The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe
C.S. Lewis's classic novel The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
makes an ambitious and long-awaited leap to the screen in this modern adaptation. It's a CGI-created world laden with all the special effects and visual wizardry modern filmmaking technology can conjure, which is fine so long as the film stays true to the story that Lewis wrote. And while this film is not a literal translation--it really wants to be so much more than just a kids' movie--for the most part it is faithful enough to the story, and whatever faults it has are happily faults of overreaching, and not of holding back. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
tells the story of the four Pevensie children, Lucy, Peter, Edmund, and Susan, and their adventures in the mystical world of Narnia. Sent to the British countryside for their own safety during the blitz of World War II, they discover an entryway into a mystical world through an old wardrobe. Narnia is inhabited by mythical, anthropomorphic creatures suffering under the hundred-year rule of the cruel White Witch (Tilda Swinton, in a standout role). The arrival of the children gives the creatures of Narnia hope for liberation, and all are dragged into the inevitable conflict between evil (the Witch) and good (Aslan the Lion, the Messiah figure, regally voiced by Liam Neeson).
Director (and co-screenwriter) Andrew Adamson, a veteran of the Shrek franchise, knows his way around a fantasy-based adventure story, and he wisely keeps the story moving when it could easily become bogged down and tiresome. Narnia is, of course, a Christian allegory and the symbology is definitely there (as it should be, otherwise it wouldn't be the story Lewis wrote), but audiences aren’t knocked over the head with it, and in the hands of another director it could easily have become pedantic. The focus is squarely on the children and their adventures. The four young actors are respectable in their roles, especially considering the size of the project put on their shoulders, but it's the young Georgie Henley as the curious Lucy who stands out. This isn't a film that wildly succeeds, and in the long run it won't have the same impact as the Harry Potter franchise, but it is well done, and kids will get swept up in the adventure. Note: Narnia does contain battle scenes that some parents may consider too violent for younger children. --Dan Vancini
More exciting than The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian continues the movie franchise based on C.S. Lewis' classic fantasy books. The movie picks up where the first left off... sort of. It's been a year since the Pevensie children--Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and Lucy (Georgie Henley)--returned to England from Narnia, and they've just about resigned themselves to living their ordinary lives. But just like that, they're once again transported to a fantastical land, but one with a long-abandoned castle. It turns out that they are in Narnia again--and they themselves lived in that castle, but hundreds of years ago in Narnia time. They've been summoned back to help Prince Caspian (Stardust's Ben Barnes, resembling a young, cultured Keanu Reeves), the rightful heir to the throne who's become the target of his power-hungry uncle, King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto). And he's not the only one threatened: Miraz's people, the Telmarines, have pushed all the Narnians--the talking animals, the centaurs and other beasts, the walking trees--to the brink of extinction. Despite some alpha-male bickering, Peter and Caspian agree to fight Miraz alongside the remaining Narnians, including the dwarf Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage) and the swashbuckling mouse Reepicheep (voiced by Eddie Izzard). (Also appearing is Warwick Davis, who was in Willow and the 1989 BBC version of Prince Caspian.) But of course they most of all miss the noble lion, Aslan, who would have never let this happen to Narnia if he hadn't disappeared.
Prince Caspian is epic, evoking memories of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films. (Some of the battle elements may seem too familiar, but they were in Lewis's book.) And it's appropriate for kids (Reepicheep could have come out of a Shrek movie), though the tone is dark and there is a lot of death, albeit bloodless. After two successful films, Disney and Walden Media's franchise has proved successful enough that many of the characters are scheduled to return in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. --David Horiuchi, Amazon.com
Double bill of family adventures based on the novel by C.S. Lewis. In 'The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' (2005), Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are deported from London to the house of an eccentric professor during World War II. They find life in the house extremely dull, until Lucy discovers a wardrobe that leads to a magical world called Narnia, where animals can talk and all are ruled over by the wise and benevolent lion Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson). The others don't believe her at first, but soon all of them go through the wardrobe and discover all is not well in Narnia. The land is being kept in a perpetual winter by the evil White Witch, Jadis (Tilda Swinton), who turns anyone who doesn't obey her into stone. The children join Aslan and the animals loyal to him in an attempt to vanquish Jadis. In 'The Chronicles of Narnia - Prince Caspian' (2008), the story continues as exiled heir to the throne, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), tries to defeat evil King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) and regain his rightful place on the throne. Thinking it has only been one year since they last visited the magical kingdom of Narnia, the four child heroes return to discover that 1300 years have actually passed in the kingdom. With Narnia's golden age over, the usurpers, King Miraz and Queen Punaprisma (Alicia Borrachero), have taken the throne. Eager to keep his bloodline on the throne, the evil king plans to kill the rightful heir, Prince Caspian, in order that his son will inherit the kingdom. Now it's up to Peter (Moseley), Susan (Popplewell), Edmund (Keynes) and Lucy (Henley) to find Prince Caspian and, with the aid of those loyal to Narnia, restore the rightful king to the throne.