As an RPG fan, The Lord of the Rings trilogy land (Middle Earth) is often the universe where the games are played. However, the books that made me a roleplayer- that opened my imagination- were the Chronicles. Therefore, I anxiously awaited this movie to see the characters of my imagination brought to cinematic life. And it’s true that my nostalgia brought tears to my eyes a couple of times.
The film shows a brilliant fantasy texture with bright colors and gorgeous scenery. The wide array of creatures was stunning and interesting. I loved all of the big cats in battle, and seeing them bearing down on the camera as they rushed into battle made my heart pound. In the final battle, am I the only one who saw Chewie?? Was Chewbacca in Narnia as an homage to the fantasy genre?
But arguably the best part of the film was Lucy Pevensie (played by Georgie Henley). This little actor delivers a variety of emotions without bringing the film to a syrupy consistency. Her massive amount of screen time could have broken the film, but she played the part very well. The part of Saint Peter- I mean, Peter (played by William Moseley)- tends to be a bit foppish and reminded me of mama’s boy Wesley Crusher. One of my favorite actors, Liam Neeson, voices the Lion; his voice was too much Liam and not enough Lion. I think that lack of voice range was intentional, drawing on Neeson’s long history as the protagonist in many films and evoking a quick audience affection for the just Lion.
Tilda Swinson plays the White Witch’s bipolar nature very well. Her costuming was artful, though occasionally it looked a bit like the material was made of handmade paper or the remains in my lint trap. The costume for the major battle, with its lion’s mane and headdress, was the best costume of the film.
I almost hate to mention the following because I’m sure this movie’s creators are already tired of hearing it: doubtless many reviews will draw parallels to the LoTR film trilogy. And yes, at first glance, there are many similarities. I do think that some of the shots were too similar to battle scenes from LoTR, but then, all open-field battles and all fantasy films will be compared to LoTR as the gold standard for many years to come. As for plot similarities, they both draw on the New Testament, so hello, of course there will be similarities. Not only that, but the book authors are contemporaries, so writing style and theme comparability are expected. The Christian symbolism is alive and well and obvious throughout Narnia.
The Narnia books are shorter and less complex fare that translates very well into a feature film with very little cut from it. Despite the obvious parallels other films, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe stands alone as an excellent fantasy film for children, with something for older viewers as well.