Director: Andrew Adamson
Starring: William Moseley, Georgie Henley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, Tilda Swinton, Liam Neeson
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 46
Four children find themselves in a magical land that is imprisoned in winter by an evil witch.
Narnia is a disappointing film. Despite some impressive visual effects, Disney’s influence neuters any sense of realism to the ferocity of the film, the child actors lack force, and the film flows like mud.
At a glance, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe could be a remarkable action film. We’ve got a zoo’s worth of digital creatures filling the story, including a lion for a king and wolves for secret police. The sets are compelling. The story is sufficiently epic. Yet about halfway through this first film of Narnia, I was thoroughly bored. There are too many deadening flaws in this film.
First and foremost, Narnia drags interminably in places. In the film’s defense, I may have been more sensitive to this than others, because I had read the book before seeing the film. In the more important details, the film’s plot stays faithful to the book, so if you’ve read the book, you know what’s going to happen. And part of the problem is that the producers turned a short novel into a two-hour and fifteen-minute movie. There’s just not enough meat in the story to sustain this length of film.
But even with this in mind, Narnia lacks any sense of velocity and pace. Much of the sluggishness stems from scenes that simply go on a few seconds too long. I found myself waiting for the next scene, waiting for something to happen. This film would have been much better with crisp editing that lopped off 20% of the footage. By the halfway point, I was waiting for the damn thing to end.
And then we get to the acting. I’ve commented in other reviews how risky it is to have children attempt to carry an action film. While Narnia never totally flies into the crapper because of its young cast, the major actors lack punch and conviction. Their rawness reminds you again and again that you are watching a film, and it holds you back from any sense of immersion in the story.
The film’s Disney-esque action and violence adds more bricks to the wall that prevents viewer immersion. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the conclusion of the film: Narnia culminates in a long battle in which not a drop of blood is spilled. Now, I’m a big fan of escapist action, but Narnia takes this to a new level. I felt like I was watching and entire cast “play” war. On top of this, the action for the most part is generically choreographed. With the exception of a handful of fast, powerful sequences, the action is static and lifeless. Toss in the children actors and you’re left with a final confrontation that looks fake and has the emotional impact of a dress rehearsal. The shame of this is that the digitally created Minotaurs, Cyclops, and aerial creatures look fantastic. Aslan, the lion king, is a work of art. Used properly, these creatures could easily have created a memorable climax to the movie.
In other areas, the film is decidedly mediocre. The script works well enough, but contains nothing particularly memorable of moving. The White Witch makes for a potentially strong villain, but Tilda Swinton never quite convinced me of her utterly evil nature: perhaps we can blame this on a softening Disney influence as well?
As for babes and hunks ratings, Tilda Swinton has good enough looks and gets enough of an evil vibe going to get the film some points on the babe scale. From the hunk perspective, there are a few centaurs that turn heads, but it’s not a good sign when the hottest males in your film are half horse.
In conclusion, Narnia is a disappointing film. Despite some impressive visual effects, Disney’s influence neuters any sense of realism to the ferocity of the film, the child actors lack force, and the film flows like mud.
No real lions were used in the film.
Consistent Premise: 78
Body Count: 39
Time to First Dead Body: 1 hours, 26 minutes
Special Effects: 60