THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE
THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!
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Young Lucy Pevenise, along with her older brothers Edmund and Peter, and her older sister, Susan, are in London during the initial bombing raids of WW II. And like many families of the time, the parents decide to send them to the country for safer keeping. Peter, the oldest, is told by their mother to "watch over them" and make sure they stay safe. And although this seems like a fairly simple request, Peter’s ability to protect his siblings will be put to the ultimate test. But not by WW II, but by an amazing secret discovered by young Lucy.
Soon after being spirited into the company of a hermit-like professor’s care (Jim Broadbent), they decide to play hide-and-seek, and it’s during this game which Lucy discovers a mysterious wardrobe. She tucks herself inside and backs to the rear of the cabinet ...only to discover herself in an entirely different world. Here she meets up with Mr. Tumnus, a strange half-stag, half-human creature who explains much about the wintry landscape Lucy now finds herself in. The place is called Narnia, and it’s been locked in winter for over 100 years by someone known as "The White Witch" (who claims to be the Queen of Narnia).
Lucy, excited beyond words, rushes back to "the real world" to tell her brothers and sister about what she’s discovered and, of course, they don’t believe her ...until they all get into the wardrobe one day and find out she’s been telling the truth.
Soon a prophecy is revealed to the two brothers and two sisters: it is said that when Aslan returns, two daughters of Eve and two sons of Adam will come back and reclaim the four thrones of Narnia. But first they have to battle The White Witch, struggle with the internal dynamics of sibling rivalries, and face the death of the very creature who helped create this strange world.
Comparisons abound between NARNIA and THE LORD OF THE RINGS. And why not. Both are fantasy tales. Both authors (Lewis and Tolkien) were friends during the same era. And both stories have recently made it to the silver screen. And although my heart still rests with THE LORD OF THE RINGS, NARNIA deserves much praise.
But this praise doesn’t necessarily come from me...
I went to the theater today (a weekend) and it was packed with children (ranging in age from their teens to five years old), and while watching it I noticed something intriguing: not a single interruption occurred during the entire 140 minutes. No crying child asking to go home; no temper tantrums; no shushing of mothers and fathers to their kids. I think this speaks pretty highly of how engaged this film kept its intended audience. I will say that when Aslan became "injured" there were gasps of dismay from a couple of kids behind me and they quietly asked their mother if "Aslan was going to be okay" (I have to admit, that was pretty cute).
Georgie Henley (Lucy) was exquisite as one of the prime characters (move over Dakota Fanning). Her acting was spot-on and brought a lump to my throat several times. Liam Neeson’s Aslan voice was also perfect with its deep resonance that seemed to echo through the theater (must’ve been a good sound recording). Tilda Swinton was also excellent as the sinister White Witch who rules Narnia with a cold, iron fist. And James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus was also pulled off very well.
There’ve been several reviews (professional) that have been critical of the film’s Christian-based theological leanings. Well ...yes. That’s true. It does have that, but so did C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles novels. So did this bother me? Not at all. I don’t prescribe to any particular faith, and if you go into NARNIA with an anti-religious chip on your shoulder, I’m sure you could rip the film apart. But if you go into the theater strictly to enjoy good storytelling and for entertainment, you’ll probably delight in NARNIA just as much as the ten-year-old who sat quietly behind me throughout the entire movie.
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