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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (****)
Directed by Andrew Adamson
Written by C.S. Lewis (book), Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Ann Peacock
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
Principal Cast
Tilda Swinton -- Jadis, the White Witch
Georgie Henley -- Lucy
Skandar Keynes -- Edmund
Anna Popplewell -- Susan
William Moseley -- Peter
James McAvoy -- Mr. Tumnus, the faun
Jim Broadbent -- Prof. Kirk
James Cosmo -- Father Christmas
Kiran Shah -- Ginarrbrik, the dwarf
Liam Neeson (voice) -- Aslan
Ray Winstone (voice) -- Mr. Beaver
Dawn French (voice) -- Mrs. Beaver
Rupert Everett (voice) -- The Fox
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

Considering how much could have gone wrong, this much anticipated film turned out surprisingly well. None of the writers has any major screen credits except Andrew Adamson. He directed this film and also Shrek and Shrek II, but his only previous major writing credit is on Shrek II.

There have been two previous TV adaptations of the book, one animated, one live action. They were well intentioned, but proved that certain stories cannot be filmed with investing a great deal of money. Everything here looks real, from the snowflakes falling from the sky to the battles featuring centaurs, ogres, and a rhinoceros. And then the special effects have the grace to step aside, and allow the human characters center stage.

This is really Lucy's story, and the most memorable images in this major special effects spectacular are the expressions on Lucy's face. The actors who play Peter, Susan, and Edmund do a perfectly good job, and the children are on screen in almost every scene, but it is Lucy that one remembers. She makes the film.

There are a few moments I fault. They seem small, but they break the spell, and that is no small thing. When Peter reaches back into the wardrobe, he grabs the first four coats that his hands touch -- and all of them fit. If he had taken just a moment to rummage around it would have kept us from being pulled out of the story and brought back to reality -- oh, well then, it's just a movie. More serious is that Aslan is not played by a real lion. I understand that some of the effects have to be done with a CGI lion, but while Aslan's surface looks real, and even his hair looks real, the muscles that we should see moving under the skin just aren't there, and so Aslan is never quite as real to us as he should be.

Oh, but think of all the things that could have gone wrong. The fights could have looked fake. The appearance of Saint Nicholas could have been embarrassing. The talking animals could look like cartoons instead of real animals. If it falls a hair below the quality of The Lord of the Rings, and it does, it is still much better than we had any cause to hope.

Stay for an early credit cookie just after the cast credits.

Copyright © 2005 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon.

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