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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 19.19%
Average: 25.58%
Pretty Bad: 15.7%
Total Crap: 12.21%

7 reviews, 130 user ratings

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Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The
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by EricDSnider

"A rather impersonal Christian allegory, with a neato lion."
3 stars

It's ironic that "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" could brim with religious allegory, yet turn out to be just as soulless as its secular blockbuster counterparts. It's gorgeous and amazing, sure -- every penny of the $150 million they spent on this thing is there on the screen -- but money can't buy emotional connection, and that's what it needs so badly.

Based on the first volume in C.S. Lewis' acclaimed series of fantasy novels, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is about four children who find that the wardrobe in the countryside mansion they're staying in is a portal to another land. The land is Narnia, and it has recently been in a state of everlasting winter -- always winter but never Christmas, we're told -- due to the evil influence of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton), an ice-cold despot who has claimed unrighteous dominion over the land and turns to stone all who oppose her.

The first child to discover Narnia is little Lucy (Georgie Henley), who befriends a polite faun named Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy). Lucy's brother, a disobedient scowler named Edmund (Skandar Keynes), wanders into Narnia next and is enchanted by the White Witch, who promises him all manner of treats if he will do her the simple favor of bringing himself and his three siblings to her castle when next he returns. (So she can kill them. But she doesn't tell him that.)

Their older siblings, Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell), function as the family's parents while their father is fighting World War II and their mother is back in London enduring the Blitz. They are skeptical of a foreign land being located in the back of a closet, but kindly old Professor Kirke (Jim Broadbent), whose mansion it is, helps them see the wisdom in believing what Lucy has to tell them.

At any rate, all four are soon in Narnia, where a friendly pair of beavers (voices of Ray Winstone and Dawn French) fill them (and us) in on Narnia's history. There's all that business with the White Witch, sure, but there's also the matter of Aslan, a righteous lion who is expected to arrive soon, dethrone the witch, and restore order and balance to Narnia.

Upon the first mention of Aslan's name, the camera pans across the faces of the four children, all with beatific looks, like neophytes hearing about the miracles of Jesus for the first time. Why, just the NAME "Aslan" sounds magnificent to them.

Except for Edmund, that is. While Peter the good son is the very model of angelic Aryan wholesomeness -- fair skin, light hair, blue eyes -- Edmund the bad son has darker features and freckles. He is unimpressed when he hears of Aslan. His loyalties lie with the White Witch.

It eventually befalls all four to aid the creatures of Narnia -- which include regular animals and mythical beasts like centaurs -- in their fight against the White Witch's armies. Aslan does arrive, of course, with the calming voice of Liam Neeson, and a series of events ensues that will seem familiar in its basic outline to all who have studied the New Testament.

The film was directed by Andrew Adamson, who has made an impressive jump from the computer-animated "Shrek" films to "Narnia," which is a mix of live action and realistic-looking computer animation. (You can barely tell that Aslan is not, in fact, a real talking lion.) The screenplay adaptation is credited to Adamson and three others, and it is mostly faithful to Lewis' book. (One interesting mistake: Edmund tells the White Witch that the beavers "said something about the Stone Table," which is true -- except that the beavers mentioned it after Edmund had already left. In the book, he was still present for that conversation.)

But the film fails to bring with it any emotional significance. Some of the action is exciting, but I never had the sensation of actually CARING about the people involved. Part of the problem is that the main characters are played by children, who are notoriously hard to get heartfelt performances from. It doesn't help that Peter is painted as blandly saintly, Edmund is generically misguided, and Susan barely registers at all. Only Lucy elicits a response, and even that is just the "aww, how adorable!" you feel for ANY cute kid in a movie.

The film is over two hours, and most of that is devoted to plot. There are no scenes where the characters stop and reflect on their plight or their mission so far, and that's a shame. In the "Lord of the Rings" films (to cite something similar to "Narnia"), those were the segments that helped bond the characters to each other, and us to them, thus giving the whole affair some weight and depth.

