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Overall Rating
3.34

Awesome27.33%
Worth A Look: 19.19%
Just Average: 25.58%
Pretty Crappy: 15.7%
Sucks: 12.21%

7 reviews, 130 user ratings


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Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The
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by David Cornelius

"Well, the wardrobe was interesting. One out of three ain't bad."
2 stars

Among the first words of any proper review of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” you should find mention of “The Lord of the Rings.” It’s all too obvious that Disney is looking to capture some of that fantasy franchise magic; perhaps upset that Miramax let “Rings” slip away to New Line years back, the studio now looks to Tolkien’s friend C.S. Lewis as inspiration for its own series with built-in fans and a guaranteed box office haul. So convinced is everyone involved that they’ve got the makings of the Next Big Thing that they’ve even bothered to clunky up the title of the first movie, adding “The Chronicles of Narnia” to an already overlong title, just so us regular folk can figure out that this is just the beginning.

Oh, and just for luck, I suppose, Disney and Walden Media (the film’s main producer) opted to film the whole thing in New Zealand. A bit of Jackson envy, I suppose.

To be fair, calling “Narnia” a complete “Rings” rip-off would not be entirely accurate - aside from the occasional slo-mo shot and a giant chain mail-covered battle scene in the final act that’s obviously been inspired by the earlier trilogy, the story and the movie are decidedly different than anything in the “Rings” universe. “Narnia” is, in fact, mostly a quaint fairy tale, loaded with cute children, talking animals, and the random satyr.

It’s been far too long since I’ve read “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” the first and most famous of Lewis’ Narnia novels, so I’m not sure if the parts in the movie that put me off are the fault of Lewis or the screenwriters. Whoever’s to blame, the story just doesn’t work. Oh, it begins just fine - quite wonderfully, in fact, as four lonely siblings discover that a hidden wardrobe in a spare room is in fact the gateway to the magical snow-covered kingdom of Narnia. This first half is, for the most part, a delight, with the discoveries of a new world winning us over. But then the story takes an odd left turn, with the introduction of a major war and the inclusion of the children in that war. The transition from enchanted fairy land to medieval battle ground is strained at best.

Ultimately, the story is too lazy. There’s an embarrassing bit in the middle of it all in which the last character you’d ever expect to cameo here pops by to all-too-loudly deliver the main characters with weapons (because hey, giving kids sharp objects and telling them to get ready for war is fun!) as well as the world’s worst deus ex machina (you’ll know it when you see it, because for the rest of the movie you’ll be busy waiting for it to be brought out for use - only the one time when she’s about to use it, she doesn’t, for no explicable reason,* but I’ve complained about this long enough, even going into a nasty run-on sentence to do it, but yeah, that’s how much I hated this bit). Long story short (too late), this cameo had me laughing at a point in the film where I wasn’t supposed to be laughing.

The final bulk of the story involves the war, in which the eldest brother is declared to be ready to lead the forces of good. Never mind that nobody ever bothers to explain why or how this kid’s ready to lead, or why or how he instantly becomes capable to lead, or why or how nobody stops to think about how unpleasant it is to see children getting all geeked up for war that’d make Braveheart jealous. (Sure, it’s a bloodless battle, but still.)

So that’s the story. As for the movie, I compliment it on being a competent production. The computer effects are convincing, the acting is serviceable, the art direction and costume design impressive, the casting of the hauntingly beautiful Tilda Swinton as the White Witch is inspired (even if her mediocre character is not). But the movie lacks heart, lacks soul. Director/co-writer Andrew Adamson (making his live action debut after helming the “Shrek” movies) is so busy delivering a straightforward adaptation of Lewis’ writings that the whole film becomes an empty, by-the-numbers fantasy. Things happen here, but there’s no impact, no emotional connect. It’s just a matter of “oooh, look at that giant army! oooh, look at that talking beaver!” Even someone like myself, who thought they were flawed works, knew that the “Rings” films hit a deep emotional chord, with thoughts on our actions, our feelings, our world, our connection with others, with nature. The same can be said of “Star Wars;” sure, there are shallow points in that franchise, but overall, the mythology takes deep personal root in the viewer. In “Narnia,” however, there’s nothing to feel. It’s all too simplistic to ever take hold.

Consider the supposed sincere mentorship from a lion named Aslan, who is supposed to be this awe-inspiring figure of good, but is in reality just a dull cat with Liam Neeson’s voice that exists merely as a plot device with fur. After being talked up so much in the movie’s first half, his grand entrance should be this momentous moment. Instead, it’s just a cat walking out of a tent. Pretty much sums up the character right there: an uninspiring Simba who’s only the movie’s hero because we’re told he is, an uninteresting kitty who arrives just so he can weakly shove one bit of Christian allegory down our throats.

