Seeing the success of the Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings franchises, Disney tries to create a bankable series of its own. Therefore, they decided to buy the right to another beloved children’s book series: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. And this Christmas holiday, we have the first movie in theatres — The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wordrobe.
I wanted to see this movie mainly because ever since The Lord of the Rings trilogy ended, there has been really no epic that we can truly feel excited about. Troy was a diappointing attempt to attract the Gladiator fans and female audience with big names, specifically, hunks. Even The Kingdom of Heaven by Ridley Scott (director of Gladiator) could not live up to its expectation (Perhaps Mr. Bloom is not up to the challenge of a leading role?). Of course, Narnia is kiddie stuff. But the element of fantasy is very attractive to me. Without reading the books and finding out too much about the series, I went into the theatre and explore the magical world of Narnia for the first time, just like our heroes in the movie.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe follows the advanture of four Pevensie siblings — Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter — in World War II England. They were relocated to the home of an elderly professor. As they tried to forget the horror of the war by playing a game of hide-and-seek, they came across a mysterious wardrobe that led them into another world inhabited by talking animals, fauns, centaurs and cyclops called Narnia.
They later found out that Narnia had been under the control of the White Witch, who placed the world under eternal winter. And the prophecy stated that "Two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve" would overthrow the witch and restore the kingdom of Narnia to its original beautiful state. Thus, with the guidance of the noble lion Aslan, the four children fought to overcome the White Witch’s hold over Narnia…
If this story sounds familiar, that could be due to the fact that it’s a good old story of Good vs. Evil, or because there are many biblical analogies in the movie. Now, I’m not a Christian, and I can tell you that you don’t need to be able to recite the Bible to appreciate the movie. I liked it as a nicely done fantastic advature.
A noteworthy leading actress was Georgie Henley, who played Lucy, the yongest Pevensie child. Considering she was only eight when this movie was filmed, her performance brighten up the screen. The way she delivered her lines with emotions and her genuine facial expression made me forget that she was merely a child acress playing a character (Dare I say she did a better job than the Harry Potter bunch? ). Actually, my firend, who thought the movie was just okay because it was too childish for her taste, only liked cute Lucy beside the magnificant Aslan.
Another impressive performance was given by the evil White Witch, played by Tilda Swinton. When we met her for the first time, we knew she’s up to something. The mystery around her made her role more effective. She was more terrifying when she spoke calmly, when she was simply staring at the children while clenching her fists and teeth. Her evil was partially hidden, and I loved that about her performance.
Aslan the lion was another character that was created entirely by computers. As real as he appeared, you just can tell no living lion can look like that. But that’s okay. Hey, it’s a fantasy after all. He’s supposed to look like an extraordinary lion. His voice was done by Liam Neeson, who successfully brought out the gentleness and dignity in the character. While Aslan’s relationship with the children was convincing, the bond between Lucy and Mr. Tummus the faun was moving. Lucy’s innocence was a source of courage throughout the story. This made her the most likable character in the film.
The director Andrew Adamson had only directed two other films before, which were the top-grossing animated movies Shrek and Shrek 2. And it’s safe to say that Adamson knows how to make a fairy tale magical. Of course, the credit goes to C.S. Lewis who created the whole world of Narnia. But Adamson told the story in a way that left us wanting more. And as the story movies along, I grew to love the characters and therefore rooted for them, worried when they were in danger, and cheered for their triumph.
The special effect was not as incredible as The Lord of the Rings, because the creatures looked, well, computer-generated under the bright daylight, which was probably not real, either. The battle scences may not be as awesome. But it’s more believable because it seemed less planned. Peter was swinging his might sword laborously when he faced off against the White Witch, who had just injured his brother. Tiny things like this made the war more real. However, keep in mind that this is a Disney movie. So don’t expect any bloody fighting sequence and get ready for a lesson in friendship, courage, and the importance of family.
Narnia was an escape from the cruelty of WWII for the Pevensies, and it was an escape from reality for the rest of us, for the duration of the movie’s 140 running time. It’s so fun that I hoped the children could stay there forever. A little boy in the audience said it the best when he saw the children exploring the wardrobe cautiously: "Just get in the closet (wardrobe)!"
- Georgie Henley’s reaction to the Narnia forest is genuine. She had never seen the set before shooting the scence. She was so excited about seeing the set that the director blindfolded her and carried her on set, then started to film.
- K.N.B. EFX Group Inc. was the company responsible for film’s special effects. The company’s previous credits include Sin City (which I’ve always wanted to see) and Kill Bill Vol. 1,2.
- ALL PHOTOS © WALT DISNEY PICTURES