Thursday, January 28, 2016

Movie Review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Recommended for: Ages 8 to Adult (younger if familiar with book)

Rating: PG (for battle sequences and frightening moments)

Join Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter, four siblings who step through a magical wardrobe and find the land of Narnia. There, they discover a charming, once-peaceful kingdom that has been plunged into eternal winter by the evil White Witch, Jadis. Aided by the magnificent lion Aslan, the children lead Narnia into a tremendous, climactic battle to be free of the Witch's glacial powers forever!

This will ever and always be my favorite movie. Since I first saw it about ten years ago, I have seen it enough times to unintentionally memorize the entire film, and yet it never gets old. The magic of Narnia is always new, always beautiful, and the depth of the story, the true meaning behind it, it always fills me with awe, no matter which format of the story I'm experiencing. Last weekend, watching it because the snow we received reminded me all day of Narnia, was no different. I love every second, and I always come away with something new.

Technical: 5/5

This film was excellently made. It was Disney. They do the best work. The attention to detail is amazing. The roots of the lamppost, the carvings on the wardrobe that tell the story of The Magician's Nephew, the costumes (all of which I absolutely love), how real and lived in both Mr. Tumnus and the beavers' houses are, the way the White Witch's ice crown melts throughout the movie, it's brilliant. The acting is fantastic. Something that really stuck out to me this time around was the interaction between Peter (William Mosely) and Lucy (Georgie Henley). It was just so real. Will made you believe that he really was Georgie's big brother. The little gestures, like how he takes her hand to help her along, how he is always taking care of her, pay attention to that next time. You can't beat acting like that. It was very well written as well. While I could complain about forced dialogue in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), there is no call for that in this film. There are a few changes I wish they hadn't made, but even so, it is quite a faithful adaptation, one of Disney's best. Gotta mention the music. I love it to pieces. After all, it's the soundtrack that started my continuing addiction to film score.

Setting: 4.8/5

I personally think they did a superb job of creating Narnia for the screen. I only deducted a bit of a point because I decided I didn't like the way they did the dryads. It's cool having them materialize out of flower petals, but it's not how they're described in the book, nor is it consistent with their portrayal in Prince Caspian. And while someone inevitably says that the White Witch's castle wasn't that close to Beaversdam in the book, they didn't really condense it all that much. According to the map, it's not as far as you would think. It's all in Lantern Waste. Knowing the history of Narnia, they were able to really dig in deep and portray it, like with the lamppost. The Stone Table, Beruna, the breathtaking Castle of Cair Paravel, it's all perfect. Faithful to the book. 

Plot: 4.8/5

As I said before, there are a few things I wish they hadn't changed, though overall, I think they did a spectacular job of adapting the book. I don't mind them adding more battle, I don't mind Lucy first entering Narnia during hide-and-seek, I don't mind the added river scene, I don't even mind the upped tension. I do wish they hadn't cut so much of Aslan breathing life back into the statues at the Witch's Castle, I think having them run after breaking the window wasn't such a good idea, and having the Witch sit down after Aslan roars at her isn't nearly as effective as having her run out of the camp. But even with the changes, it is a most powerful story. I've talked about it before, in my Friday Favorite about the book. It never ceases to amaze me. All the parallels! Edmund was so nasty. He was cruel to Lucy, he betrayed his family without a thought, and yet, Aslan gave up His life to save him. It's such a picture of the True Story. Just as Edmund had to die for his treachery, we have to die for our sins. Just as Aslan gave up his life that Edmund might live, Jesus gave up His life that we might be redeemed. And just as Aslan came back to life to bring hope and salvation to Narnia, Jesus came back to life to bring hope and salvation to us. And as Aslan says in Dawn Treader, "This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."

Character Development: 5/5

Spectacular. Fantastic. The characters were well developed in the books and, while they strayed from the book in this department as in others in Prince Caspian, they were quite accurate in this one. Susan is, perhaps, slightly more skeptical than in the book, and the beavers are a bit more, um, interesting, but the children and Mr. Tumnus and Aslan and the Witch, they were so well done. I could go into each character individually and their characteristics and how they were portrayed, but I'm not here to write a book on the subject, and I need to finish this review. But Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy were so real and accurately portrayed and well acted. Also worth mentioning is the Professor. There's a bit more to him than in the book, but considering we know his backstory when C.S. Lewis had yet to make it up when writing this book, I'm very glad of the little things they threw in to the way he reacted to what the children said about Narnia.

I will always love Narnia. It will always touch my heart. It will always help me to see and understand things I haven't before. It will always have a special place in my heart.

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