Saturday, December 10, 2005

Review: The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Yesterday I went to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe with my brother and sister-in-law. (You can read my brother's shorter, less flattering review here.)

I love the Chronicles of Narnia. I reread them every year or so - I always enjoy them. I know that they are children's books - more so than Harry Potter - these books are short, quick reads, and meant for children - younger children. But I find them fascinating to read as an adult - I love the way C.S. Lewis likes fiction. Lewis' theology isn't exactly my cup of tea all the time, but sometimes I think in his fiction he lets his theology run a little wilder, a little more free. So I love the imagination in the Chronicles.

The movie is - OK. I thought, as I was watching, that if you were an adult seeing the movie, you wouldn't like it unless a) you had kids with you or b) you were a big fan of the books. (Side note - so glad they appear to be doing the movies in the original publishing order of the books. I know C.S. Lewis mentioned that they could be better ordered chronologically according to Narnia time, but frankly, I don't think he thought it through. The make much more sense as published.) The movie doesn't stray too terribly from the book, and I think they do a good job putting into tangible images Lewis' words. Narnia looks like I have always imagined it looking.

The problem, I think, is that things that Lewis writes on the page seem plausible in words and imaginations. But putting them on the screen makes them seem awfully silly. It was hard to watch the battle scenes and not laugh. These children, fighting? Please. And Liam Neeson, who I like as an actor, I did not like as the voice of Aslan. I was expecting something deeper, and more powerful in sound. Also, as a side detail, I was shocked at the poor makeup jobs for some characters. I have some stage makeup background - nothing great, but enough to know that in a movie, you shouldn't be able to "see" the makeup so much. It was very distracting.

Still, I will probably go see any future editions of the Chronicles. Maybe, as Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter grow up, so will the movies.
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