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

| December 12, 2005

It was a long time ago when I was introduced to a series of books that took my young mind to the land of Narnia. In fact, when the series Lord of the Rings trilogy was about to come out on the big screen, I wondered if this series of seven books would soon follow.
Enter Philip Anschutz and his desire to make wholesome entertainment for the family. He optioned the seven books and has set to producing them as movies. With a $120 million budget just for marketing, he is betting that there are a lot of people in their 30s and older with kids who want the same kind of entertainment.
The story takes place during WW2 (in human time) in Great Britain. The blitz is on and all English children are being sent to areas of England the German bombers cannot reach. The four Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy are sent off to the home (castle, really) of Professor Kirke. During a game of hide and go seek, Lucy (the youngest child) discovers a Wardrobe (see the title) that is really a door to the magical kingdom of Narnia. Why this piece of furniture? I don’t remember and Professor Kirke is not telling.
The kingdom was taken over 100 years ago (Narnian time) by the White Witch and she has brought with her perpetual winter. There is a prophecy that two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve (humans) will come to Narnia to defeat the Witch and when the Narnians get wind that there are humans afoot, many things are set in motion to bring battle.
If you have seen any good fairy tale (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars) you know what is going to happen in the battle and after. In the battle, it is always darkest before the dawn when Good triumphs over Evil. Afterwards, the leaders of the battle are marched down a long thrown room and given crowns. And yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Clause.
But it isn’t the ending that is so much the story, but the getting there and this first book of the Chronicles is very much worth seeing. It is a perfect movie to bring your children to as it has a very good redemptive story line with just a hint of religious overtone when one of the main characters, Aslan the Lion is killed but is resurrected because of his goodness.
The three of the four child actors are adequate, but nothing special, as say the children in the Harry Potter series. William Moseley as eldest child Peter is rather bland. Susan, the oldest girl, is played well by Anna Popplewell (Girl with a Pearl Earring) but again, nothing makes her stand out. Edmund is played by newcomer Skandar Keynes. I am hoping this kid learns some other facial expression besides “angry younger brother.” The one lead actor to shine is 10 year old Georgie Henley who plays Lucy. She is bubbling over with enthusiasm and is the best of the four.
The effects in the movie are very well done. There is a great sense of realism while offering a bit of animation and whimsy. It makes sense when you realize the film was directed by Andrew Adamson of Shrek and Shrek 2 fame.
Unlike Lord of the Rings, which planned for three movies in three years, I did not see any plans for the next book of the series to be in production, so we may have to wait awhile for our next adventure in Narnia. If it is as good as this film, it might be worth the wait.

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