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When the Pevensie family are evacuated out to the country, they are unaware of the adventure they will encounter. During a game of hide and seek, the youngest daughter, Lucy (Henley) discovers a wardrobe which transports her to the land of Narnia. Covered in snow, Narnia is full of weird and wonderful creatures, but is watched over by the evil White Witch, Jadis (Swinton). When all four Pevensie children end up through the wardrobe, they discover that it was meant to be, as two daughters of Eve and two sons of Adam must join with the mighty lion, Aslan (Neeson) to defeat the evil White Witch. Written by
When Lucy meets Mr. Tumnus the faun, he plays music for her on a funny-looking Narnian instrument. The actual sound heard is produced by the duduk (doudouk, düdük), an ancient wind instrument, famously featured in Sergei Parajanov's The Color of Pomegranates (1968) as well as Parajanov: The Last Spring (1992); the use of the duduk has become almost a tradition in Hollywood blockbusters. The instrument that Mr. Tumnus uses on set is actually a figment of the prop department's imagination. In the book Tumnus plays, as a faun, a Pan's flute. It's an instrument which is very difficult to play or even to mime playing. See more »
When Susan goes to practice her bow Lucy joins her. Lucy then throws her knife at the target and hits the bullseye dead on. When the camera pans back to Lucy with a big grin on her face you can see her knife tucked safely away in its sheath. See more »
A strangely disappointing experience given the quality credentials of just about all involved.
The relative inexperience of the writers is clearly evident. Whether seen as a metaphor for a world without God (hell), or the Nazi regime, the cultural and social landscape of Narnia is ripe with potential, none of which is realized here. The White Witch's regime is not explored, we are not told who she is, where she came from, how or why she took over the world. She lacks any motivation or real emotional drive. Similarly, the children seem happy to throw themselves into a war without a second thought of home. Nothing in this story is ever explained, we are simply expected to accept it without question, which is a far more dictatorial representation of Christianity than Lewis ever intended. The plotting lacks energy and momentum, with no real sense of suspense. The characterization is weak and one-dimensional. But even more surprisingly from the creators of Shrek, is the complete lack of humor.
The acting is sound from all but the leads. The two older children struggle to bring the necessary range of emotion to their roles, with Moseley in particular presenting a decidedly weak interpretation of heroic kingliness. The two younger children luckily make up for their on screen siblings' shortcomings, with Henley bringing the wide-eyed innocence to Lucy that the role requires, and Keynes displaying a surprising amount of subtlety as the eternally wronged and resentful Edmund. McAvoy and Swinton are both excellent and at times are required to carry the movie alone.
The CGI is competent, but little more. It's always good to see Fauns and Centaurs running around, but it doesn't break any boundaries in terms of design or execution. There's none of the thrill of the vast armies of Middle Earth, or the attention to the minutiae of Narnia that is really necessary in realizing a new world from scratch.
Disney clearly hopes that this will bring them the rewards that 'Lord of the Rings' brought New Line Cinema and 'Harry Potter' is bringing to Warner Brothers. But 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' lacks the emotional depth, epic range, creative inventiveness and dramatic urgency of the 'Rings' trilogy. Similarly, it has none of the humor, camaraderie, charisma or charm of 'Harry Potter'. Judging from the audience that I saw it with, it will be very popular, and a sequel is very probable, but unless Narnia finds some heart and soul, the complete cycle seems unlikely.
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