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'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' Review *** 020706
The Work = ***
Because of those memories 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' the movie had a bit of an uphill battle with me. After all, how could this big budgeted, studio flic’ compete with my warm and fuzzy childhood memories? The answer: pretty well. I must admit to being pleasantly surprised with 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe'. The film is a solid adaptation with skilled direction and fine performances from the actors. I enjoyed the film from beginning to end and if it didn’t capture those warm fuzzies of my youth that I remembered, well, I can’t really blame it.
For right or wrong, 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' comes in at a pretty hard PG rating and those of you with young children who are easily frightened might want to be aware that there are some genuinely tense moments. The violence is not up to the level of say 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy but it is not far behind. In fact, this film feels like it used the 'Ring’s films as a sort of blueprint. The similarity gives the movie solid pacing and a rousing battle filled finale. That also means that 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' didn’t feel quite as engaging as it probably should in the scenes that were the closest to the Peter Jackson helmed flics’.
Still, everything works well. Everything that is, except for the visual effects. I cannot remember seeing a film filled with a greater contradiction in the effects presentation than 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe'. Some shots look flawless, others look like there simply wasn’t enough money to go around (which may be the real reason for the differences.) While this never really hurt my enjoyment of the film, it was very noticeable and in some cases almost to the point of distraction.
'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' is directed by Andrew Adamson and he shows he can direct live action films as well as computer animated ones. (His previous credits were the two 'Shrek' films.) His work in animation as well as his previous work in the visual effects departments of films probably helped him pull very good performances out of actors that were working opposite blank screens and effects that would be added later. The child actors are especially good and it is amazing to me that Adamson and Jackson are able to get such strong work, often from little known performers, while say George Lucas often managed to pull wooden performances from well known actors in his recent 'Star Wars' films. Alright that’s more harsh than I meant it to sound, still, it is a pretty interesting comparison.
There was some media attention paid to the Christian symbolism present in 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe'. All I can say to that is it is there, I noticed it and it made no difference to me one way or the other. This film is certainly not the first to have Christian themed symbolism and messages in it and for those that are interested they are present and will probably satisfy that audience. This is an easy film to recommend, enjoyable from beginning to end, with fine performances and some nice visual effects. There are some scary bits that might scare young’ins so parents might want to be aware. 'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe' makes a strong beginning to what will no doubt be a long film series (I can hear the studio execs giggling with delight at the sight of another successful franchise.) I am curios to see if the sequels will be as strong and successful as this film. Recommended.
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