Reel Reviews

Film Reviews by a Real Person, Not a Critic

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

Title: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Year: 2005
Director: Andrew Adamson
Starring Cast: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Tilda Swinton
Rated: PG

Reel Reviews Rating:

I haven’t read the books, so I will be basing my review completely on the movie. Then again, I would have done so anyway since I don’t think it’s fair to compare film adaptations to the media of origin (e.g. book, play, TV show).

The story focuses on four children who are sent away by their parents for protection during World War II. The children end up living in an old professor’s (Jim Broadbent) home, where they spend their days restless, but also extremely concerned for their parents.

One day while playing Hide and Seek with the others, the youngest child Lucy discovers a beautiful wardrobe in an empty room in a remote corner of the house. She hides in the wardrobe and suddenly finds herself in a whole other world where fantasy creatures such as fauns and unicorns live, and animals talk. Naturally she tells her siblings, and although they disbelieve her at first, they find out for themselves that the magic of the wardrobe is very real. When they get to Narnia, the children find themselves caught in the middle of a war between the armies of the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton), and the armies of Mufasa Aslan, the noble Lion King…er, god (voiced by Liam Neeson).

Although the child actors are relative unknowns, they did a really great job in this film. Skandar Keynes did an especially good job in his portayal of the moody, greedy, and jealous younger brother Edmund. You really hate this kid during the first part of the movie, especially in his treatment of his younger sister, and cheer when misfortune strikes him.

The battle scenes were spectacular. A colleague of mine remarked that it was like the Battle of the Pelennor Fields in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, but with animals and fantasy creatures instead of men. I totally agree with her. The Battle of Pelennor Fields was still way cooler in my opinion, but the battle in Narnia was definitely pretty awesome.

I also loved how the animals were portrayed in the movie. They had so many human personalities that you almost forget they’re animals. For example, when the children meet Mr. Beaver, he takes them to his home. Upon seeing the children, Mrs. Beaver suddenly feels self conscious about her looks. She says something like, “Couldn’t you have given me a 10 minute warning so I could have freshened up a bit?”, while trying to smooth down her fur,much like a woman who nervously smooths her dress when greeting important guests. Aslan the Lion King God was especially done well. The looks of concern and despair in his eyes are so realistic that you forget you’re watching a CGI lion. I was in tears at the end of the crucial scene when he faces the White Witch and her minions.

Although I really enjoyed the movie, one main thing nagged at me the whole time. Yes, I can suspend reality and accept that animals talk, and there are centaurs, hippogriffs, and other funky animals, but I have trouble accepting that these kids who have never held a weapon in their lives suddenly know how to use a bow and arrow or a sword, or that a 15-year old boy can suddenly command an army. Or that the same boy can take down a minotaur that’s 5 times his size. Hell, even the Hobbits couldn’t fight when they first encountered the Ringwraiths.

An interesting thing about The Chronicles of Narnia (not the the film, but the books themselves) is that there are supposedly many allusions to Christianity. Aslan is to represent Jesus Christ himself. Like Jesus who arrived on Earth to save mankind from our sins, Aslan arrives in time to save Narnia and deliver the good from the clutches of evil. It dawned on me that the oldest boy, who becomes one of Aslan’s most trusted knights, is named Peter- like Jesus’s closest and most trusted disciple. I hope though, that something like this doesn’t dissuade nonbelievers from watching the movie, because it’s not like Narnia is meant to be a tool to convert people to Christianity. To be honest, the allusions to Christian ideas are not really very obvious. In fact, as the Wikipedia article I linked mentioned, some argue that Narnia does not share many parallels to Christianity after all.

Regardless of your religion or lack of it, don’t let it influence your decision on watching this film. Enjoy it for what it is- a children’s action and fantasy film great for the whole family.


