WEB EXCLUSIVE: Narnia movie not as magical as book

Katie Mallady

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Starring: Tilda Swinton, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell

Directed by: Andrew Adamson

Released by: Disney

Stater rating (out of four): two and a half

It’s always hard to make a movie from a book, especially when the book is wildly popular. The makers of the movie have to make two very different groups happy: the people loyal to the book and the people who just want to see a good movie.

The book in question, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is the second and most popular installment in The Chronicles of Narnia, a Christian/fantasy series written by C.S. Lewis.

At little more than 200 pages, the story easily fits into the film’s 140 minutes of screen time, even allowing for some scenes and details added by the filmmakers. The movie is filmed, not on location in Narnia, sadly, but instead in New Zealand, where everything is filmed these days. The beautiful natural landscapes added significantly to the film’s aesthetic value. (Apparently, it’s a really pretty place.)

Unfortunately, that is pretty much the only good thing about the movie. Unconvincing actors and choreography took a lot of the charm out of the story, and the shoddy directing and special effects didn’t help.

Tilda Swinton and Skandar Keynes are the only two standouts in this otherwise unremarkable cast. Swinton brings style and cruelty to the character of the White Witch, making it easy to understand why she is the most feared person in Narnia. She does this with relatively little screen time.

Keynes perfectly embodies the traitor Edmund, and is able to convey his emotions and motivations throughout the movie. The other three children are played by Georgie Henley (Lucy), William Moseley (Peter) and Anna Popplewell (Susan). Their performances run the gamut from believable but boring (Henley), to lame and contrary to the book’s character (Popplewell), to just plain confusing (Moseley). There is also a disturbing sexual overtone during scenes between Lucy and Mr. Tumnus. Pedophilia in a Disney movie? Well, we’ve never seen that before-

Not surprisingly, special effects played a large part in the movie, and while a few were impressive, many others relied on the obvious use of green screens. It’s disconcerting to see the outline of an actor in front of a background once or twice throughout movie, but it’s downright annoying to see it every few minutes.

For the most of the film, the direction is simple, but effective. Not a whole lot of tricks, but in a good way. That is, until the epic fight scene. Interestingly, most of the visuals from the battle were close-ups on the faces of Peter and the White Witch. And they weren’t doing anything but looking at each other. It just seemed like an odd strategy for, you know, a fight scene.

Overall, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was just OK. It did actually cover the entire original story, and the visuals are truly beautiful, but the acting and directing drag a possibly amazing movie into mediocrity. The visuals make it worth seeing on the big screen, but I suggest going to a matinee.

Contact copy desk chief Katie Mallady at [email protected].