I saw The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe this weekend and it lived up to my very high expectations in virtually every area, in some it even surpassed them.
I know everyone probably thinks that I couldn’t do anything but praise the film, but I assure you that I would be the first to criticize the film if they failed to produce a movie that captured the magic of the novel.
The filmmakers did a fabulous job. They added where it needed to be added. They took away what could be taken away. There are a few things, as a fan of the book, that I would have rather been done differently, but those are simply differences of opinions.
Some may be caught up that the film does not go word-for-word from the book. I am not one of those. The film was extremely faithful to the book in the areas it needed to be. Those who spend their time nit-picking details may be unaware of the difference between the mediums and the inability to take something directly from book to film form.
The CGI was amazing, for the most part. There are occassionaly lapses (really just one for me) where you are jarred back to reality and you realize you are watching a movie. The one scene that I thought was done poorly was very similar to my least favorite scene in The Lord of the Rings. In both films the characters are standing with the camera close up on three or four faces and the background looks bad. That was the one place where the CGI looked like CGI.
Aslan was, rightfully so, the most impressive CGI character. They nailed his eyes. More than anything else, the fur, the shading, the body, the eyes were expressive and captured the emotions of Aslan. I did wish that Aslan could have been a little larger.
One area that others said was lacking was the scenery of Narnia and I agree. We see the English countryside as the train carries the children to the professor’s home away from the bombings in London, but we only catch rare glimpses of the majestic land of Narnia. Aside from a few far-off shots of Cair Paravel, we never really experience the depth of the Narnian land.
There were several humorous moments that played well. One instance, the death of a henchmen, was extremely funny, but I am not sure it was supposed to be. It is a kid’s movie to be sure, but the humor and smart dialogue allows adults to enjoy the film.
The acting by the children was amazing, especially the younger children who had more to work with than Peter. By nature, Lucy, Edmund and Susan are deeper characters with more to portray. Peter is merely supposed to look like a prince and be brave and noble. He portrayed the character of Peter well.
Lucy gives you the wonderment of discovering Narnia. I thought the scene of her slowly walking through the wardrobe into the forest was just right. The story is told mostly through Lucy’s eyes. You feel awe as you see Narnia. You can feel the anxiousness as she and Susan walk with Aslan. You know the horror as they watch Aslan sacrifice himself. Her pain comes across as so real, you can almost touch it.
Edmund is perfect. He is able to play both the villian and the hero. He is the sneaky, clever little boy that everyone always blames if something goes wrong. His performance allows you to hate him, feel sorry for him, empathize with him and love him at various points in the film, sometimes all at once.
Susan plays the role of the sensible, safe one very well. She allows the audience to feel the danger of Narnia. She gives the characters their sense of dread. Her safeness plays well with Lucy’s wonder, Peter’s braveness and Edmund’s unpredictability.
One odd thing was they included Santa Claus or Father Christmas, as he is called in the book, but they were careful not to call him either. Several characters spoke of Christmas, but they took such care to never name Santa.
I have several other things that I want to discuss about the film, including the spiritual aspects of it, but I think the film can stand alone as a great story. I hate seeing a film and saying, "That was the greatest movie ever." It sounds so teenager-ish, but I left the movie contemplating that. It is definitely one of my favorite movies I have ever seen. I cannot wait to see it again (in 9 days).
It will become, if it is not already, a family classic. The film is breathtaking and majestic, heartfelt and emotional. The few minor issues are the only thing that prevent it from being a perfect film (which I may have considered it if I did not already know and love Narnia), so I give it a 4.75 out 5.