Movie Review: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

Name: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
Rating: PG
Grade: A

Having read both the Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings at a very young age, it has been difficult for me to read most other fantasy novels as they are inevitably compared, unfairly perhaps, to these towering standards which have been ingrained into my very being since childhood. My standards for a good movie rendition of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe were clearly quite high.

I am happy to report that the new movie lived up to nearly all of my expectations.

I am not one of those fans who expects a movie adaptation of a book never to deviate in the slightest from the written text, and if you are one of those people, there are likely to be some parts of this movie that disappoint you. That said, I do not think that these changes hurt the film. At worst, they were nearly inconsequential and could have been easily omitted. At best, they helped keep the momentum of the film and helped round out some of the characters.

I found the young actors amazingly talented, especially little Georgie Henley who played Lucy. Skandar Keynes, who played Edmund, was quite good as well, though I would have liked to see him give a grand, deluded soliloquy as he stumbled alone from the beaver’s home toward the castle of the White Witch.

Tilda Swinton, who played the White Witch, took a more subtle approach to her character than others have previously presented her, and to excellent effect I think. I only wish that in her little speech at the Stone Table she had shown a little more gloating over the perceived triumph of Evil over Good. I think that had she allowed a little more heat from her cold character at that point it would have helped her character more.

The weakest character was the Professor, played by Jim Broadbent. Even though he is a relatively minor character, Broadbent’s characterization made the professor come across silly and perhaps a little crazy rather than sober and wise. This characterization is devastating to his important conversation with Peter and Susan and his logic concerning Lucy’s claims to have visited Narnia.

I was pleasantly surprised that the completely Computer Generated Aslan turned out so well. I am not a big fan of Liam Neeson, but I am a fan of his voice—which was perfect for Aslan. I did find it ironic, however, that the same man who played Alfred Kinsley, provided the voice for Aslan.

While there were a few moments when I thought the Computer Graphics were a little too obvious, all in all I found the effects more convincing than those of the recent Harry Potter films—I especially noticed this with the Centaurs. The effects for the goat legs of Mr. Tumnus, the Faun, were also impressive.

I thought the battle at the climax of the movie was beautifully done. It is easy in “children’s movies” to make the battles silly and unbelievable. It is hard to do them correctly. The movie is quite violent for a PG rating, but I don’t think that violence for its own sake was glorified. And the violence is vital to the character development of Peter, and even more so for Edmund.

The Christian themes of the book are all present in the movie, though I did not feel that they were overbearing in any way.

Congratulations to Director Andrew Adamson, and all the people who worked on this fine film. Take your family to see The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. It deserves to be the most profitable movie of the year. You can make it so.

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3 Responses to Movie Review: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

  1. I’m really excited about seeing this movie, and it’s good to hear that you give it high marks. Our family is waiting until the crowds go down a bit (and we all have free time at the same time!), but it’s definitely a must-see. Thanks for the informative review.

  2. Geoff B

    Jon, I enjoyed this movie, and I agree that the professor was disappointing. If you ever see the BBC version (which I have), the actor who plays the professor in that is much more convincing and appropriate. The rest of the BBC version is far inferior, however.

  3. First, I just want to say that I’m happy to find out you are blogging again and I only regret not finding out sooner.

    Second, I’m excited to see this movie. Especially after reading your review. We just received a message from Netflix that this DVD is finally coming our way. It must have been in much demand because we’ve had it at #1 since it came out and we have been getting other movies for awhile. The “short wait” description on Netflix was anything but accurate.

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