The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
- Andrew Adamson
- Reviewed by
- Gon Curiel a.k.a. Groucho
- Review date
- Monday, December 19, 2005
One can’t help but like a story about sad, bored kids who find a hidden world inside a wardrobe. One also couldn’t expect that world to be all fun and no threat, because there wouldn’t be any drama in that, but in this case I couldn’t quite get why these kids would be interested in helping out the people of Narnia, who are condemned to eternal Winter and no Christmas thanks to an evil White Witch who has declared herself Queen and is no sweetie pie.
The kids don’t have much choice but anyhow they find it in their hearts to help the Narnians and become what these people think is prophecy. Imagine one day being told that legends of yore talk about your coming to save a magical realm though you fancied yourself not much more than a puny little kid. I believed the kids’ reactions particularly because they adapted well to their ages and distinct personalities. The Narnians are fun to discover—many of them are talking animals—and spend time with, too. And even the evil witch is quite attractive, as discovered by one of the kids, who causes good amount of trouble.
This kid, Edmund, played by Skandar Keynes, steals the show from his brothers and sisters by being, instead of bland, good and submissive, a rebel who wants to have his way even if he knows he’ll only find trouble for himself and others. Illogical though his actions might seem, he never looks like a fool, but rather like a kid striking puberty and needing to be different and bumping his head a few times before he finds the right path. As opposed to him, the older brother, Peter (William Moseley), is a know-it-all who needs to learn a lesson himself, and I also enjoyed that his being on the good side never meant that he was right. The sisters are adorable: teenage Susan (Anna Popplewell) is wise and little Lucy (Georgie Henley) is smart and curious, and somehow leads the way. I loved this little girl.
Enter the talking animals. Like some classic authors, Lewis would probably be astounded by today’s technology allowing his imaginative world to come true thanks to CGI, and I might add that I’m as astounded as he would be, because I really believed that those were animals talking, not because they really look like animals, but because the blend of computer animation and good acting is done to perfection here. The star among the animals is Aslan the Lion, voiced with incalculable dignity by Liam Neeson, and becoming as endearing and “human” as any actual actor. Besides him, there are two standouts: James McAvoy as a fearful faun, Lucy’s friend who is the first mythical creature that we meet, and Tilday Swinton as the White Witch, playing the villain with so much gusto that one even wishes she won the battle.
I had read that Lewis created several parallelisms between his work and Christianity, so, during the film, I wasn’t surprised to see Father Christmas come about giving presents to the children. What I was surprised to see, however, was an obvious reference to the death and resurrection of Christ, but I enjoyed that as much as the metaphorical recount of the same story in The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). It’s a great tale, so why not adapt it to other realities?
In the end, what in The Lord of the Rings proved so alienating to me, identifiable humans being rather irrelevant, was the opposite here and proved effective: real, palpable humans not unlike us as viewers being the heroes whose participation in the procedures is not only helpful but crucial. I regretted that the denouement was such a clichéd battle, but I really cared about the humans involved, which made a big difference. That and the music by Harry Gregson-Williams would be my selected standouts. Other than that, and in fact, as a conclusive opinion, I see this film as only good enough to pass the time, a good alternative to hiding in a wardrobe while playing hide-and-seek.
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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
- Andrew Adamson
- Reviewed by
- José Ruiloba a.k.a. Morris
- Review date
- Thursday, June 05, 2008
The Pevensie children, Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are sent away during the London bombings of WWII to live with Professor Kirke (Jim Broadbent) at his mansion. While playing with his brothers, young Lucy finds a wardrobe where she hides, only to find herself in an entirely different world! She soon stumbles upon Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy), a faunus who becomes her friend and explains her that she’s in Narnia, a place under the evil reign of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton), where winter has lasted 100 years and there’s been no Christmas. Yet powerful Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson) is preparing an army to fight her and bring back freedom, just as the prophecy says, with the help of four young human children...
As I previously stated, this movie is mostly aimed at kids. That’s not a bad thing at all, for it is the kind of movie that adults can also enjoy without feeling bitter. It is a wonderful movie that keeps surprising you with its magic and imagination, and which has all sorts of lessons and messages that will not go unnoticed. It is a heroic journey, a movie with a huge heart.
And amidst all the grandness, a very simple story lies. I was surprised as to how straight-forward and direct the movie is in its actions and scope. It’s as simple as good vs. evil, and the quest that four siblings have to follow in order to grow up, together, and reach a certain goal. It is well-known that C.S. Lewis imprinted his story with certain references to Christian mythology, but I’ve got to say that he did it in subtle ways, without alienating anyone, and that shows in the movie.
I’m reminded of the Harry Potter movies in the way that the first one was not successful in all accounts despite being so faithful to the book, but decisions were taken then that served the following movies a big deal. And even though I like this Narnia movie much more than I did the first Potter, I have the feeling that the next installments can be better, for the imaginary world has already been set up and so have the characters, so it can go anywhere from here. That said, I’ve heard that the other books don’t necessarily involve these same characters, which is a pity, but it also opens the door to many possibilities.
I liked a great deal about this movie. I got a kick out of the beavers. Hilarious creatures! I liked the Aslan figure and what it means to his people. I liked the imagination going into creating so many different creatures. I liked the final battle (in all its bloodless glory) and I loved the shot that starts with a map and transforms into the battlefield right in the middle of it. I loved the interaction between the kids. I loved that the movie takes place in England and that they all have accents and the quirky humor that goes with that. I loved the Professor and his interaction with Lucy, especially. I loved Mr. Tumnus and everything that has to do with him. I loved the Witch, so over-the-top, a pure incarnation of evil.
On the technical side, the movie is grand as expected, although I did have some quibbles here and there. The special effects are impressive, and the work they did with the animals is absolutely first-rate. That said, there are a couple of effects that don’t work as well, such as the one where the flowers take a human form, for example. And I had a lot of problems with the overall production design. I don’t know, the movie looked cheap to me. I know it cost millions, but those must’ve gone to the special effects, because the sets, and even some of the costumes, just didn’t cut it for me. Too bland, too... unimpressive. Donald McAlpine’s photography is excellent, and so is Harry Gregson-Williams’s haunting score. And I really liked Alanis Morissette’s title tune, “Wunderkind”.
Andrew Adamson makes his debut here as a director of a live-action movie, and sometimes it shows. It was a huge task and they took a big risk with him, but you have to give it to him for pulling it off. There are scenes here and there that feel odd in the way they were shot, but nothing serious. He did a terrific job.
Acting-wise, the movie is filled with talented performers. The casting of the four children was brilliant. They are all very good in their parts, bringing to their characters exactly what they’re supposed to, and without ever falling into a trap or a false note. Young Georgie Henley is adorable, and William Moseley is a terrific Peter. Then again, it is Tilda Swinton who steals the movie, bringing her weird persona to a role that suits her perfectly. Jim Broadbent and James McAvoy are exemplary in their smaller parts. And Liam Neeson is suitable enough as the voice of Aslan.
“I’m sorry ma’am, not to offend, but I wasn’t speaking to you.”
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