Rather awkwardly, the movie lurches to its finale, set on a battlefield where Peter and the White Witch clumsily swing swords that are obviously too heavy for them. (Realistic, I suppose, given her dainty frame and his inexperience with warfare, but kind of funny to watch.) Next thing you know, the kids are adults, and then they leave the wardrobe and they're kids again, and it all makes sense in the book, but in the movie, what the H?

Also what the H: Santa Claus shows up? And gives everybody WEAPONS?!

It may be possible to create a film version of "Narnia" worthy of the book's reputation and belovedness. But this one isn't it. This comes off as an uninspired fantasy bonanza, no more compelling than your average episode of "Xena: Warrior Princess."

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originally posted: 12/09/05 11:27:12
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell good if a bit harsh 4 stars
4/15/16 zhtiybvviry USA 3 stars
8/29/12 Alex Figueroa Just great! 4 stars
2/15/12 Ron Larson wonderful movies! Don't waste your time on Harry Potter crap. 5 stars
1/22/11 Shawn E Loved it! Couldn't wait for the sequels. 5 stars
2/17/10 The Calico Critic, Laura Hartness Not the best movie, but certainly the best iteration of Narnian movies over the decades. 4 stars
2/06/09 Brian lots of ripped off scenes from other movies badly recreated. badly choreographed fight scen 1 stars
1/17/09 Aesop Filmmaking magic at its finest. 5 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. a good story and good family film. i liked the books too :] 4 stars
9/18/08 hung kwow best movie ever 5 stars
9/12/08 Kathy ter Plugg Salvages much charm from CSLewis's pseudoChristian gobbledygook, but sequel all downhill. 4 stars
8/25/08 Vince not bad, quite interesting during the battle scene 5 stars
5/17/08 Prestle Dull and boring 2 stars
5/06/08 Mike It felt like poorly disguised allegory. Motivations were not fleshed out. 2 stars
3/02/08 Pamela White stunning effects but ho hum human performances 3 stars
10/20/07 Pauline Burns It was great! Loved the JESUS theme in it. 4 stars
7/11/07 Hello Stranger narnia isn't expanded enough. doesn't make you believe like LOTR enough. 2 stars
7/04/07 Trust Extremely dull, obviously an under 12 kids film but still, too hollow 2 stars
6/28/07 moncutter i like it but whenevr the wolf and aslan roar i jumped out of my seat. i must've look funny 5 stars
4/19/07 Stevo UK Good god, this suck arse. A 12 year old leading an army that nobody dies in. thats it. 1 stars
4/15/07 ella steer i love the film to bits and are watching it every second of my life georgie henley is cool! 5 stars
4/12/07 n it was really funny when Mrs. beaver was taking somf food for them when they were in danger 4 stars
3/12/07 jeanne Those children were so ANNOYING, I was rooting for Tilda! 2 stars
1/09/07 bob is it ok to shit in narnia?? 1 stars
12/04/06 Anthony G Dragon, unimaginative? Sorry, but that's just retarded. 4 stars
11/30/06 christina zacarias good for a family movie 4 stars
11/17/06 Christina McNay The whole point is it is a family movie, it is for KIDS!!! Not sum complex thing! 5 stars
8/09/06 Dragon The Artist Dull& unimaginitive, &it tried too hard to be the next big film.I never like the story. 2 stars
8/09/06 David Cohen Okay, it's x-tian propaganda, if that doesn't bother you its not bad 4 stars
8/02/06 CHRISTIE IT IS COOL! 5 stars
8/01/06 emily it was brillitant it was also probably the best 1 day i would like 2 meet the 4 children 5 stars
7/30/06 Scotty Faithful to the book; Great make-up and special effects! 5 stars
7/13/06 EZ It's pretty good but I hate British kids trying to act 4 stars
7/01/06 Emily This was one of the best movies I have ever seen!! 5 stars
