on March 27, 2016
If you were a kid in the 90's who saw the old BBC version and loved it... but knew even then that it could have been done a little better (like maybe a version where Aslan isn't obviously wheeled into a scene) THIS IS FOR YOU! It made me relive everything I imagined as a 10 year old. BEST MOVIE EVER.
If you're going to bring a beloved classic to life, you had better do it right - and director Andrew Adamson did just that, largely because of his own special memories of reading the book as a child. The timing for this film was also right - not only because it follows in the wake of the masterful Lord of the Rings series (and there will always be comparisons between Narnia and LOTR, despite their vast differences) but, more importantly, because this film really could not have been made any earlier. I wasn't a big fan of CGI when the technology emerged; I thought it took away from the purity of the medium and, of course, it was oftentimes obviously not real in those early days. When you watch The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, though, you see the undeniable magic that CGI has now opened up. This film is heavy with computer animation, and its integration with real actors and sets is virtually seamless. Aslan, by way of example, may well be CGI's highest achievement to date. For one thing, he looks bloody real in every scene, but what is truly amazing is the depth of feeling and emotion that comes through in his face and gestures, particularly during the scene at the Stone Slab.
There's really far more to praise about this film than I have time or room for. I'll just say the cinematography and music are masterful, and the creation of the different creatures (be they computer-generated or wonders of costuming) are incredibly detailed and realistic. I just want to hurry up and talk about the children playing the Pevensie siblings. Do they give awards for best casting? If they don't, they certainly should, and this film would take that prize hands-down. They boys (William Moseley as Peter and Skandar Keynes as Edmund) are excellent, but the girls are nothing short of perfect. There's just something about Anna Popplewell (Susan) that I find blissfully charming. Her character is basically the smart and careful one of the bunch, and Popplewell just radiates nobility and a maturity beyond her years. Young Georgie Henley, though, takes the proverbial cake as little Lucy. I tend to think of this story as Lucy's for the most part. It is she who first takes us into Narnia, and we see that enchanted land primarily through her eyes. Aslan is the central character, but Lucy is really the audience's link to everything that happens. I think you can experience Narnia just by watching Lucy - the childish wonder, the joy of the land's magic, and the heart-breaking sadness of the White Witch's most evil deeds. If you listen to the children's commentary on the DVD, though, you'll be even more impressed with these kids. Georgie is the quintessential child, a fountain of unbridled energy and unabashed honesty, but she also asks the director some incredibly insightful questions about some of his directorial decisions. All of these kids are smart as a whip, but that Georgie truly is something special.
I'm assuming you already know the story here, so I won't go into plot details. What makes the story resonate so deeply is the myriad of interpretations you can take away from it. Clearly, there's a strong Christian allegory at work here, primarily in terms of Aslan, the rightful king of Narnia, but you don't have to view the story in that way at all - although the moral implications of this classic contest between good and evil are obvious and beneficial to all. Your interpretation, in fact, may very well change with each viewing. Children can just enjoy it as an adventure with talking animals, but as they come back to the film over time they will begin to pick up on the deeper meanings of the story. This is one of those rare films that gets better and better with each viewing.
You have to love the bonus features on the two-disc collector's edition. We're talking hours and hours of behind-the-scenes footage and insights into the whole Narnia experience (and a few bloopers). I really love the Kids and Director Commentary, and I would heartily encourage you to watch that. Filmmaker commentary (and there's one of those here, as well) tend to be rather boring. I got more out of the Kids Commentary than I would normally get out of ten filmmaker commentaries. You also have the option of watching the film with interesting facts about Narnia popping up from time to time. If you really want to know how in the world this incredible movie was brought to life, you'll relish Disc 2 and its hours of interviews and film prep featurettes on the casting, design, costuming, creature-making, etc. You can also find really nice information on the different creatures you'll meet in Narnia - and you can even explore Narnia's most important locations and hear a little more about what happens in Narnia after the story of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe ends. The Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition of this movie is truly the complete package - and a must for Narnia fans.
on December 5, 2006
I saw this movie 10 times in the theatre! I really feel that it is really breathtaking and superbly done. The most important thing that was achieved is that the producers of this film captured the essence of Narnia. You really feel like you've been to Narnia and to me that makes the film tremendously powerful. The death and resurrection of Aslan were really fantastic, and I also especially liked the Lucy/Tumnus meeting and also when the children grew up in Narnia and were looking for the White Stag. How did they get adult actors who looked SO much like the children, I'd like to know?! Well done! Georgie Henley was terrific in this movie and really stole the show. She was the perfect Lucy. The casting for this film was really well done. The only character I did not care for was The White Witch. In other movie versions, perhaps the role is "over-played" and so because of that the role seemed to be "under-played" in this case. I don't know if a happy medium exists to be truthful. The producers did maintain the Christian symbolism, that C.S. Lewis called "a supposal" not an allegory, but this was not overly obvious. The film certainly can be appreciated in different ways.
