A nod to ‘Narnia’
December 13, 2005
When it comes to C.S. Lewis, I’m more of a “The Screwtape Letters” fan. I’ve never read any of the Chronicles of Narnia, so this review is for those of you who wonder how the movie compares to … nothing.As a fantasy and adventure, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” roars with visual spectacle, lovable and frightening characters and a classic depiction of good versus evil. The Pevensie children travel from war-torn London to a professor’s country house, only to be told they are not to disturb the unseen professor. So they quietly begin a game of hide-and-seek, which takes the youngest Pevensie, Lucy (Georgie Henley) into a room with a huge wardrobe. As she pushes her way past the fur coats in the wardrobe, she suddenly finds herself in the wintery land of Narnia. After escaping a kidnapping plot, she returns, unharmed, to tell her siblings about the adventure.
Of course, they don’t believe her. And when the youngest brother, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) falls into Narnia, he has reason to hide the magical world from his older brother and sister: The White Witch (Tilda Swinton) has promised him princehood and sweets if he lures his siblings into Narnia.Needless to say, the four children escape war in London only to end up in the middle of a battle between the evil White Witch and the Christ figure, a computer-animated lion named Aslan.The movie takes a while to build up, and even when it does, it occasionally drags. Still, the visual effects – from the witch’s ice palace to the costuming – cast an enchanting spell throughout the film.
Mr. and Mrs. Beaver break audiences into the idea of English-speaking forest animals; I don’t think it would have worked quite as well if the big bad wolves abruptly started chatting with the children. The trailer helps, too, warning audiences that there will, indeed, be a predominant Dr. Dolittle factor. And thank God they didn’t try to transform Lewis’ story onto the screen until now. Even with the technology, Aslan comes off a little stiff at times.
But with the exception of a few obviously painted backdrops and awkward animal shots, the fantastic world seems almost real.Child actors carry the film, and they pull it off well. By the end, we see Henley’s limited range of emotion, but for a 10-year-old, that “limited range” stretches far enough. Anna Popplewell and William Moseley do a fair job: Their acting neither stands out nor falters, and Skandar Keynes plays the cunning brother suitably.I suspect the book delves deeper into themes of Christianity, but for a mainstream film, “Narnia” hits the mark for entertainment.