Ah, yes. There are some overly obvious metaphors here (although it can be argued that it’s not all about Jesus as much as it is general story themes that have survived over countless millennia). But the film rushes through these points so clumsily that the “wow” potential of these scenes go missing. There are things that happen in the film’s final act that are just tossed off with a “well, if they didn’t happen, we’d have no story.” This includes one action that could have (should have?) happened in an earlier scene - one sister tells another not to use that aforementioned deus ex machina, even when it’d would’ve done just fine, just so the same result can happen later without her help - and when what would’ve happened then finally does get around to happening later (we’re quickly tossed a dopey magical excuse, but it doesn’t work), things get frustrating. To have something happen magically just so it can happen magically is a cheap way of getting one’s point across.

Although perhaps this shallowness is the result of a clumsy screenplay that works to squeeze so much story into a marketable running time. There are side characters here that come and go too quickly, seeming like they should be more important than they are. There are explanations that flitter away unsatisfactorily, moments that fail to linger. It’s as if the filmmakers figure that if they can show the main stuff, the magic will arrive by itself. That’s a sloppy way of telling any story, let alone one with such potential for enchantment.

Adamson plays the notes, as the old saying goes, but he doesn’t seem to know the music. “Star Wars” had heart, “Rings” had soul, “Narnia” has talking beavers. And that, on its own, is not enough to make movie magic.

*Since writing this, I have received several emails in which Lewis fans have yelled at me (both politely and not so much) about me not “getting my facts straight.” So if you’ll heed this MAJOR SPOILER WARNING, I’ll quickly explain why I thought what I thought, and why I’m not bothering to actually change what I wrote above. You see, once Santa showed up, my brain pretty much exploded. In trying to clean up the mess around me, I misheard “heal any wound,” interpreting it to mean it’ll bring someone back from the dead, too. So technically, no, it couldn’t be used to resurrect Aslan. Or could it? What killed Aslan? A wound. And hey, that’s powerful juice, so why not let it bring Talking Lion back?

Ah, but then we wouldn’t have the magical moment where he does return to life (the explanation about the Super Magic Table tossed off like we all knew how he sprang back to life, so why bother discussing it?), and Lucy wouldn’t have any left to offer the bajillion injured (not one of ’em dead!) soldiers. Thanks, Santa!

