Publicity Stills of "The Chronicles of Narnia"
(Courtesy from BVI)

Genre: Fantasy
Director: Andrew Adamson
Tilda Swinton, James McAvoy, Rupert Everett, Jim Broadbent, Ray Winstone, Dawn French
RunTime: 2 hrs 20 mins
Released By: BVI
Rating: PG

Opening Day: 22 December 2005

Synopsis :

Lewis’ timeless adventure 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.

Movie Review:

Widely anticipated as the last blockbuster to grace the big screen this year after Peter Jackson’s “King Kong” is none other than the adaptation of the C S Lewis’s classic “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe”.

Set in World War II, the main characters in the movie is the four Pevensie siblings, Peter the big brother, Susan the down-to-earth daughter, Edmund the mischievous third sibling and the kind-heartened Lucy are sent to the countryside to escape the treacherous bombings in London by their mother after a nerving prologue. It’s there whereby the youngest Pevensie sibling discovers the magical wardrobe during a game of hide-and-seek. If you’re unfamiliar with the literary version, this wardrobe is not your ordinary piece of furnishing from IKEA, instead by walking through it, you will discover the magical world of Narnia. Dominated by talking animals of all sorts, fauns (half human half goat), Centaurs, Santa Claus (yes that Santa Claus with reindeers) and the evil White Witch which the Pevensie siblings will faced off in the climatic battle at the end.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Cupboard” plods along unhurriedly, unlike J K Rowling’s Harry Potter movie series which moves at a pretty break-necked pace at times. Although supposedly to target the younger audience, sad to say, the magical elements are pretty subdued and action pieces are limited in the former to capture the attention of the more hyperactive younger generation of today. So instead of colourful visual eye-candy, Director Andrew Adamson (from the hit animated “Shrek” franchises) takes on a more story-telling approach, a far diversifies from his computer effects background. The added advantage of the slow build-up of the story allows the introduction of the loveable bickering pair, Mr & Mrs Beaver, Mr Fox (Rupert Everett from “My Best Friend’s Wedding”) and the main draw, Aslan the Lion (Voiced magnificently by Liam Neeson), Neeson who replaces Brian Cox transits into the character beautifully with his deep-drawn drawl.

The endearing casting of the Pevensie siblings will grow on you as they faced tribulations and bond as a family throughout the ordeal. The White Witch as played by Tilda Swinton (“Constantine”) is very much as convincing as the usual evil character found in fairy tales. Her cold and distant appearance is perfect for the role.

Unlike his counterpart, J R R Tolkien who was very specific in his Middle earth, C S Lewis left most of the imagination to the readers. Thus the duties of creating the vast world of Narnia falls into the hands of the writers, director and the enlisting of the top visual and special effects companies of Hollywood such as ILM, Sony Imageworks and WETA, one can’t help but marveled at how cheesy the effects were in the end given the huge production costs and expertises involved. The battle sequence (with a slight tint of the superb “Lord of the Rings” trilogy) is very much a sanitized PG version. There are lots of quick cuts to the action, this might seem a bit of a put-off to the action buffs. WETA, which assists in creating part of the creature effects and armouries has pretty much little left on screen to show off their creativity.

Walden Media and Disney has the rights to transform this classic C S Lewis’s seven-volume series into motion pictures. But given the demands of the audience, the production team apparently has lots to do to turn it more lucrative and entertaining to reach audience as wide as what “Lord of the Rings” or “Harry Potter” has done at the moment. But still, “Chronicles of Narnia” will appeal to adults (those who have grown up reading the books) and children (maybe the non-Harry Potter fanbase). The touted Christianity themes are very much down played in the movie version, just be slightly patient and sit through this likeable magical, family-theme tale this festive season. You might find yourself picking up the book.

Movie Rating:

(A family-theme magical tale that relies more on storytelling and lesser on the eye-candy, your first choice for the family this festive season)

(Review by Linus Tee)

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