6/30/06 George I partyed 24 hours when this boring shit finished 1 stars
6/19/06 Brooke Clayton i think it was absolutley excellent. 5 stars
6/11/06 Billy A must see for thickheads 1 stars
6/03/06 matt good effects, but poor storytelling 3 stars
5/28/06 Alex amazing, realy original 5 stars
5/06/06 john smith I liked it, so there... 4 stars
5/05/06 Cuenzie Wunzie Book was good. Movie sucks 1 stars
4/27/06 Farron Watson Beautiful and majestic. True to the original work. 5 stars
4/27/06 belinda william lover i love the movie it made me cry and laugh and william moseley is hot!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
4/25/06 Kirk Hrabrich If you like your moives with underdeveloped plot lines, characters - it's a must see! 2 stars
4/21/06 Jack What the hell?! 1 stars
4/19/06 Annie G Great adaptation of the book. Great acting from the 2 younger kids! 4 stars
4/17/06 R.W.Welch It's no Wiz of Oz but has solid acting and impressive effects. 4 stars
4/13/06 quiet_but_angry @ xanga disappointing- the trailer was far better than the movie 2 stars
4/10/06 TonyF They deliberately mimicked cinematography from LOTR. Butt-itchingly boring. 2 stars
4/06/06 Jennel i thought that Peter (William Moseley) was hot! 5 stars
4/04/06 Twyla Hakensone 5 stars
4/03/06 JRE just blah. stuck to the book, but wasn't entertaining at all 3 stars
3/26/06 Quigley Aslan is what will make this an instant classic; he was powerful. incredible movie 5 stars
3/24/06 mike good effects -total nonsense i loved it 4 stars
3/13/06 Roderick Cromar Almost great. But why were the children allowed to wear fur coats? 4 stars
3/03/06 sbpat21 I kinda walked out 2 stars
2/27/06 Steven Lewis Not a religious going person but I did like the story. 3 stars
2/18/06 linda gebauer wonderful, magnificent scenery 5 stars
2/10/06 Vic Did the childhood classic novel complete justice. I loved it. 5 stars
2/04/06 Michele love the story 4 stars
1/30/06 angela mae catbagan very awesome 5 stars
1/26/06 Sean Hartlieb Simply imaginative and spritually inspiring 5 stars
1/25/06 hooper loop just plain average, too many boring bits, little girl nice acting 3 stars
1/22/06 Anus 3 little motherfuckers swing swords a bit and become rulers. The real fighters become nil. 1 stars
1/22/06 Anthony Feor Burn this movie along with the books cause this just ruined it all 1 stars
1/21/06 jake it's a great movie 3 stars
1/21/06 Quigley the movie is aimed for younger people, sure, but the image of Aslan is still so powerful 5 stars
1/18/06 thejames best part is the end, when the girl kills guy with arrow. hillarious. 2 stars
1/17/06 kr a movie with great effects and great story , good verses evil and good always wins 4 stars
1/13/06 Perry Mason seemed like a made-for-tv fantasy "epic" with decent special FX. 3 stars
1/10/06 chris. disney: thanks for shitting on my childhood memories. brings sappiness to a great story. 2 stars
1/09/06 bob This is an average movie. 3 stars
1/09/06 Eden Nothing really stands out apart from Swinton's excellent White Witch 3 stars
1/06/06 Littlepurch Loved the beavers! Comical and likeable. But whole film great. The queen rules! 5 stars
1/03/06 Marek Pokorny Awesome - The reviewer forgot this is a young teen film 5 stars
1/02/06 malcolm much better than i expected, not corny, childish or overtly religious 4 stars
1/02/06 too-much-coffee mistress color-by-numbers adaptation, lacks the emotional punch of the original material. 3 stars
1/01/06 Quigley this was amazing. powerfully moving (Aslan) & impressive (Aslan). you people are heartless 5 stars
12/31/05 joy dull 1 stars
12/30/05 James Great CGI; poor storyline; hard to stay awake 2 stars
12/30/05 VenusxMantrap I loved it so much, I had to remind myself to breathe at times. 5 stars
12/29/05 Dada Faithful to the book; cool FX; well done! 5 stars
