Movie Review: Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe

For the last month or so, I've been radiating enthusiasm for this film--I mean, enthusiasm has been rolling off me in giant waves, like an aura, or bad body odor--and this is the sort of situation that sets one up, sorely, for disappointment.

So, was I disappointed?

I was. A bit.

But there's context involved here: part way through the movie, I was stricken down by a headache of such tremendous strength that I actually threw up later that night, and if that was too much information, I apologize, but I have to set up for you what a very bad headache I had, and how my first viewing of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe came to be so badly tainted. I found myself actually hoping the movie would end so I could go home and lie very still in a very dark room.

I did say that I was only "a bit" disappointed, after all, and I'm sure it's nothing a second viewing can't fix, because the first half of the movie was perfect--so much so that I, overexcited as I was, actually started crying when Lucy opened the door to the wardrobe room and there was the wardrobe, draped all mysteriously in a drop cloth, every bit like I'd pictured the room, and Lucy, and the wardrobe. I didn't calm down all through that scene, as she stepped through the coats and into Narnia for the first time, in a scene so simple but so powerful, because it drew me back into childhood, and my first encounter with Narnia.

However, I know now that I went into the theater with mercilessly high expectations. I could forgive the makers of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter films their cutting and rearranging, but I think I honestly expected that, because the book is so short, that Narnia needed nothing--that the film could follow the book scene for scene, word for word.

I didn't realize that I thought this until Edmund took off for the White Witch's castle, and the movie, which had kept til then so close to the book, broke off onto its own track, and scenes began to overlap and characters appeared that, try as I might, I could not remember from the book, and suddenly, things were just different, and I--startled and disoriented and well into The Headache--could not keep up.

They actually invented an action sequence, and I couldn't get past that.

By the time the movie reconnected with the book (only a few scenes later--I don't mean to exaggerate), I had a hard time getting back into the swing of things, and so I missed out on all the fun of the battle, and Aslan, and so on--though I did not miss out on the fact that the White Witch kicked ass. Literally. She was so stinkin' cool.

I've read a couple of reviews of the movie that docked points for the director's heavy hand with the special effects--one even complained that the Narnian snow was too "film studio frosty"--but that didn't both me, so long as the effects didn't get so out of hand that they flattened the characters or the story, for that was my primary concern: the characters, and the story.

And I thought the characters fared incredibly well: the kids were cast pretty much as I pictured them, the White Witch was better than I'd imagined, the Beavers and Mr. Tumnus and Aslan were beautiful, and the sets were near perfect.

My complaint, really, is a small one, and what it comes down to is that I need to see the movie again, sans headache and high expectations--I think I will enjoy Narnia much more the second time.


I've heard two rumors:
a. that a Narnia movie will be released every Christmas for the next 7 years, and
b. that Disney is waiting to gauge the response to Lion, Witch and so on before they begin filming Prince Caspian.
Anybody know which it is? Please, please tell me it's (a).


that one guy said...

"I didn't calm down all through that scene, as she stepped through the coats and into Narnia for the first time, in a scene so simple but so powerful, because it drew me back into childhood, and my first encounter with Narnia."

Oh man, I was completely the same way. I got chills - the good kind. And I'm really sorry about your headache - it sounds like it pretty much sucked.

I think you'll end up loving it after your second viewing, because I KNOW just how much a headache or illness can affect enjoyment. I loved it, and I think I'm allowed to say that Rogue liked (loved?) it too. (I'm not sure if she'll be doing a review or comment on it... I hope so, because I think in this case that she'd be more qualified than me to talk about it. Anyways.)

As for the last point, a sequel is a done deal. I think, originally, they HOPED they could release one a year, but had to wait and see if this one did well first. However, none of that really matters since The Lion, The Witch and the gang kicked butt at the box office. How MUCH butt did it kick? $65.6 million dollars, in the US. That beats the openings of both "Fellowship of the Ring" AND "The Two Towers." In fact, it's the second highest December opening of all time - beaten only by "Return of the King." Worldwide it's made over $107 million dollars - which means that we'll be seeing "Prince Caspian" very, very soon. Maybe not NEXT Christmas, but probably the Christmas after that, and then every year after that.

Thea said...


bugorama said...

hmmmm ... sounds like you had a MIGRAINE! evil-worse-than-headache headache. i hope you feel better now!

Thea said...

Bah. So I hear (about me having a migraine). I feel much much better now, thank you.