Instead they developed the fox character and used him alone in this altered scenerio. I felt some of the dialogue & scene changes were a little unnecessary from a purist's perspective. Some of the scenes also seemed rushed to me and I would have liked to see the hideout "for beavers in bad times". I know, they had a time limit and actually the movie is over 2 hours which is longer than most movies. What they did with the time they had was really really well done. Hopefully we'll get some of these "deleted scenes" on the dvd.
As someone else mentioned, there is a surprise 30 seconds into the credits that you will not want to miss.
Some parents have expressed concern about the violence quotient, but I went into the movie with a 7-year old in mind and I think it will be okay for MOST younger children. There are the battle scenes and they show one person being killed with an arrow. However, they never dwell long on the battle and no blood is shown. The other part that is disturbing is the part with Tumnus in the dungeon and the implication is that he was tortured. That was rather upsetting and of course Aslan being killed was also very scary. But, they have presented these tastefully & sensitively. Actually the previews for other Disney films were more scary than the main attraction! :-)
My overall impression - EXCELLENT and I hope they make all 7 books into movies.