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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 Mel Valentin

"Slick visuals, solid performances, but otherwise lacking magic."
3 stars

Based on the first book in C.S. Lewis' classic children's fantasy series (chronologically the second book), "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is a lavishly produced big-budget adaptation of what's hoped to be a profitable, long-running franchise similar to the "Harry Potter" series and the recently completed "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, but with a younger demographic in mind. C.S. Lewis, a medieval scholar, novelist, and late convert to Christianity, infused his fictional works with Christian symbolism, allegory, and themes. His fantasy novels continue to captivate young readers, however, not because of the pro-Christian apologetics he hoped to impart, but simply because young readers continue to enjoy Lewis' straightforward, myth-based storytelling and sympathetic characters. Despite several (for some, one too many) heavy-handed moments, the same holds for the big-screen adaptation of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

Set during the opening years of the Second World War, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe centers on the four Pevensie siblings, Peter (William Moseley), the oldest and the natural leader, Susan (Anna Popplewell), the second oldest, Edmund (Skandar Keynes), the resentful, younger brother, and Lucy (Georgie Henley), the youngest of the four and the most adventurous. The Pevensies are sent to live with an elderly professor in the countryside, where their mother hopes they'll be safe from the nightly air raids by the Germans. Wandering through the large, unexplored house, Lucy finds a wardrobe at the end of an empty, sunlight room. Curiosity gets the better of Lucy and she slips into the wardrobe. The wardrobe, of course, serves as a portal between their world and Narnia, a fantastical winter world of witches, talking animals, dwarves, and other magical creatures.

Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy), a half-man/half-goat who befriends Lucy and invites her over to his home a cup of tea. After returning to our world, she happily shares her experiences in Narnia with her siblings, who disbelieve her. Curious about Lucy's story, Edmund follows her one night into the wardrobe. He crosses over into Narnia and encounters Jadis, the White Witch (Tilda Swinton). She’s also the Queen of Narnia. After a misadventure in the “real” world, the four children enter the wardrobe simultaneously. There, they meet Mr. Beaver (voiced by Ray Winstone) and Mrs. Beaver (Dawn French), who fill them in on the White Witch, her authoritarian rule over Narnia, and the return of Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson), a talking lion and legendary leader. Aslan’s has returned to Narnia to overturn the White Witch’s rule, but he needs help, the Pevensies’ help.

The children ultimately decide to meet Aslan at the gathering place for Aslan's forces, the Stone Table, but Edmund disappears before they can begin their journey. The White Witch, however, has sent Maugrim (Michael Madsen), a talking wolf and the leader of Jadis' Secret Police, to track down the children. Eventually, Peter, Susan, and Lucy find their way to the Stone Table and meet Aslan. Edmund remains separated from his siblings (he has adventures of his own, tied to the reason behind his disappearance). The children, Aslan, and his supporters prepare for the final battle for the future of Narnia. One major reversal follows, including one particularly heartbreaking scene (at least for those unfamiliar with the source material), casting doubt on whether the children can help save Narnia from the White Witch’s continuing rule.

In writing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis borrowed heavily from the New Testament resurrection story. Although sacrifice, death, and resurrection are closely linked with the central beliefs of Christianity, Christianity doesn't have a monopoly on these mythic concepts (other religious traditions share them as well). The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe's politics are anything but progressive, from the central premise of ordinary characters discovering fantastical, heroic destinies, to the thinly veiled admiration of feudalism (replacing authoritarian monarchs with benevolent ones), to the disappointing passivity of the two female characters doing the climactic battle (they're left behind illogically to “witness” the central miracle), and finally, to cheapening the final triumph over the villain by re-inserting a presumably fallen character. Both sides of the political spectrum can agree, however, with the generally inoffensive depiction of the Pevensies and their collective journey from distrust and resentment to reciprocity and reconciliation (lessons usually associated with children's fantasy fiction).

In addition, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe suffers from pacing problems, spending too much time in World War II England early in the film and spending insufficient time developing Aslan as a character and his relationship with the children. The children's worshipful relationship with Aslan happens almost instantaneously, making their unquestioning obedience and loyalty difficult to accept. Then there’s the awkward relationship between Mr. Tumnus and Lucy. Lucy’s openly naïve trust of the significantly older Mr. Tumnus and his intentions seems unwise, not to mention raise a questioning eyebrow or two from contemporary (read: jaded) audiences prone to seeing adult/child relationships between non-relatives as inappropriate. Effects wise, Aslan may be the closest digital animation has come to photorealism, but he still falls short, believability wise. A better route would have been a combination of animatronics and CGI (for the medium or long shots). And for those viewers left cold by the seemingly interminable battles between CGI armies found in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, they can expect more of the same here.

Given that "The Chronicles of Narnia" was filmed partly in New Zealand, comparisons to Jackson’s "Rings" trilogy are inevitable (as will the phrase “Jackson-lite”). Although the director, Andrew Adamson ("Shrek," "Shrek II") sought to distinguish "The Chronicles of Narnia" through set design and location shooting, Adamson indulges in Jackson-like sweeping panoramic shots, overhead crane shots, and all the high-end digital animation that money can buy, especially during the (predictably) epic battle scene that closes the film. Adamson and Disney also decided to use Jackson’s Weta Workshop to provide creature, armor, and weapon designs. Alas, the overly familiar creature designs readily invite viewers to make additional (perhaps one too many) comparisons between "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" and Jackson’s "Rings" trilogy. The comparison is likely to be unfavorable, although Adamson deserves credit for keeping a tight rein on the running time. Children and their parents, however, will be more than pleased with the first of what promises to be another fantasy franchise.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=13650&reviewer=402
originally posted: 12/23/05 14:17:37
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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
5/05/08 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 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
12/24/05 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 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
12/03/05 Ray Decent 4 stars
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  09-Dec-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 12-Dec-2006



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