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13650&reviewer=392
originally posted: 12/10/05 12:45:21
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell good if a bit harsh 4 stars
4/14/16 zhtiybvviry USA 3 stars
8/28/12 Alex Figueroa Just great! 4 stars
2/14/12 Ron Larson wonderful movies! Don't waste your time on Harry Potter crap. 5 stars
1/22/11 Shawn E Loved it! Couldn't wait for the sequels. 5 stars
2/16/10 The Calico Critic, Laura Hartness Not the best movie, but certainly the best iteration of Narnian movies over the decades. 4 stars
2/06/09 Brian lots of ripped off scenes from other movies badly recreated. badly choreographed fight scen 1 stars
1/16/09 Aesop Filmmaking magic at its finest. 5 stars
1/12/09 Anonymous. a good story and good family film. i liked the books too :] 4 stars
9/17/08 hung kwow best movie ever 5 stars
9/11/08 Kathy ter Plugg Salvages much charm from CSLewis's pseudoChristian gobbledygook, but sequel all downhill. 4 stars
8/25/08 Vince not bad, quite interesting during the battle scene 5 stars
5/17/08 Prestle Dull and boring 2 stars
5/15/08 PAUL SHORTT A PLEASANT AND SAFE CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY 4 stars
5/05/08 Mike It felt like poorly disguised allegory. Motivations were not fleshed out. 2 stars
3/01/08 Pamela White stunning effects but ho hum human performances 3 stars
10/19/07 Pauline Burns It was great! Loved the JESUS theme in it. 4 stars
7/11/07 Hello Stranger narnia isn't expanded enough. doesn't make you believe like LOTR enough. 2 stars
7/04/07 Trust Extremely dull, obviously an under 12 kids film but still, too hollow 2 stars
6/27/07 moncutter i like it but whenevr the wolf and aslan roar i jumped out of my seat. i must've look funny 5 stars
4/19/07 Stevo UK Good god, this suck arse. A 12 year old leading an army that nobody dies in. thats it. 1 stars
4/14/07 ella steer i love the film to bits and are watching it every second of my life georgie henley is cool! 5 stars
4/11/07 n it was really funny when Mrs. beaver was taking somf food for them when they were in danger 4 stars
3/11/07 jeanne Those children were so ANNOYING, I was rooting for Tilda! 2 stars
1/08/07 bob is it ok to shit in narnia?? 1 stars
12/04/06 Anthony G Dragon, unimaginative? Sorry, but that's just retarded. 4 stars
11/29/06 christina zacarias good for a family movie 4 stars
11/17/06 Christina McNay The whole point is it is a family movie, it is for KIDS!!! Not sum complex thing! 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Dull& unimaginitive, &it tried too hard to be the next big film.I never like the story. 2 stars
8/08/06 David Cohen Okay, it's x-tian propaganda, if that doesn't bother you its not bad 4 stars
8/02/06 CHRISTIE IT IS COOL! 5 stars
8/01/06 emily it was brillitant it was also probably the best 1 day i would like 2 meet the 4 children 5 stars
7/30/06 Scotty Faithful to the book; Great make-up and special effects! 5 stars
7/13/06 EZ It's pretty good but I hate British kids trying to act 4 stars
6/30/06 Emily This was one of the best movies I have ever seen!! 5 stars
6/30/06 George I partyed 24 hours when this boring shit finished 1 stars
6/18/06 Brooke Clayton i think it was absolutley excellent. 5 stars
6/11/06 Billy A must see for thickheads 1 stars
6/02/06 matt good effects, but poor storytelling 3 stars
5/28/06 Alex amazing, realy original 5 stars
5/05/06 john smith I liked it, so there... 4 stars
5/05/06 Cuenzie Wunzie Book was good. Movie sucks 1 stars
4/27/06 Farron Watson Beautiful and majestic. True to the original work. 5 stars
4/26/06 belinda william lover i love the movie it made me cry and laugh and william moseley is hot!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/24/06 Kirk Hrabrich If you like your moives with underdeveloped plot lines, characters - it's a must see! 2 stars
4/21/06 Jack What the hell?! 1 stars
4/18/06 Annie G Great adaptation of the book. Great acting from the 2 younger kids! 4 stars
4/16/06 R.W.Welch It's no Wiz of Oz but has solid acting and impressive effects. 4 stars
4/13/06 quiet_but_angry @ xanga disappointing- the trailer was far better than the movie 2 stars
4/09/06 TonyF They deliberately mimicked cinematography from LOTR. Butt-itchingly boring. 2 stars
4/05/06 Jennel i thought that Peter (William Moseley) was hot! 5 stars
4/04/06 Twyla Hakensone 5 stars
4/02/06 JRE just blah. stuck to the book, but wasn't entertaining at all 3 stars
3/25/06 Quigley Aslan is what will make this an instant classic; he was powerful. incredible movie 5 stars
3/23/06 mike good effects -total nonsense i loved it 4 stars
3/12/06 Roderick Cromar Almost great. But why were the children allowed to wear fur coats? 4 stars
3/02/06 sbpat21 I kinda walked out 2 stars
2/26/06 Steven Lewis Not a religious going person but I did like the story. 3 stars
2/18/06 linda gebauer wonderful, magnificent scenery 5 stars
2/09/06 Vic Did the childhood classic novel complete justice. I loved it. 5 stars
2/03/06 Michele love the story 4 stars
1/29/06 angela mae catbagan very awesome 5 stars
1/25/06 Sean Hartlieb Simply imaginative and spritually inspiring 5 stars
1/25/06 hooper loop just plain average, too many boring bits, little girl nice acting 3 stars
1/22/06 Anus 3 little motherfuckers swing swords a bit and become rulers. The real fighters become nil. 1 stars
1/21/06 Anthony Feor Burn this movie along with the books cause this just ruined it all 1 stars
1/21/06 jake it's a great movie 3 stars
1/21/06 Quigley the movie is aimed for younger people, sure, but the image of Aslan is still so powerful 5 stars
