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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 Erik Childress

"The Passion Of The Neeson"
3 stars

Jumping off the successes of The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the continuing Harry Potter series, it was inevitable that someone was going to get around to greenlighting C.S. Lewis’ well-known collection of Narnia stories. It’s fantastical tales of a magical land beset by the forces of evil and the struggles of the righteous have been popular reading for over 50 years; beloved by children and revered by Christian analysts for its parallels to another well-read collection of stories. I always wanted to read the books, buying nearly all of them at my grade school’s annual book fair before the Pick-a-Path titles occupied my attention. I’m sure at that age I would have been as enraptured as the next child. My whimsy for childhood adventures still resides within and, admittedly, for a good portion of the film version I was along for the journey with eyes (mostly) open enjoying the exploits of Narnia the way most enact their hobbies – as passable time-killers. But the longer it went on, the less it satisfied my sense of wonder and eventually took on the more overt metaphors of one of my ongoing classes at Queen of the Rosary. Hint: It wasn’t English or Reading.

In the first of the seven chapters of Lewis’ work (second chronologically) , air raids are ravaging London during the Second World War and the Pevensie children are sent away to the country to find a more serene shelter in the home of “The Professor” (Jim Broadbent), a shut-in workaholic whose work is never made apparent. Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell) are the eldest siblings doing their best to substitute for their father away in the war to the younger Lucy (Georgie Henley) and selfish Edmund (Skandar Keynes). During a game of Hide-and-Seek, Lucy comes across a barren room of the house; barren to nothing but a covered up wardrobe which holds more than just a collection of furs big enough to spin the screws of a PETA cardholder.

Through the wardrobe, Lucy comes across the wintery wonderland that is Narnia and the faun, Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy). Just as she is bedazzled to meet a half-goat, half-man, Goatboy is amazed to learn that the existence of humans is not just a myth and invites her back for tea. I don’t know if Stranger Danger ever applied to half-naked Goatfolk, but there’s a lesson here to be learned once his intentions turn out to be less than honorable. After a stretch of disbelief, the other children find their way through the looking glass and become embroiled in the dangers that Narnia has to offer. Seems The White Witch (Tilda Swinton) has ensnared the land under her spells and fears the prophecy that four humans will one day arrive to sit upon the convenient four thrones of Cair Paravel. Since she looks like she’s lived in a fridge all her life, I suspect her consistent winter is little more than a ploy against those who mock her inability to tan. Death to the humans and a Medusa-like fate for everyone else who crosses her path. The Pevensie’s must grow up sooner than later and engage in a war for the great lion, Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson in his 68th mentoring role) to restore peace to the land.

Pretty simple stuff really at the heart of it all. Can you think of any kid who didn’t whisk themselves away into one fantasy world or another to be the great leader or fearless warrior who saves the day and becomes a hero? I was one of those kids and I’m sure you were too. So why did I begin trailing off just as the adventure was starting to define itself? Maybe because it was all so familiar or perhaps there was a fundamental challenge absent from how it evolved. Something felt hollow though; like the absence of joy being lifted from their existence in the country (which is more boring than dreary) or the irony that war and struggle will follow generations no matter where they may exist. Any of this would have helped to subside a cameo from Father Christmas. Yes kids, its Santa and you’ll liable to rethink the term of “packin’” when you see the weaponry gifted upon the children to aid them in the life-and-death struggle that’s brooding. Makes you wonder whether or not Jean Shepherd found inspiration in Lewis’ text or if, like me, viewed it as one of the oddest things ever conceived in a children’s fantasy.

Having not familiarized myself with the concerns of Narnia’s pro-Catholic propaganda, I wondered what the big hubbub was about during the adaptation. Outside of the early references to the “sons of Adam” and “daughters of Eve”, it felt rather innocuous or the filmmakers had found a way to tone it down. The reality or myths of the Christian-based philosophy have been prime fodder for stories of fantasy for centuries. We can see the manifestations of them in the sagas of Star Wars and The Matrix which served not to berate us with obvious metaphors but to recognize the similarities which could later enhance our appreciation for both the films and the stories from which they sprang inspiration. God, Satan and the Judas’ who love themselves are bound to make their presence felt in any clash of good vs. evil. Edmond turns out to be the latter, overcome not by thirty pieces of silver but by Turkish Delights (which, in no way, involves a visit to a Narnian bathhouse.) And that’s all well and good as Joseph Campbell might agree. About two-thirds of the way through Narnia though, we aren’t just dipping our toes into the water of religiosity, we’re overcome with the force of Hurricane Katrina.

Asking anyone to believe in the absence of fact is the core requisite of faith; whether it be aliens, God or Santa Claus. Last year’s Polar Express expressed the latter without alienating the non-believers. The same can’t be felt when the offer of a self-sacrifice turns into such a spectacle we’re thankful that Mel Gibson isn’t at the helm of this martyrdom. There’s the slow walk to death, the humiliation and mutilation of the subject while onlookers ask “why doesn’t he fight back?” It stops the film cold in its tracks with its egregious similarities but also because we have not arisen to the meaning of this surrender, not to mention being very hard to bask in the selflessness and tragedy of sacrifice when anyone can be revived with magic potion. Without our investment into the grand scheme, the sequence comes off as just pandering that no one will be able to separate from the final walk of Christ up to and including his resurrection and the obvious wink to the famous Footprints poem. It’s like creating a 2005 space opera with a hero named Juke Dietalker.

By the end of Narnia, I felt like I was retaught a lesson I had long since learned instead of living the dream of a new discovery. While the special effects are quite superb and Swinton’s performance lends more credibility to the treachery then the acute peril the kids routinely find themselves in, I’m going to remember them less and more about what could have made the film great. War is shown as so terrifyingly grim in the opening scene, but a more glorious spectacle of color and victory during the climactic battle and the kids act accordingly, seemingly forgetting all about dear ol’ dad that they so missed back where their neighborhood was getting strafed by air raids. You do have to love the strategy of the Narnian commander who, despite having an army of centaurs who all look like The Rock, announces he will “send the dwarfs in first.” Suitable in that there are clearly no small metaphors, only small movies about those metaphors.

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originally posted: 12/09/05 16:04:10
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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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