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

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
Cast: Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy, Jim Broadbent
Studio: Walt Disney
Rating: 9/10

CORPORATE LINE: C.S. Lewis’ timeless adventure THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE follows the exploits of the four Pevensie siblings — Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter — in World War II England who enter the world of Narnia through a magical wardrobe while playing a game of ‘hide-and-seek’ in the rural country home of an elderly professor. Once there, the children discover a charming, peaceful land inhabited by talking beasts, dwarfs, fauns, centaurs and giants that has become a world cursed to eternal winter by the evil White Witch, Jadis. Under the guidance of a noble and mystical ruler, the lion Aslan, the children fight to overcome the White Witch’s powerful hold over Narnia in a spectacular, climactic battle that will free Narnia from Jadis’ icy spell forever.

The film marks the first live-action directorial effort for New Zealander Andrew Adamson (the Oscar®-winning “Shrek,” “Shrek 2”), who also co-wrote the screenplay adaptation with Emmy Award-winner Ann Peacock (HBO’s “A Lesson Before Dying”) and scribes Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. The film is produced by Academy Award®-winning filmmaker Mark Johnson and Philip Steuer.

To bring his dazzling vision to the screen, Adamson has secured the talents of Oscar®-nominated cinematographer Donald M. McAlpine, ASC, ACS, Oscar®-nominated production designer Roger Ford, seasoned costume designer Isis Mussenden, film editors Sim Evan-Jones and Jim May and composer Harry Gregson-Williams.

THE MOVIE: Everything about Narnia points to being a film for children—except that adults will love it, too. What makes Narnia so different from recent blockbusters like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter is the brilliance in colors and atmosphere. It’s closer to the Wizard of Oz than Harry Potter. Narnia is vibrant and glorious.

Fans of certain books cringe when their favorite books are turned into movies because they fear it will be ruined by the film. Narnia thankfully sticks close to the text and that will make fans happy—and those who have never read the book will quickly feel right at home. Director Andrew Adamson does a great job staying faithful to the book while creating a story that flows well on the screen.

The cast had to be spot on otherwise the entire film would fall to pieces. Just think of the recent Star Wars trilogy. The children are fabulous and actually make Narnia great. The shining star is Tilda Swanson as the White Witch. She is absolutely magnificent and owns every inch of Narnia. It’s impossible to take your eyes of her.

The special effects are stellar, too. Every year a film breaks through by taking special effects to a new level. Years ago it was the Matrix, then the Lord of the Rings, and now Narnia. The talking animals are a true special effects feat. It never once occurred to me that the animals were Computer generated special effects.

THE EXTRAS:
The commentary with Director Andrew Adamson and the children from the film is a lot of fun. The children sound like they are having a blast and it makes their commentary interesting. The kids don’t need to be interviewed to get them to talk and offer a lot of interesting tidbits.

The commentary with Director Andrew Adamson, producer Mark Johnson, and production designer Roger Ford is more indepth about the film’s production. This is about the behind-the-scenes and blow-by-blow of certain scenes and how they were filmed.

“Discover Narnia Fun Facts” – Is basically VH1’s “Pop-Up Video” for the entire film where we learn interesting facts and trivia. This is a great way to watch the movie. The only problem is there should have been more information. Honestly, this could have been better than all of the commentaries combined.

“Chronicles of a Director” – This is a thirty-seven minute documentary on Director Andrew Adamson and the making of the film. It’s an introduction to making a movie and invaluable to film students and insightful fans.

“The Children’s Magical Journey” – This is a twenty-six minute documentary on the children in the movie and how they were selected and more.

“From One Man’s Mind” – A featurette on the author C.S. Lewis.

“Cinematic Storytellers” – This is set in eight chapters that cover costume design, special effects, creating the creatures, and more.

“Creating Creatures” – This is exactly as it sounds—a look into creating the creatures and the actors that played them.

“Anatomy of a Scene: The Melting River” – An indepth look at creating this scene from creation to end.

“Creatures of the World” – More background on the creatures that goes more into mythology.

“Explore Narnia” – This is a map of the world of Narnia. It’s an interactive map that allows you to select different locations and get information and images.

“Legends in Time” – A timeline of the story.

The bloopers are fun if not very short.

FRANKLY: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe give hope for another great series of films now that the Lord of the Rings is finished and Harry Potter will cease in a few years. We can only hope that we get more Narnia films and that they are nearly as good as the original.

+ Charlie Craine