December 11, 2005

Movie Review: Chronicles of Narnia

Here is my Chronicles of Narnia review for your viewing pleasure.

Not having read the books I went into this movie with an open mind. I understood the mindset that this was geared towards children and it was obvious from the onset. However, this did not impact the pleasure of watching this movie at all. I think back to some of the greatest fantasy ever. The Hobbit, which later spawned the Lord of the Rings, was written as a children’s book. Even when Tolkien began the LotR saga he was gearing it towards a children’s story.

There is something about the child’s mind that inspires true fantasy. As I watched the movie I immediately understood why the youngest child of the group, Lucy, was the first one into the world of Narnia. Narnia is a place you do not seek out; it happens when you are the least expecting.

Let's get back to the fact that this movie is geared towards children. This leads to some awkward scenes where the young actors fail to really carry the weight their roles required, but overall the movie was excellent. Looking at the roles I will give my thoughts on each.

Lucy - The youngest of the group she quickly sets herself apart in terms of acting. She carries many awkward scenes and that is a lot to say considering her young age. Her first initial interaction with the faun character of Mr. Tummus is by far one of the best of the movie.

Edmund - Really the only character in the movie with any sort of character development he definitely fits the role. He evolves and over the movie I believe he grows indefinitely on the audience.

Susan - The A-typical older sister attitude. The sad part about her role is that she seems to be there mainly to fill in holes in various scenes. There never seems to be a connection built between her and her younger sister which was disappointing.

Peter - As the designated "hero" for the story he is a very lateral character. He fits the role well, but the role leads nowhere. Like Susan, Peter suffers from being a filler character. In the opening scenes of war stricken Britain a connection begins to form with his younger brother Edmund, but by the end of the movie it is relegated to weak and quick scenes of bonding.

However, the movie is a sum of its parts and together they make for one hell of a kick ass ride. Pardon the language if there are young ones around. Outside of the four children the movie is filled with a host of computer generated characters that range from talking beavers to half-man/half-horse centaurs.

On the note of the special effects it is noticeable in some areas that Sony Imageworks is no Weta Workshop or ILM. We are still in the transition period for major motion pictures using large amounts of special effects and if Narnia is any sign its getting better by the movie.

The special effects and complete CG characters never fail the movie. The prominent character of Aslan, a Jesus inspired lion voiced by Liam Nisan, is a joy the entire movie. The comical duo of Mr. and Mrs. Beaver are a wonder to behold. I loved the imagination put into the various creatures and it makes me want to learn about each and everyone of them.

Comparisons to the Lord of the Rings trilogy were apparent before Narnia hit theaters. I’m glad to report that Narnia is nowhere near as dark or moody as Peter Jackson’s films. Again this is akin to the fact it was a Disney production developed from stories meant for children. As the scenes lift from winters blight to spring bliss the mood never strays far from the scenery.

The other disagreement point of the movie before release was the religious overtone of C.S. Lewis’s work. This is left up to interpretation during the movie. To some it has overtones into their religion while to others it is simply Narnia. It by far does not disappoint those faithful to the books from what I’ve read.

Overall the movie is like its final battle scene. It starts with a triumphant roar and as it nears its collision point it silences itself into a single heartbeat that explodes into the rage of battle. The dark points of the movie pound to a dramatic turning point, but silence into the light and magic of Narnia. It is then preserved and there is enough magic left for both adults and children alike.

Update: 7 Nov, 2006 - Reposted from old Heartless Gamer Reviews section and applied labels.