-This review pertains to the original DVD release, not the remastered edition-
In 1990, the final film in the BBC's Narnia series made its debut. The series, which consisted of four films, was based on The Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis and remained very faithful to the source material. However, after having produced the first three films, the budget seems to have shrunk for this, the final installment. And for the first time it hurts the overall quality of the film. The Silver Chair is probably the weakest of the film series mainly because of the shortcuts that the filmmakers were forced to take to accommodate the low budget. Actors who appeared in previous episodes are recast in new roles, special effects are hurried and unconvincing, and the production design seems uninspired. All of this is unfortunate as this film had perhaps the greatest potential as a darker adventure, but overall numerous minor disappointments make this film less satisfying. Still, The Silver Chair is the must-have conclusion to the series and despite its flaws has become a family favorite.
While at their unpleasant boarding school, Eustace and his schoolmate Jill frantically search for a place to hide from school bullies. After asking Aslan for help, Eustace and Jill are magically transported to Narnia, where Aslan has an important mission for them. They are to find and rescue Prince Rilian, King Caspian's son and only heir to the throne of Narnia. Furthermore Aslan also appoints Jill the task of remembering four cryptic signs that will help them on their quest. They are given aid by a talking owl named Glimfeather, who takes them to the Parliament of Owls. There, Eustace and Jill are told of how Rilian's mother was killed by a poisonous serpent, and that Rilian later disappeared while visiting the site of his mother's death. The owls then take the two children to the swamplands where a marsh-wiggle named Puddleglum will serve them as a guide on their epic quest. Puddleglum turns out to be a curmudgeonly pessimist, but an invaluable companion. His knowledge of Narnia's history, geography, and culture and his abundance of survival skills prove to be an under-appreciated asset for Eustace and Jill. On their journeys they have many adventures such as an encounter with a dragon, an attack by savage giants, and they even cross a colossal ancient bridge that spans the distance between two mountains. Also they meet a beautiful traveler who calls herself the Lady of the Green Kirtle, and her escort, a black knight, who neither acknowledges them nor shows his face. The Lady of the Green Kirtle tells the children that they look awfully tired and should take respite at the castle of Harfang, the home of the gentle giants. After she and the knight depart, the children insist on going to Harfang against the advice of Puddleglum, who has a bad feeling about the lady and her motives. It turns out that he was right to. The giants of Harfang are jovial and hospitable, but something about their behavior is off-putting. To their horror, Eustace and Jill discover that the "gentle giants" intend to eat them as part of their autumn feast. Eustace, Jill, and Puddleglum just barely manage to escape, but they do so by taking shelter in a cave, which collapses. After regaining consciousness, they find themselves deep underground in the darkness, in the gloom, in the terrible depths of the Earth. They are taken prisoner by a race of grotesque beings called Under-Earthmen, who are ruled over by a tyrannical queen. They also meet a strange masked man who reveals himself to be the black knight, and they learn from him that queen is none other than the Lady of the Green Kirtle. The knight explains how the queen has been preparing him to lead an army to the over-world, where they intend to defeat the natural leaders of all countries and declare themselves as overlords. The knight also tells them that he suffers a strange enchantment, which drives him mad at night, so he is restrained in a magical silver chair for his own protection. The knight asks Puddleglum and the two children to watch over him in his madness to ensure that he does not escape and he forces them to swear an oath that under no circumstances whatsoever are they to release him from his restraints. But when the time comes, the knight begs and pleads that they set him free. But do they dare defy the malevolent queen and what of the consequences to setting this lunatic free? And most importantly of all will they ever find Prince Rilian and return to their own world?
The Silver Chair features a cast of veteran British actors (most of which American audiences will be unfamiliar with). The cast includes David Thwaites as Eustace, Camilla Power as Jill, Geoffrey Russell as Aged King Caspian, Richard Henders as Prince Rilian, Big Mick as Trumpkin, Warwick Davis as Glimfeather, Tom Baker as Puddleglum, Barbara Kellerman as The Lady of the Green Kirtle / The Queen of the Underworld, and Ronald Pickup as the voice of Aslan. As far as the cast goes, most of the actors are clearly stage performers and unfamiliar with the medium of film, which leads to some pretty hammy, over-projected acting. However, in an odd way this actually suits the story.
Despite its obvious flaws, The Silver Chair is a worthy finale to the series.
The DVD also includes a still gallery and an animated trivia challenge. All three DVDs containing the four Narnia films can be found together in a moneysaving box set, which includes beautiful artwork on the packaging. Also available is a newly remastered box set.