Some of the minor changes to the storyline and dialogue did irritate me, just because I know the novel SO well. I would have liked more of Lewis' humour to be maintained instead of the humour that was added by the screenwriters. Most noticeably is the absence of the development of Mrs. Beaver with her cute statements about the bread knife & sewing machine. They also removed the scene in which the animals were having a party with food & drink given to them by Father Christmas - you know the part where the witch turns them into stone. Instead they developed the fox character and used him alone in this altered scenerio. I felt some of the dialogue & scene changes were a little unnecessary from a purist's perspective. Some of the scenes also seemed rushed to me and I would have liked to see the hideout "for beavers in bad times". I know, they had a time limit and actually the movie is over 2 hours which is longer than most movies. What they did with the time they had was really really well done. Hopefully we'll get some of these "deleted scenes" on the dvd.
As someone else mentioned, there is a surprise 30 seconds into the credits that you will not want to miss.
Some parents have expressed concern about the violence quotient, but I went into the movie with a 7-year old in mind and I think it will be okay for MOST younger children. There are the battle scenes and they show one person being killed with an arrow. However, they never dwell long on the battle and no blood is shown. The other part that is disturbing is the part with Tumnus in the dungeon and the implication is that he was tortured. That was rather upsetting and of course Aslan being killed was also very scary. But, they have presented these tastefully & sensitively. Actually the previews for other Disney films were more scary than the main attraction! :-)
My overall impression - EXCELLENT and I hope they make all 7 books into movies.
Note: As a teacher of the deaf I always check to make sure dvd's are closed captioned and this one is both cc and subtitled. Occasionally captions get left off a dvd and I think that's probably what happened with the the other reviewer's purchase. Anyway, if you're reading this, I hope you will get another copy and see if it works for you.
on June 9, 2014
I purchased this DVD for my 5 year old daughter and was a little concerned that the content might be frightening. There is in fact one scene near the end that I would fast forward the first few times, but my girl has been watching this movie twice a week for a month and now dreams of becoming a great archer. C.S. Lewis wrote the series with a very high-minded moral Christian mission, and this may appeal to an audience that might otherwise dislike fantasy. On the other hand, Lewis carries out his mission with a light hand that should offend no one, regardless of beliefs. It's an epic film for children and beautifully executed. The 2nd film, Prince Caspian, is very dark and too frightening, and the 3rd film, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is very good as well.
World War II is raging, bombs are falling on London, and children are being evacuated to the safety of the country. The four Pevensie children, Peter, Edmond, Susan, and Lucy, are sent to live in a big house owned by an old professor. One day they discover an old wardrobe in the attic that just happens to be the portal to the magical kingdom of Narnia. There, it is always winter, but never Christmas, thanks to the evil White Witch. Opposing her is King Aslan, mighty lion and defender of all that is good. The children must gather all their courage as they prepare for the final battle between the two sides.
Almost everyone and everything we see is CGI, which is stunning. The four children are natural and convincing. The first half of the story is a bit slow but the huge finale is worth the wait. CGI Aslan is such a sympathetic creature that there were few dry eyes in the theatre during his big scene, and the Christian allegory is quite touching. This is a very satisfying film for Narnia fans of all ages.
on April 18, 2006
I remember the first time that I ever read the chronicles of Narnia. I was so enthralled by them that I had to see the movies that my parents owned. (They were good to.) And as I grew older I still loved them. I was so excited when I heard that the Chronicles of Narnia were finally being remade that I couldn't seem to wait. I must say I wasn't disapointed when it did. The people who made it didn't add anything that didn't really need to be there, (Like what happened in the Lord of the Rings). The acting was great. There were a few things that got to me though. One was the White Whitch. In the book C. S. Lewis described her as a white lady with RED lips. In the movie I think they should have added that little detail instead of going for the frostbite look. And her clothes were supposed to stay WHITE during the whole story. Not change from white to grey. Another thing that kind of bothered me was that she was to soft in her ways. I always saw her as being rather sharp in speaking: not this soft motherly voice. The last thing that really got to me was when Peter was fighting the wolf. I thought tht it could have been a little more longer in killing him. Other than that I thought that it was great! I really recomend it to anyone.
on February 13, 2006
Andrew Adamson has successfully created a believable other-worldly experience in this big-screen adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He has accomplished this with the stunning clarity of Super35mm film along with state-of-the-art CGI's ( and I'm not a fan of CGI's ). We have arrived at a point in the digital revolution where we do not need to suspend our disbelief any longer. Rarely - if ever - do you stop to wonder which creatures are digital and which aren't.
