Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia

I had the pleasure to see The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe today at the Rotunda Cinamatheque in Baltimore. So, here's my review of the film:

First let me say I am a huge fan of these books, I've read them many times so I know the stories pretty well. The film strays at many points from the details of the plot, in order to keep it suspenseful and action packed. These deviations are okay as long as they preserve the integrity of the story, which they do, so I'm fine with them. The special effects are far better than any previous rendition of this film I have ever seen, although there were a few moments where it was a little too obvious the actors were in from of a blue (or green) screen. I was especailly pleased with the character of Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy), every time I've seen him dipicted, I have found him creepy or devilish, but this Mr. Tumnus was sweet and charming and actually likeable, as he should be. The actors playing the Pevensie children were also top notch. Kudos to Georgie Henley (Lucy) and Skander Keynes (Edmund) especially.

My biggest beef with the film are the bits of "humanity" they imposed mostly on Peter. In the books he shows strength and leadership from the onset. He's respected by his siblings, and even Edmund minds him in his sulky way. Not so in the film. Peter is a bit too wimpish, constantly wanting return home where it is "safe". I suppose this was to show his genuine concern for his siblings, but to me, it seemed cowardly. Once the children hear the prophesy from the beavers (in the book) there is no question in their minds about what they must do. They never had any thoughts of turning back.

I could go on and on about it, I really enjoyed it. I went as a treat for myself, but also to preview it for my boys. After seeing it, I think it would be too much for them on the big screen. The film really plays up the whole chase of the secret police (wolves) and I'm pretty sure that would resurface in their dreams, sending them to me in the middile of the night. The evil beasts and Jadis herself (Tilda Swinton) are also quite eerie. I appreciate the PG rating ("for battle scenes and frightening moments") for the film because there isn't gratuitous violence or explicit gore where there certainly could be pushing it to a PG-13 rating, but it still is scary for children to watch. In fact, I think the battle scenes are less scary then all the suspense of the chase scenes and watching Aslan's sacrifice. I haven't made my final decision on it, but I'm pretty sure for the ages of my kids (6 and 5) it would be best to view in the safety and comfort of our living room, where we can stop it as need be discuss it. I'm sure they will love it too, bad dreams and all, but my sleep is too important to me.