Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy (William Moseley, Anna Poppwell, Skandar Keynes, and Georgie Henley) are four brothers and sisters who are relocated during the WWII air raids by Germany to a safer place outside of London. The Pevensies find themselves in the magnificent home of the hermit Professor Digory Kirke (Jim Broadbent), who is a collector of antiques, including a mysterious wardrobe. Playing hide and seek one day Lucy finds herself slipping further and further into the wardrobe, until she realizes she is not in the wardrobe anymore, but in a snow covered forest. There she meets a most interesting creature called a “faun” and his name is Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy). Lucy and Tumnus quickly become friends, but after much time has passed Lucy quickly returns to the wardrobe to find that she wasn’t gone for hours, but only seconds. She shares her adventure with her siblings and immediately is shunned by her brother Edmund. Though her siblings don’t believe her tale they accidentally find themselves in the wardrobe as well and soon they have all reached Narnia to discover a fantastical world ruled by the ominous White Witch (Tilda Swinton), and before long they are being hunted by her and her army and their adventure begins.
Being an enormous aficionado of the Narnia novels by C.S. Elliot I was positively terrified on the destruction of one of my favorite childhood tales, but I did retain some form of hope after watching the brilliant translation of Lord Of The Rings. I knew an epic journey visually and full of thick substance and character development was not a complete impossibility, and I’m happy to say it wasn’t a disappointment. To begin with, the visuals of Narnia weren’t exactly as I had visioned them from my imagination as a child, but they were splendid nonetheless, and even in moments breath taking. The snow ridden ice world that the White Witch had frozen was delicate, beautiful, but cold, just like herself. The other side of Narnia where Aslan had returned was full of warmth and beauty, and was represented in bright deep colors of red, orange, and yellows. Aside from the basic storyline being conveyed properly, this movie required an amazing set of special effects, and they succeeded.
Next on the plate, or at least mine or any other avid Narnia reader, was how the story actually translated. And in general the directer (Andrew Adamson) and writer (Ann Peacock and Adamson) stayed very true to the basicallities of not only the basic plot line and story development, but the integrity of the characters. I remember wanting to smack Edmund through the entirety of the book and I felt the same way about him onscreen as he carelessly gives away his family for some Turkish Delight. But the likability of Aslan, this magnificent creature, and the fear of the White Witch, not to mention the basic storyline, even the visit from Saint Nick, was just excellent. I’m hoping they relinquish the same homage with Prince Caspian.
The acting was probably the weakest part of the film, even though I think the casting was done well, I just don’t think the brother’s and sisters fell into their character’s comfortably enough. Perhaps by the next film this particular awkwardness will pass. The CGI characters were excellent, with Aslan and Mr. Tumnus being half CGI. Mr. Tumnus was the most engaging character. After Tumnus, Tilda Swanson as the White Witch was absolutely scene stealing.
In the end Narnia wasn’t the disaster I had feared, nor was it the masterpiece that Lord Of The Rings was, it was a fun family film that was both entertaining and interesting, and has many possibilities for it’s future sequels. Narnia gets Three Out Of Four stars.