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January 4, 2006 - Posted by | Action, Adventure, Family, Fantasy, Film Adaptation

23 Comments »

  1. well, I have the read the books, although my hubby has not. But I really want to see the movie and take my 8 year old to see it. thanks for the info, it sounds really good.

    Comment by beth | January 4, 2006 | Reply

  2. Enjoy the movie! Just be aware that there are one or two scenes which may be a little disturbing for a child to watch (such as when Aslan confronts the White Witch at her camp). But if your child has seen the Lord of the Rings trilogy without flinching, then it’s all good πŸ™‚

    Comment by Toni | January 4, 2006 | Reply

  3. My nephews went to see it, both have read the books, and absolutely loved the movie. Hopefully, we will go and see it sometime soon, although not at an IMAX theater. Maybe we would be missing some of the experience, but the truth is that I dislike the size of the screen and the level of the sound. Way too much, imho.

    Do you think you could send your dad to our house? Maybe he could work his magic in our attic. πŸ˜€

    By the way, we have a reviewer at Wild Child, the magazine I edit and own. I think the two of you would have a lot of fun talking about movies, and other things too. πŸ™‚ I say this only because your reviews are very well-written and they remind me of hers. πŸ™‚

    WC

    Comment by wildchild | January 4, 2006 | Reply

  4. Oh, I mean to mention that the tale of Narnia has been around much longer than The Lion King.

    WC

    Comment by wildchild | January 4, 2006 | Reply

  5. Wildchild- I went to an IMAX theater once, and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I think it’s because this particular theater was really small, so the tall screen practically was right up in people’s faces.

    LOL about my dad…I think his roach killing days are over πŸ™‚

    Oh, and about my little remarks about the Lion King…yeah I know Narnia was written waaaay before The Lion King, but I can’t help but find similarities between Mufasa and Aslan.

    Thanks for letting me know about your publishing site!

    Comment by Toni | January 4, 2006 | Reply

  6. Well, Disney is known for a lot of things, not all of them positive. I’ll just leave it at that. πŸ˜€

    I can see that. I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was very young. I loved the book, but never finished the series. Something else caught my attention, although I can’t quite recall what it was. LOL

    Darn! I was so hoping for a roach killer. LOL

    WC

    Comment by Wild Child | January 5, 2006 | Reply

  7. Yeah, not a lot of people are fond of the Disney machine. I went to the Rose Parade this year, and their float was the freaking Disneyland Castle. And of course, Mickey Mouse, Sleeping Beauty, and a bunch of other well known characters were standing on the float waving to everyone. I was like, “Can they go at least once without promoting themselves so blatantly?”

    Perhaps Tolkien’s books caught your attention?

    You can always have your husband walk in your bathroom armed with a pair of shoes πŸ˜€

    Comment by Toni | January 5, 2006 | Reply

  8. It’s weird, I went into Narnia expecting to be blown away, but there was something missing that didn’t take it from “very good” to “excellent”. Visually, it was beautiful…but there was just something missing that didn’t thrill me. My boyfriend agreed, but thinks it’s simply because it was a children’s story, and I was expecting it to be more complex, even though I’ve read the book 500 times.

    Comment by Brooke | January 7, 2006 | Reply

  9. Brooke- I can understand how you feel. It’s tough not to compare a movie to a book you’ve read so many times. You have created images of what the characters look like and what certain scenes look like in your head, and often they don’t compare to what you see in a movie.

    Comment by Toni | January 7, 2006 | Reply

  10. I wanted to dislike the Narnia movie because the fundy Christians like it, even though they’re down on other fantasy like Harry Potter and Dungeons & Dragons. It astounds me that they insist on promoting C.S. Lewis’s Christian agenda, even though Lewis himself said that The Chronicles of Narnia books had less to do with his theology than just providing a good story.

    All that aside, I enjoyed The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe, although it was a little long in places and had a few plot holes.

    You mention the special effects as being very LOTR-like, which they are; after all, Weta did the effects and Weta was developed specifically for Peter Jackson’s projects, so I think of the SFX in Narnia as being Lord of the Rings Lite.