12/28/05 Sara Turner Excellent movie, both in special effects and story line. 5 stars
12/28/05 bullit16 Lord of the Rings Lite. Still fun to watch. Read the book. 4 stars
12/27/05 Henry Beckwith Viewing this movie is the equivalent to eating cardboard. 1 stars
12/27/05 kaz magical childrens movie for the whole family 5 stars
12/27/05 Suzz one of the worst films I've ever seen 1 stars
12/27/05 jimena congratulations 1 stars
12/27/05 G WTF? this is what happens when you take a PG-13 book and make a PG movie 3 stars
12/26/05 Katrina Graham An utter disappointment that almost made me wonder what I ever saw in the books. 1 stars
12/24/05 DM A bit too much like LOTR. A good movie (Swinton is great), but it's missing something. 4 stars
12/24/05 MF Great movie 5 stars
12/24/05 Quigley the CG effects, the story and the characters (Aslan) will become immortal in movie history 5 stars
12/23/05 john wow, sensitive, beautiful, texture fine, lovely 5 stars
12/20/05 ugh really wanted it to be good, but you gotta be 8 to find it anything but boring 2 stars
12/20/05 Anal Sub-standard Lord of the Rings wannabe rip-off. Ass-lan 1 stars
12/20/05 John Ellis This movie was great...forget any critics who tell you otherwise 5 stars
12/20/05 Meeeeeeeeeeee This film was bloody awesome 5 stars
12/20/05 M. BOOORING! What's with the queen's costumes? Crap! 1 stars
12/19/05 I wanna dos it my self giggle giggle what movie 1 stars
12/18/05 meme I love this movie 5 stars
12/18/05 Nay It was great and don't even try to compare it the the absolute shite that is Harry Potter 5 stars
12/17/05 captain craig better than Harry Potter mand MUCH better the the lord of the Rings 4 stars
12/16/05 Quigley incredible visuals, amazing cast, and good score. but see this film for one thing: Aslan. 5 stars
12/15/05 Jason I loved it! 5 stars
12/15/05 Lowtax Crap CGI. Go watch King Kong instead. Or just download this, watch and delete 1 stars
12/15/05 Cunt Hypocritical christian propaganda 1 stars
12/15/05 Flounder Pure Poop!!! 3 stars
12/15/05 Kata I don't know what you were thinking, but this movie had a lot of emotion! 5 stars
12/15/05 Brian One of the best movies I have ever seen! You people are morons! 5 stars
12/14/05 Corinne I kept waiting for the excitement to step up. Thought it was very slow. 3 stars
12/13/05 Angel Valentine It was bland and boring at best. I wasted my money. 3 stars
12/13/05 scotch Great casting (Tilda rocks!) & visuals. Same old tired theology, but now with talking beave 4 stars
12/12/05 David Poe Tell us when you get around to reviewing the film, the MST3k impression sucks. 4 stars
12/12/05 Jonathon Holmes Eh, it's OK. Skip this and see "Goblet of Fire" 3 stars
12/12/05 Butterbean Watch it for Tilda's White Witch. Otherwise, it's silly and St. Nick gives kids weapons. 3 stars
12/11/05 Whiteshaft Eh. Just OK. 3 stars
12/11/05 othree Suprisingly good cast flawless efx restricting PGrating long true 2 CSLewis 4 stars
12/11/05 Titus Wow, that was a disappointment. Superficial, poorly acted, and just somehow creepy. Ick. 2 stars
12/11/05 Lord Jiggy Get over your PC anti-Christianity. Wonderfully done film, uplifting even. 5 stars
12/10/05 Kevin Murray Great book; bad movie; worse review. Pro-Catholic propoganda from a Protestant? 3 stars
12/10/05 Wolf I laughed, I cried, it was even true to the book. 5 stars
12/10/05 Flounder Starts off wonderfully, but quickly becomes heavy-handed, wooden and dull. Disappointing. 3 stars
12/08/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble The rich kids wear fur. They Rock!!!!! 5 stars
12/04/05 Ray Decent 4 stars
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  09-Dec-2005 (PG)
  DVD: 12-Dec-2006



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