Sunday, December 11, 2005

eyeCandy: Chronicles of Narnia (2005) 4/5

Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is based on the book by C.S. Lewis, a contemporary of J.R.R. Tolkein. Indeed, the movie feels somewhat like a cross between the Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter movies. The fantastic mythology has the more robust approach of the Rings, but this is, at heart, a story about young people and fantasy, making it somewhat more akin to (although much better executed than the Potter series IMHO).

The movie begins during the second world war as four siblings are moved from their mother's care in London to the house of an eccentric professor in the English countryside in order to avoid the bombings of the Germans. The house contains a magical wardrobe that acts as a portal into the mystical world of Narnia. The children venture through the wardrobe to find themselves an integral part of an ancient prophesy which holds the balance in a struggle between the good lion god of Narnia (voiced by Liam Neeson) and the evil White Witch.

The visuals are wonderful. Like Tolkein's world, Narnia has a very animal-based mythology, where common creatures are imbued with intelligence and speech, and exist alongside centaurs, minotaurs, faerie folk, and other monsters. Unlike the typically indulgent Potter films, the 2 hour 20 minute running time did not seem to drag for me and the pacing of the movie is effective. The story arc is consistent and understandable, and the level of writing simply seems to be of a higher caliber. The young actors in the main roles (especially the youngest sister) are compelling, and the "children's film" element is most strongly felt because of their involvement, as opposed to the sophistication of the story itself.

Though not as epic or monumental as the Lord of the Rings, this film is exceptional well-done and I very much look forward to subsequent episodes (there are seven books in the Narnia series).
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12/11/2005 04:15:00 PM  

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