I have loved The Chronicles of Narnia for a very long time, though I hadn’t read all of the books until just a few years ago. When it was announced a movie was being made out of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I was hopefully excited. When I finally saw it in 2005 when it first came out, I was very happy with the film.
While playing hide-and-seek in an old mansion, the Pevensie children find their way through an old wardrobe to the magical world of Narnia. There they find they are destined to save Narnia from the evil White Witch by bringing about the return of Aslan, the great lion.
Not everything from the books made it into the film, but that’s okay. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe caught the spirit of the book and illustrated it better than I had hoped was possible. I imagine the filmmakers were inspired by the success of the Lord of the Rings films, especially since Weta worked on the armor, weapons, and creature effects for this film, too. I could tell great care was taken in designing everything about Narnia (and even the Professor’s house).
The actors chosen for the four main roles of Lucy (Georgie Henley), Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) did a magnificent job. I especially liked Henley and Keynes, as I found their roles to be especially important to the story. The sense of wonder exhibited by Henley was unmatched by anyone else in the film. Keynes, on the other hand, did an excellent job playing a two-part role of betrayer and repentant hero. That kind of role is difficult for any age, and he really performed well.
The special effects in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobewere spot on. From centaurs and satyrs to Cockney beavers and more, Weta and KNB EFX outdid themselves with attention to detail and the overall look. I really enjoyed watching the “Making of…” features which showed how they achieved the look and how they did the effects. The music by Harry Gregson-Williams was well done. It really fit the film and enhanced every scene—just what the music is supposed to do. They all did a fantastic job.
The movie carried through the Christian themes that C.S. Lewis wrote into the novel, but the themes were handled tastefully, never bashing viewers over the head with symbolism. Rather than detracting from the film, they added another level that I could appreciate.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is my favorite of the Narnia films so far (Voyage of the Dawntreader is a close second). There are so many levels of enjoyment in this film that it is awesome for all ages. Even those who are somehow averse to Christian messages and imagery will still enjoy this film. It is truly wonderful.
Release Date: December 8, 2005 (UK)
MPAA Rating: PG
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (drugged drink)
Violence: 3 (fantasy battles, brutal violence, some death)