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

Disney's 2005 adaptation of C.S. Lewis' children's fantasy novel.

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The Lion's Roar.

  • Dec 13, 2005
Rating:
+5
I need to preface this review by saying that I am a huge fan of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. In fact, they are my favorite books of all time. C.S. Lewis is my favorite author--I've read a wide variety of his works (including some essays he wrote about 17th century English literature) and, in my opinion, the man was not capable of bad writing. I remember when I was about 11-12 years old and after a terrible argument in my family, I tried repeatedly over and over and over to get away from it all and go to Narnia by traveling through a forgotten closet in the house. When I was about 18 along with a rough draft of a screenplay for THE HOBBIT, I also started writing a screenplay for THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE.

My petty attempts at bringing the work to life could not even be compared to the live action version of the story that now exists. There is so much about the film that is well done. The acting, the images, the effects, the dialogue, etc.

The movie does an excellent job of setting up the plot. For the first five or so minutes of the film the audience isn't greeted by the happy faces of children chatting with fauns or eating supper with cheery beavers. Instead, the movie opens with the Battle of Brittain raging over London and Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter Pevensie being rushed out of their home and into a bomb shelter by their mother. Worried for the life of her children, she ships them off far into the country to live with a gentle, erudite professor (this whole opening sequence would be a great clip to show during a WWII history lesson).

One day while playing hide and seek in the huge manor, young Lucy gets lost in the wardrobe she is hiding in and finds herself transported to the magical land of Narnia. There she meets the faun Mr. Tumnus and almost immediately becomes friends. After spending the evening at Mr. Tumnus' home, Lucy returns back through the wardrobe door only to discover that she hasn't been missing at all. The wardrobe is searched, but it seems to be just a plain, beautifully ornate wardrobe.

Eventually, however, the truth is revealed and Lucy and all her siblings are transported to Narnia. Edmund, who traveled to Narnia before with Lucy, is captured by the evil White Witch Jadis. To save their brother, the siblings rush to meet the King of the World, Aslan and learn along the way that they are a part of a long-fortold prophecy that is coming true. What follows is a mad dash through a melting winterland, a sacrifice of grandest proportions, and an epic battle led by a teenage king.

The visuals in the movie are absolutely stunning. The colors chosen for the creatures who follow Aslan and those who fight under Jadis couldn't be more perfectly matched. The movie follows the plot of the book fairly accurately (there are some dramatic liberties taken and a few things left out--but this is a movie, not a book) without taking anything away from the essence of Lewis' story. Many of the creatures were created either through CGI or good old costume-animatronics and due to the nature of the story, there isn't a ton of dialogue acting. Still, at the heart of the story are the children and Aslan and they come off wonderfully. Liam Neeson is the voice of Aslan and though he sounds different than what Aslan sounds in my head, I think the choice was well made. The children are the true stars of the movie and the standout of the four is Georgie Henley as Lucy. Her reactions are perfect and the relationship between Lucy and Mr. Tumnus (as played by James McAvoy) is especially well done.

There have been many comparisons made between this film and Peter Jackson's version of THE LORD OF THE RINGS. I've heard some say that this is like a child's version of those movies. The same comparisons were being made between Tolkien and Lewis when their stories were published (except people said that THE LORD OF THE RINGS is like an adult THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE). One cannot deny that if THE LORD OF THE RINGS films had never been made and weren't successful, THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE would never have been made into a live action feature film. However, because of the success of The Ring, we can now have all the Chronicles of Narnia on screen, too. Yes, WETA helped make some of the costumes and parts of the movie were filmed in New Zealand. However, despite these similarities, the movies are totally different films. THE LORD OF THE RINGS is a 9-hour epic told in three parts. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA are a series of 7 separate, yet connected tales all about the same place. TLotR films are very violent with a lot of black orc blood and violent images. LION doesn't have much of that though there are a few (actually, I would have liked to have seen the battles been more graphic--true fairy tales aren't afraid to tell and show the evil and darkness that abounds). Finally, Tolkien was adamant throughout his life that his story was not like Lewis'. On the other hand, Lewis, though he was frank about the stories not being allegories, did say that there were allegorical elements to them. These elements are still preserved in the movie and bring about some of the more powerful moments in the film.

Overall, THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE is an excellent adaptation of C.S.Lewis' beloved opening book of the Chronicles of Narnia. Very young children might be afraid at some moments (though the bright colors might distract them enough not to do so), but for anyone else in the family this movie is highly recommended--unless you don't like fantasy or spirituality.

