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