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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Chronicles of Narnia

Published December 21, 2005 in Movie Reviews
By Vince Palomarez | Images property of Disney
The Chronicles of Narnia Poster The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Based on the classic novel by CS Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia follows the exploits of the four Pevensie siblings -- Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter -- in World War II England who enter the world of Narnia through a magical wardrobe while playing a game of 'hide-and-seek' in the rural country home of an elderly professor. Once there, the children discover a charming, peaceful land inhabited by talking beasts, dwarfs, fauns, centaurs and giants that has become a world cursed to eternal winter by the evil White Witch, Jadis. Under the guidance of a noble and mystical ruler, the lion Aslan, the children fight to overcome the White Witch's powerful hold over Narnia in a spectacular, climactic battle to free Narnia from Jadis' icy spell forever.

Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe Movie Review



The Good


Itís been ages since Iíve read Chronicles of Narnia, but everything good I remembered about it is still here. The writers decided to stay very faithful to the source material and it clearly shows. All the characters are exactly how I remembered them and it was good to see them portrayed on the big screen.

Weíve come so far with CGI in such a short time; I was amazed with how realistic some of the animated characters looked in this film. From the fox and the beavers all the way up to Aslan, the level of detail and realism is astounding. Each animated character looks and acts as if they were a living breathing entity and are a huge part in making Narnia such a magical place to be.

One of the biggest strengths of Chronicles of Narnia is Tilda Swintonís performance as the White Witch. For years she has flown under the radar, never quite having that breakout performance that would thrust her into the mainstream. Thatís all about to change with Chronicles of Narnia. Her portrayal of the White Witch is so incredible; she single-handedly dominates every scene she is in. It gets to the point where you want to fast forward through all the scenes without her just to see her onscreen again.



The Chronicles of Narnia The Chronicles of Narnia

The Bad


Itís hard for me to look at Chronicles of Narnia and not compare it to the Lord of the Rings franchise. There is no doubt in my mind that Disney went into this production with that frame of mind and sadly, they failed miserably. So any film that comes out afterwards should strive to be as good if not better than what Peter Jackson was able to do. Itís a hard thing to accomplish, but fans have been spoiled by the slick production, excellent special effects and great storytelling the LOTR franchise brought. Although Chronicles of Narnia was trying to reach that level, in the end it came off looking like a poor manís version of the LOTR.

Everything about this film seemed a notch below LOTR in terms of quality and execution. Peter Jackson was able to make you believe you were really in Middle Earth fighting it out against evils that came from Mordor, experiencing the highs and lows the Fellowship endured. In the case of Chronicles of Narnia, I felt more like I was on the outside looking in. Iím sure if this was any other film I would probably be impressed with the special effects, but for a film of this magnitude the production value should be top notch, yet the throughout the film my attention was continuously taken away from the story due to the lack of quality in some of the special effects as well as the films insistence on trying to be too much like LOTR.

A perfect example of this would be during the final battle between the White Queen and Aslanís army. There was one scene in particular where the director was trying to get the same type of audience reaction that LOTR got when Legolas single handedly took down one of the elephants. The way it was done in Chronicles comes off looking a bit confusing and not as cool as LOTR. That type of scene has been done numerous times before in many other films, but if you canít do it right, donít do it at all.

In the end there is only one person to blame and that would be the director. Andrew Adamson shot to A-List category thanks to all the money he made for Dreamworks with Shrek 1 & 2. Despite his lack of experience outside the CGI world, Disney gave him the keys to the kingdom and never looked back. Iím not to sure if Adamson had done some previous work with live actors outside of the U.S. prior to the Shrek series, if not, his lack of experience really shows on Chronicles of Narnia. A film can have a budget of $300 million and if you chose an inexperienced director, the greatest special effects in the world couldnít save it. When working with the CGI portions of the film, Adamson seems to be in his elements and his strengths certainly show, but when it comes to working with live actors he canít quite get the same performances that he could with CGI and some of the performances from the younger actors seem to suffer.


The Ugly


Music can make or break a film and in the Chronicles of Narniaís case, it brings the film crashing down. Imagine if Mobyís untalented younger brother hooked up with Enya and you can get the sense of how bad this music was. Whoever created the opening music during the opening credits must have been tone deaf.

Also, I know the writer of the film wanted to stay truthful to the book, but was I the only one laughing at Edmundís obsession with Turkish Delight?

Overall


While the CGI characters and most of the performances are top notch, it wasn’t enough to make me forget all the bad parts about this film. Even though Chronicles of Narnia tries to be on par with the Lord of the Rings franchise, it always finds itself a step behind, which makes it pretty forgettable.

Score:



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Vince Palomarez
Sources: Images property of Disney
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