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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 brianorndorf

"Pokey fantasy for kids"
3 stars

A “Lord of the Rings” fantasy extravaganza for younger children, “Chronicles of Narnia” as a motion picture is lacking the depth of the page. The C.S. Lewis franchise is given the royal big screen treatment, complete with non-stop special effects, but there’s a palpable sense of magic missing, along with some coherency toward the end of the film.

Shuffled off to the English countryside for protection during WWII, siblings Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are sent to an isolated mansion to wait out the chaos. During a routine game of hide-and-seek, Lucy finds that an old wardrobe is actually a magical portal to the fantasy land of Narnia, where the evil White Witch, Jadis (a miscast Tilda Swinton), has enslaved the land and citizens in snow and ice. After getting a quick tutorial on the ways of Narnia from two helpful talking beavers (Ray Winstone and Dawn French, both contributing wonderful voicework), the kids are given an important mission: help the powerful lion Aslan (Liam Neeson) restore his former rule, and spread peace back to the land with their newfound heroism.

If it seems suspicious that C.S. Lewis’s beloved “Narnia” stories are hitting the big screen right after the serious coin “Lord of the Rings” and “The Passion of the Christ” raked in just a few years ago, don’t let Disney fool you: they’re not doing this for artistic merit. With a huge fantasy fanbase and the ears of the Christian community, “Narnia” is another exploitable literary franchise looking to satisfy the genre fans that aren’t served up this level of escapism often.

The similarities between the Lewis and Tolkien world are striking, and not as lazy a comparison as it looks. These are both epic tales of good versus evil, populated with diverse creatures and sweeping landscapes, and looking for a way to reintroduce myth back into the popular culture. Their differences appear to be the target market for the adventure: Lewis was aiming for a slightly younger set with his specific area of fantasy. “Narnia” is painted brightly with unicorns, centaurs, talking beasts of assorted colors, and eventually a weapon-dealing Santa Claus (!). Frankly, the film is a pre-teen slumber party come to life. Director Andrew Adamson, making his live action debut after guiding the two CG “Shrek” endeavors, takes Lewis’s narrative very seriously and meticulously details the wonderment of the kids (often at the expense of a snappy pace) as they discover the peril and the potential of their new home. And for that I’m thankful. “Narnia” is widescreen filmmaking for a young audience that is typically ignored, and on that level, the picture is a smashing success. “Narnia” never talks down to kids, and rarely soft-pedals the violence, bending the PG rating to the breaking point where parents of younger children should reconsider bringing the thumbsuckers.

Unfortunately, Adamson finds more trouble in the screenplay (which he co-wrote). Like the theatrical cuts of the “Rings” films, “Narnia” has difficulty assembling a coherent big picture. Much is cleaved away from Lewis’s book to fit the lengthy 140-minute running time, which creates distracting gaps in relationships and the story to make room for the big moments, such as the enormous battle between Jadis and Peter’s armies that climaxes the film. Adamson has a good hold on the central plot (the kids helping Aslan’s return to power), but as the story progresses, more and more characters are lost in the shuffle, along with the organic connective tissue between important events, leaving the last act of the picture a violent mess, and one that’s in a hurry to end. “Narnia” has too many significant narrative elements buzzing about for Adamson to simply skip around the story trying to piece together something digestible. A fable this grand needs to breathe and allow the audience to be welcomed into the fantastical sights and events, and not shoved around when the script gets unwieldy.

The controversial religious overtones to “Narnia” might also blindside some audience members. Adamson is hardly modest with his Christ imagery for Aslan, staging the lion’s ultimate confrontation with Jadis in brutal ways that feel eerily similar to “The Passion of the Christ.” Perhaps this was Lewis’s ultimate agenda for his book, yet the many moments of sacrifice, resurrection, and Judas-like betrayal feel like they’re from another film, and not one with talking beavers (who should have their own film) and fur coat-clad heroes.

Unlike “Rings,” it seems as though “Chronicles of Narnia” should’ve stayed in the hearts and dreams of thoughtful readers who could easily envision a world much grander and consistent than what Adamson has splayed across the screen.

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originally posted: 12/09/05 16:52:02
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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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