1/17/06 thejames best part is the end, when the girl kills guy with arrow. hillarious. 2 stars
1/16/06 kr a movie with great effects and great story , good verses evil and good always wins 4 stars
1/12/06 Perry Mason seemed like a made-for-tv fantasy "epic" with decent special FX. 3 stars
1/09/06 chris. disney: thanks for shitting on my childhood memories. brings sappiness to a great story. 2 stars
1/08/06 bob This is an average movie. 3 stars
1/08/06 Eden Nothing really stands out apart from Swinton's excellent White Witch 3 stars
1/05/06 Littlepurch Loved the beavers! Comical and likeable. But whole film great. The queen rules! 5 stars
1/03/06 Marek Pokorny Awesome - The reviewer forgot this is a young teen film 5 stars
1/01/06 malcolm much better than i expected, not corny, childish or overtly religious 4 stars
1/01/06 too-much-coffee mistress color-by-numbers adaptation, lacks the emotional punch of the original material. 3 stars
12/31/05 Quigley this was amazing. powerfully moving (Aslan) & impressive (Aslan). you people are heartless 5 stars
12/31/05 joy dull 1 stars
12/30/05 James Great CGI; poor storyline; hard to stay awake 2 stars
12/29/05 VenusxMantrap I loved it so much, I had to remind myself to breathe at times. 5 stars
12/28/05 DARIJA VAN HOUTEN IF YOU LIKE HARRY POTTER, YOU WILL LOVE THIS ONE 5 stars
12/28/05 Dada Faithful to the book; cool FX; well done! 5 stars
12/28/05 Sara Turner Excellent movie, both in special effects and story line. 5 stars
12/28/05 bullit16 Lord of the Rings Lite. Still fun to watch. Read the book. 4 stars
12/27/05 Henry Beckwith Viewing this movie is the equivalent to eating cardboard. 1 stars
12/26/05 kaz magical childrens movie for the whole family 5 stars
12/26/05 Suzz one of the worst films I've ever seen 1 stars
12/26/05 jimena congratulations 1 stars
12/26/05 G WTF? this is what happens when you take a PG-13 book and make a PG movie 3 stars
12/26/05 Katrina Graham An utter disappointment that almost made me wonder what I ever saw in the books. 1 stars
12/25/05 Buttplug HAY GUYS LOTR WAS SO COOL LETS RIP OFF FROM THAT AND PUT IT INTO THIS SHIT MOVIE! 1 stars
12/24/05 DM A bit too much like LOTR. A good movie (Swinton is great), but it's missing something. 4 stars
12/23/05 MF Great movie 5 stars
12/23/05 Quigley the CG effects, the story and the characters (Aslan) will become immortal in movie history 5 stars
12/23/05 john wow, sensitive, beautiful, texture fine, lovely 5 stars
12/20/05 ugh really wanted it to be good, but you gotta be 8 to find it anything but boring 2 stars
12/19/05 Anal Sub-standard Lord of the Rings wannabe rip-off. Ass-lan 1 stars
12/19/05 John Ellis This movie was great...forget any critics who tell you otherwise 5 stars
12/19/05 Meeeeeeeeeeee This film was bloody awesome 5 stars
12/19/05 M. BOOORING! What's with the queen's costumes? Crap! 1 stars
12/19/05 I wanna dos it my self giggle giggle what movie 1 stars
12/17/05 meme I love this movie 5 stars
12/17/05 Nay It was great and don't even try to compare it the the absolute shite that is Harry Potter 5 stars
12/16/05 captain craig better than Harry Potter mand MUCH better the the lord of the Rings 4 stars
12/15/05 Quigley incredible visuals, amazing cast, and good score. but see this film for one thing: Aslan. 5 stars
12/14/05 Jason I loved it! 5 stars
12/14/05 Lowtax Crap CGI. Go watch King Kong instead. Or just download this, watch and delete 1 stars
12/14/05 Cunt Hypocritical christian propaganda 1 stars
12/14/05 Anus THIS IS NOT LORD OF THE RINGS. STOP ACTING LIKE ONE. FUCK JESUS 1 stars
12/14/05 Flounder Pure Poop!!! 3 stars
12/14/05 Kata I don't know what you were thinking, but this movie had a lot of emotion! 5 stars
12/14/05 Brian One of the best movies I have ever seen! You people are morons! 5 stars
12/13/05 Corinne I kept waiting for the excitement to step up. Thought it was very slow. 3 stars
12/12/05 Angel Valentine It was bland and boring at best. I wasted my money. 3 stars
12/12/05 scotch Great casting (Tilda rocks!) & visuals. Same old tired theology, but now with talking beave 4 stars
12/12/05 David Poe Tell us when you get around to reviewing the film, the MST3k impression sucks. 4 stars
12/12/05 Jonathon Holmes Eh, it's OK. Skip this and see "Goblet of Fire" 3 stars
12/11/05 Butterbean Watch it for Tilda's White Witch. Otherwise, it's silly and St. Nick gives kids weapons. 3 stars
12/11/05 Whiteshaft Eh. Just OK. 3 stars
12/11/05 othree Suprisingly good cast flawless efx restricting PGrating long true 2 CSLewis 4 stars
12/10/05 Titus Wow, that was a disappointment. Superficial, poorly acted, and just somehow creepy. Ick. 2 stars
12/10/05 Lord Jiggy Get over your PC anti-Christianity. Wonderfully done film, uplifting even. 5 stars
12/10/05 Kevin Murray Great book; bad movie; worse review. Pro-Catholic propoganda from a Protestant? 3 stars
12/10/05 Wolf I laughed, I cried, it was even true to the book. 5 stars
12/09/05 Flounder Starts off wonderfully, but quickly becomes heavy-handed, wooden and dull. Disappointing. 3 stars
12/07/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble The rich kids wear fur. They Rock!!!!! 5 stars
12/07/05 Cobra Commander IT WAS JUST LIKE I IMAGINED, AS I WAS READING BOOK, ABSOLUTELY AWESOME 5 stars
12/03/05 Ray Decent 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  09-Dec-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 12-Dec-2006

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Dec-2005




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