Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and Wardrobe Doesn’t Disappoint!! Michelle’s Review!!

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe came as a pleasant surprise. I’ll admit, I had absolutely no interest in seeing this film, I wasn’t brought up with C.S. Lewis and had no idea what the story was about, then the added fact that it featured “talking animals,” I was ready to write this thing off.

But right from the beginning when we meet the Pevensie kids, who were running into a bomb shelter at the beginning of WWII, I felt immediately connected to their plight. Granted I despised Edmund Pevensie (Skandar Keynes) and really wanted to see him get a gruesome death. But maybe that’s me. I have a low tolerance for watching films where there’s a bratty, whiny, kid who won’t listen and endangers everyone around him.

Now the rest of his family – his earnest, straight forward older brother Peter (William Moseley) after their father leaves (in the film it’s not explained what happened to father, one assumes he was missing in action, since there is a picture of him in uniform) is forced to grow up early so that he can help his mother out and watch over his brothers and sisters. Susan (Anna Popplewell) is the smart responsible one, and Lucy (Georgie Henley) is the youngest and the “adorable” one.

The family is forced to leave their mother and head to the country to avoid the German bombers. At Professor Kirke’s (Jim Broadbent) Lucy discovers a magical Wardrobe that leads to the mystical world of Narnia where she has a strange encounter. When she returns through the Wardrobe, it’s as if she’s never left.
Time stands still in the real world, so she’s surprised when her siblings don’t immediately believe her story.

Eventually all of the kids find themselves in Narnia where they find themselves in the middle of a war between the good, headed up by a regal lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) and the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton). There are epic battles, talking animals, magic, and more.

Every bit of Narnia’s huge budget (reportedly $150 million) appears on screen, everything from the gorgeous CGI Creatures to the beautiful expansive vistas. The problem with Narnia is that what works, works really well, and there are certain elements that fail. Donald McAlpine’s Cinematography is one of these elements, when it works – which is about 80 percent of the time, it’s glorious, everything is lush, shiny and beautiful. But then there are moments, most of the night/dusk scenes look washed out, bland, and colorless.

I wasn’t sure if they were trying to make a statement between the light and dark side, or if the producers simply ran out of money. Luckily these scenes were few and far between. Narnia felt like it lacked a score, and it was the type of film that really needed a powerful over arching soundtrack.

At times, it’s hard to believe Narnia is directed by Andrew Adamson the man who is responsible for the Shrek movies. If you are expecting a humorous family adventure, you are out of luck, Narnia is serious fare from beginning to end, with not a chuckle in sight, and that’s a good thing.

Adamson treats C.S. Lewis’ work with kid gloves and takes it very seriously. He pulled together a stellar cast, and gets strong performances from all the kids in the film. The pacing is even throughout. The large scale battle sequences for the most part work well.

The problem I have with Narnia is I’m just not a talking animal movie person. No matter how brilliantly done they are, there’s something about watching a beaver or lion or horse talk that immediately ruins the effect for me.

Despite my bias, Narnia works and works extremely well for this non-CS Lewis reader, and it accomplished it’s mission of making me want to pick up some of his books.

Final Grade B

EM Review by
Michelle Alexandria
Originally Posted 12/09/05

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