The special 2-disc DVD collection is filled with over 10 hours of extra features. There are commentaries with the director, Andrew Adamson, and the four children who portray the Pevensie children as well as commentary with some Adamson and some of his production crew; there are bloopers; there are several featurettes, including a brief documentary about C.S. Lewis; as well as many other extras. One extra I enjoyed particulary was the "Legends In Time" feature. This little ditty is basically a comparison of the time in Narnia and how it compares with time in our world. I found it to be quite clever. The Special Edition DVD of THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE is a fan's delight.

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More The Chronicles of Narnia: The ... reviews
review by . December 19, 2010
I was never really into the Chronicles of Narnia books as a kid, but when this came out back in 2005, I was genuinely excited to see it. Boy, was I not disappointed. Not only do the special effects work, but the performances work, the action works, everything just works, and it makes this franchise the only fantasy franchise that has even been able to stand its ground against Harry Potter. I have yet to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but you can expect a review of Prince Caspian coming soon.   …
Quick Tip by . October 07, 2010
There isn't a weak moment in the film at all. I have never really cared for the Narnia stuff but the movie does a great job of being moral without being moralistic.
review by . December 27, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
After a horrid BBC adaptation of C.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe does a decent job of bringing the first book to life. The Pevensie kids were generally well cast, and Georgie Henley as young Lucy steals the show. James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus is also very good. The film provides a visual feast, from snowy mountains to fauns and minotaurs. Harry Gregson-Williams' moving soundtrack provides an epic backdrop for the action.   &n …
review by . February 11, 2009
DVD
World War II is raging, bombs are falling on London, and children are being evacuated to the countryside for safety.  The four Pevensie children 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 …
review by . December 19, 2008
Entering Narnia
"Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen. Bear it well, Sons of Adam! Bear it well, Daughters of Eve!"  -Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis      When it was announced that Disney had bought the rights to C.S. Lewis' Narnia series, I have to admit that I was worried. Walt Disney Studios haven't always been known to produce faithful adaptations of books (example: The Black Cauldron). But in late …
review by . April 29, 2009
I went to this movie expecting to be bored by talking animals and child stuff and was surprised by the quality of this well made film that grabs you from the start. Four children living in WW II London are sent to live in the countryside by their mother to protect them from the frequent air raids. They end up in a mansion on a huge estate. The mansion has one room with nothing in it but an armoir. The children use it to hide and are accidently transported to a fantasy world with talking animals …
review by . April 14, 2006
CS Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia may very well have been a book intended for children but it was also the result of a life through the Great Wars and the effects those wars had one the individual. Gratefully in Andrew Adamson's directorial hands that part of the story that lends the need for the fantasy is preserved.    The concept of separating children from their parents during the Blitz in London in WW II is now showing up in many novels. Lewis was one of the first to address …
review by . April 09, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" presents the C.S. Lewis fantasy classic very well. (The story takes place during World War II in England where Lucy, the youngest of four siblings [Peter, Edmund, and Susan] stumbles upon a magical kingdom named Narnia in the back of a wardrobe of a professor's mansion while playing hide-and-go-seek.) The children find themselves in a world of animals, fauns, and other mythical beasts who are captive to a witch's spell casting a perennial …
review by . April 06, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
NOTE: The comments which follow are on the special two-disc Collector's Edition, available with subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.    The film is based on and seems remarkably faithful to the C.S. Lewis classic, the second in a series of seven novels. Here's the basic situation. Four siblings are relocated from their London home to a country estate to be with an eccentric uncle, Professor Kirke, during the "Blitz." While playing a game of hide-and-seek, Lucy hides in …
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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a 2005 epic fantasy film directed by Andrew Adamson based on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first published and second chronological novel in C. S. Lewis's children's fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia. It was produced by Walden Media and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes play Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund, four British children evacuated during the Blitz to the countryside, who find a wardrobe that leads to the fantasy world of Narnia. There they ally with the Lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) against the forces of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton).

It was released on December 9, 2005 in both Europe and North America to positive reviews and was highly successful at the box office. It won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Make Up and various other awards, and is the first film in the series of films based on the books. An Extended Edition was released on December 12, 2006 and was only made available on DVD until January 31, 2007 when it was discontinued. It was the best selling DVD in North America in 2006 taking in $332.7 million that year. It aired on Disney Channel, uninterrupted by commercials, on June 19, 2009. On ABC Family the film is presented in its extended version whereas other channels present it in its theatrical version. In 2008 it was followed by a sequel Prince

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