    Comment by Dave | January 10, 2006 | Reply

  11. Dave- I also thought it was odd that “fundy” Christians would rally behind Narnia but be so vehemently against Harry Potter when they both have elements of fantasy. I know that they hate Hatty Potter because the children are wizards and witches, but they seem to accept that a talking lion is Jesus. Go figure.

    Good point on Weta doing the special effects for Narnia. I heard that somewhere, but I couldn’t verify it. Thanks for confirming it.

    Comment by Toni | January 10, 2006 | Reply

  12. I find it immensely hypocritical that they say Harry Potter promotes magic and witchcraft, but are okay with the deep magic of Narnia.

    Hell, the first book that Lewis wrote for the series is titled, The Lion,THE WITCH, & the Wardrobe.

    Hullo!?!?! I’ll take “stupid fundy Christian babbling” for $600, please.

    Comment by Dave | January 10, 2006 | Reply

  13. Then again, the witch in Narnia is evil, as witches are “supposed” to be. Children, a la Harry Potter, aren’t “supposed” to practice witchcraft/wizardry.

    But still! Mr. Tumnus is a faun- a half man, half goat. Isn’t SATAN supposed to look like a goat? Hmmmm…

    Comment by Toni | January 10, 2006 | Reply

  14. Actually, according to the Bible, the only thing it says about Satan’s actual appearance is that he was once a beautiful angel. It mentions nothing as ridiculous as him being half goat. A dragon maybe, but not a goat.

    Comment by Thomas | April 10, 2006 | Reply

  15. while playing hide and seek,before running upstairs lucy is wearing a light colored dress with a floral design then when the camera changes angles, she is in a grey dress.

    Comment by Lol, What name? | June 8, 2006 | Reply

  16. ello?

    Comment by Lol, What name? | June 8, 2006 | Reply

  17. LOL- Thanks for commenting. Just to let you know, I’m no longer writing on this blog. I’ve moved to my own domain at noface4film.com

    Comment by Toni | June 8, 2006 | Reply

  18. Seeing the post about how Lucifer (satan) was described as a beautiful angel before the fall made me think of LOTR. Originally Sauron was a beautiful, angel-like entity before his “fall” as well.

    Why do I bring this up? Well I also find the whole “I love Narnia and LOTR but I hate Harry Potter” hypocritical and tiring at best. The thing is that all of the above stories have magic, all have witches or wizards, all have good and evil magic, All have a Christ-like character who ‘dies’ for a cause (Aslan in Narnia, Gandalf in LOTR and according to how you view the story, Harry’s mother lays down her life for her child (Christ figure! Hello?!) or you could say Harry himself is a Christ figure having had a killing curse placed on him and coming out of it and defeating death).

    The fact is that there is Christian symbolism in all three books and yes, there is more probably in Narnia. There is some discussion now whether he meant to or not. I have always heard it was a direct Christian allegory (and having read it how can you not see the symbolism?) but if he didnt I’m sure his own beliefs and faith formed a lot of how he created the story. Either way, you can find both secular and religious themes in all three. I’m getting pretty sick and tired of everyone getting hung up on the fact that Rowling uses the word witchcraft in her description of Hogwarts. But, hey, let’s be honest, there’s more overt magic going on in LOTR, Gandalf and Sauruman are referred to as wizards, and Sauron controls many of his minions through dark magic, there is also the WITCH KING who is evil, and the elves exhibit healing magic within the story.

    The ones who want to ban HP need to take a step back and think long and hard about their double standards and what they are really fighting against. You cant love one thing and hate another when they are so similar in theme.

    Comment by Jennifer | January 20, 2007 | Reply

  19. Thank you for your insightful comment Jennifer. If you want to read more reviews, please visit my new website at http://www.noface4film.com πŸ™‚

    Comment by Toni | January 22, 2007 | Reply

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