And with the excellent art direction and cinematography, you can't help but be swept away by the verisimilitude of the whole picture.
The performances are superb, with the possible exceptions of Peter and Edmund: they are easily overshadowed by Susan and Lucy. The marked difference between them draws attention to the boy's performances and how they could have been better.
Thematically, the film adheres to the original C.S.Lewis book and uses many of the same passages and dialogue. For filmic purposes, however, fresh scenes with scintillating dialogue were scripted into the storyline.
At once awe-inspiring, thoughtful, action-packed, frightening and moving, this first installment of The Chronicles of Narnia is an ambitious work of art that is pure magic: I know that C.S. Lewis would have approved!
on April 6, 2006
I couldn't believe it! A film of this calibre and in this era of technology and NO CLOSED CAPTIONING or ENGLISH SUBTITLES!!! My wife is hearing impaired, but can't read the lips of animated characters. She was so looking forward to the DVD as she missed much of the dialogue at the theatre where we first saw the movie.
Otherwise - buy it, watch it, meditate on it. A timeless treasure for all ages.
I've never read the original artwork by C.S. Lewis, so my review can by no means assess how true the movie actually is to the original. My kids mildly enjoy this movie and I find it quite interesting. `Narnia' is a good film due to the books and not something that can be credited to the movie's producers. The fantasy and the power of magic that pervades the story might make any child's eyes gleam in admiration and amazement. This needs to be appreciated and makes `Narnia' a nice Christmas movie as well.
The characters are somewhat indifferent, save for little Lucy played by Georgie Henley. The remaining three siblings -- Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Peter (William Moseley), and Susan (Anna Popplewell) also done a good job as well but their characters wasn't as convincing as Lucy's. The two male actors in particular seem a bit overcharged with the movie's scope. They act decently in a way that would definitely suffice for a movie of lesser dimension. This is probably due to a lack of sophistication in terms of the kids' acting skills. Maybe the casting department should have chosen more experienced actors instead of utter newcomers but they had to start somewhere. I can imagine what a challenge it was to process something as huge as Lewis' `Narnia.' It seems to me that the producers wanted to jam as much input into the story as possible, which hampered the natural development of the plot. How can you expect the two boys being good at fighting with their swords in a huge battle? Why are the main characters rejuvenated when they re-enter the wardrobe? In addition some scenes were indeed very corny and too stereotypical for me - even young kids can expect a bit more. The deep emotions were not really influential, which brings me back to the inexperienced actors. What save `Narnia' was the magic of it all. Talking animals, beautiful landscapes, funny dialogs, themes of redemption and courage - this is something to be appreciated, as it might inspire children and adults alike. The movie is an eye-catcher in terms of wonderful visualizations that does justice to Lewis' perception of `Narnia.'
"The Chronicles of Narnia" is a unique story that had room for improvement, but hopefully they can work at it the second time around. Still, with intense battle scenes, menacing encounters with the witch and her minions, and the seemingly fatal injuries suffered by major characters, it seems to me that this film pushes its PG rating to the limits but who am I to judge.
on February 19, 2006
At first when I heard that Disney was taking charge of the new Chronicles of Narnia movie, I was a little sceptical. However, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the best version, and is an excellent adaption from Lewis's loved novel.
Firstly, the plot remains close to the book, with only a few changes, which do not take away from the overall story. The actors do an amazing job of portraying the four children, Lucy, Susan, Peter, and Edmund. Also, the White Witch is a beautiful, yet frightning character, portraying pure evil perfectly. The voices for the characters of the beavers and Aslan, etc. fit well. And while the animals are digitalized (and you can tell), the effect actually works, and it's not cheesy. It is a smoothly edited movie, with no noticeable continuity errors.
The music was excellently composed for the movie. It all fits, and each piece suits each scene (when Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus for the first time, the battle, etc.). The soundtrack can stand alone or with the movie.
If you are a huge fan of the books, this is a must-see. For those who haven't read the books, and are not familiar with the story, you can still see the movie and understand everything. It is so much better than BBC's adaptations of a few chosen books. The whole movie just works. Warning though, they beefed up the drama in the movie, which leads to some parts that will make you jump!
I highly recommend the movie (and soundtrack for that matter), happy viewing!