The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

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Narni-Narni-hoo-hoo! The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (2005)

Dec 13, 2005 (Updated Dec 13, 2005)
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Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Enchanting, spellbinding, great CGI effects, Aslan kicks ass.

Cons:May be a bit violent for the younger viewers.

The Bottom Line: The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe doesn't fit on any movie ticket stub that I've seen.


I gotta admit, 2005 hasn't been the greatest year for movies. I find myself going maybe twice a month these days, where it used to a weekly ritual bordering on religious.

But if this year had to end on any note, it might as well be The Chronicles Of Narnia.

The release of this film adaptation (based on the C.S. Lewis novel) is well-timed (deliberately) to coincide with not just Christmas, but (accidentally) one of the most frigid Decembers we've seen in a while. That being the case, you might be reminded a wee bit too much of real life while watching it. On the other hand, this juxtaposition of real-life conditions with those of Narnia may serve to draw you in all the more.

Because really, Narnia has become a cooold place. Poor souls have been stuck on winter for the last 100 years, thanks to the reign of the White Witch.

Meanwhile, back in the real world where Narnia's story begins, we have a disarming opening scene of bombings happening right on a peaceful neighborhood. Welcome to World War II, folks. It isn't long before the children are shipped away to stay somewhere safer until the thing blows over.

And that's how our four children -- Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy -- come to live with Professor Kirke, whose house (one closet in particular) doubles as a portal to the magical realm of Narnia. Why this is, who really knows, but it doesn't matter. Because the story itself is rooted in Narnia. It's all just a matter of getting there.

So as not to move the story along too briskly, we have a little squabble amongst the kids, since Lucy has found the portal first, and the others don't believe her about it. The first half hour you might say is somewhat of a dragfest, except for the enchanting music played by self-conscious "man-deer" Mr. Tumnus, Lucy's first friend inside the kingdom of Narnia.

Plenty more friends will be made by our fantastic little four when they do arrive, including a couple of comical beavers who reveal that there has been a prophecy. The prophecy says that the arrival of the four children would signal the downfall of the White Witch.

I almost want to say "Stop me if you've heard this before."

But there is far more to this film than a prophecy, a war and all that hulabaloo. We got talking animals, swords and daggers, healing potions, seasons that change in the blink of an eye, and .. are you ready for this? A crucifixion.

Religious connotations come and go in the film like they're a dime a dozen, and you don't exactly have to be a zealot to pick up on them. Not that I found it to be any huge problem. One of our local critics around here stopped only inches short of just flat out calling this film "The Passion Of The Christ 2". While I wouldn't go that far myself, I would advise you to be mindful of the fact that just because this film is rated PG doesn't make it a Barney-fest. Narnia serves up a fairly generous portion of violence, for which I myself wouldn't take a kid under the age of 6 or 7, if that.

Azlan, the Lion and King of Narnia, is the character to keep an eye out for, but you'll already know that 'cause of all the hype characters throw around about him up until you finally do meet him (which feels awfully late). Still, his character will more than likely rock your socks off no matter how old you are. Tack on Liam Neeson playing his voice and now you're talkin' about Jedi Lion here. Although I suspect Liam is not doing the roaring.

As far as acting goes, don't expect to be blown away. In the end, our fantastic little four get the job done as well as anyone can expect from relative "strangers". In my recent discovery of TV shows, I have come to think that 2 hours, 4 hours even, is just not enough time to get to really know anybody. There are some movies that pull it off, but it's a real miracle if/when they do. In Narnia, we are given four of the most normal children imaginable, which when I picture it any other way, it just wouldn't be the same.

The children are just young enough that it wouldn't be "right" to expose them to anything too drastic or extreme. In the event that things do get extreme (such as with a certain frozen river), you almost have to "shut down" and remind yourself that it isn't really happening. Still, that's only a slight detraction from what is really an exciting and spellbinding adventure.

The CGI effects are outstanding as usual; it's harder to get away with it when you have to apply it selectively, as opposed to doing the whole thing in CGI a la Pixar. The blend is seamless, and quite a bit more than a stone's throw from Lucky's lip syncing in Dr. Doolittle a mere decade ago. One shot of a castle right at the end of the film had me almost feeling the breeze in my face.

So it all boils down to two things. One, Do you believe in magic? Two, Do you have kids? If you answered "Yes" to either of the two questions, you got yourself a reason to go get Narnessed!

Although I find that I sound pretty harsh overall, I was pretty well "taken away" with Narnia in the end. Entonces, I give it 3.5 stars and round on up to 4.


Recommend this product? Yes

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