Disney attempts to fill the void left by "Lord of the Rings", by bringing us "The Chronicles of Narnia", another effects-laden fantasy tradition to see in theaters during the Christmas holiday season. And while this first Narnia movie succeeds as a crowd-pleasing fairy tale, it's shrouded by a feeling that the filmmakers are trying too hard to establish the Narnia series as an epic adventure. Perhaps it's the over-scored soundtrack lined with Enya like vocals that makes Narnia seem slightly off, the result is a watch able, however overly dramatized film.
The first Narnia installment is based on "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" which is the second book in the series by Narnia creator C.S. Lewis. While the book took care to down play the violence in the story, the Narnia movie expands the war sequences to be reminiscent of the battles from the recent "Lord of The Rings" movies. Yet Unlike "Lord of the Rings", Narnia, goes out of its way to be as family friendly as possible. This means the epic battles that occur between the magical forces of good and evil feature creatures using swords and axes, they do so without any splattering of blood or gore on screen.
No expense is spared in actualizing Narnia's spectacular world that brings a family of British children into a realm filled with Centaurs, Minotaurs, and all sorts of computer generated talking animals. There were enough effects shots to keep an army of special effects magicians at ILM, Sony and Wega busy during Narnia's lengthy production cycle.
The human actors aren't completely overwhelmed by the effects and there are sweet and fun moments shared between the four brothers and sisters that play a role in Narnia's saga. However, it's the villain that steals the show. Aptly cast as the white witch Jadis, Tilda Swinton continues her reign as one of my favorite actors. Her demanding stare captures the hostility behind her icy disposition, and she seems to relish her evil side as she commands the legions of monsters to do her bidding.
And while I've heard of a marketing campaign that surrounds the Narnia movie, where the studios offered special screenings shown to Christian church groups, I don't quite understand the connection. While CS Lewis may have imbued his story with Christian values, the Narnia storyline has more Pagan elements than Biblical. Despite the heavy handed nature of the film Narnia will surely delight theater goers into the winter, and clearly leaves the door open for further Narnia movies to come. And as the Narnia effects crew shirt says...I'm happy that what happens in Narnia stays in Narnia, for Movie Magazine this is Purple.
© 2006 - Purple - Air Date: 12/7/05
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
USA - 2005