The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
The Chronicles of Narnia does indeed capture a certain wondrous, fantastical imagination inspired by C.S. Lewis' literary classics. But the film unfortunately also suffers from Lord of the Rings envy.
Who wouldn't want to discover a magical world inside their own closet? Lewis tapped into this childlike wonderment when he wrote The Lion, the Witch and
the Wardrobe in 1950, his first of seven adventures into Narnia, and the movie picks it right up. Its starts with the four Pevensie siblingsPeter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and little Lucy (Georgie Henley)who are sent from war-torn London to stay in a country home during WWII. Once there, the children stumble upon the enchanted wardrobe that leads them to Narnia, a fairytale realm of mythical proportions. But Narnia has fallen under the icy curse of the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton)and only the two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve can break the spell. Now, with Narnia's rightful leaderthe wise and mystical lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson)by their side, the four children find strength to defeat the witch and lead Narnia into a brand new era. [Cue the sound of trumpets].
After searching long and hard, the casting directors for Narnia found the perfect unknowns to play the four Pevensie children, especially Lucy and Edmund, the two characters who go through the most changes in the story. The sweet-faced Henley has just the right amount of innocence and bravado as Lucy, the first to discover Narnia, who then has to convince her brothers and sister its real. In turn, as the mean-spirited, jealous Edmundwho just wants a little respectKeynes scowls and pouts like a pro. The rest of the Narnia children may be a little stiff but will gain seasoning the more Narnia sequels they do, much like the Harry Potter trio we've grown accustomed to. Of the adults, the always unusual Swinton (Constantine) is one scary broad, adequately chewing it up as the malevolent sorceress, as well as striking a very formidable pose, dressed in highly elaborate costumes. And Liam Neeson adds a nice, calming touch as the voice of the wise Aslan.
It's taken awhile to bring a live-action Narnia to its adoring fansand New Zealand director and co-writer Andrew Adamson (Shrek and Shrek 2) has only his fellow countryman Peter Jackson to thank for finally making it happen. Just as C.S. Lewis was influenced by his friend J.R.R. Tolkein, Adamson is obviously guided by the Lord of the Rings filmmaker. From the great Aslan, to the thousands of mythical creatures, Adamson uses the technological advances set up by the Rings trilogy and creates a real, magical Narnia many of us have only imagined in our heads. It seems the glorious New Zealand can pass as Narnia and Middle-Earth. But in paying homage to all the greatness Jackson achieved with Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia inevitably pales in comparison. You just can't watch the final, drawn out battle between Aslan's army and the Witch's and not measure it up to Rings far more stellar conflicts.
Hollywood.com rated this film 3 stars.