Saturday, December 10, 2005

Spectacular Storytelling

The gorgeous movie version of “The Narnia Chronicles: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” takes your breath away with its spectacular sets and amazing special effects. Although the film is probably too long and frightening for very young children, most other moviegoers will be captivated while watching what happens to siblings who discover a strange land inhabited by talking animals, mythological creatures and one of the meanest witches imaginable. As a Christian allegory, the movie highlights prophecy, forgiveness and sacrifice while weaving cinematic magic throughout almost every scene.

Based on the popular book by C. S. Lewis, the story begins during World War II when London children are evacuated to protect them from frequent bombing raids. The four Pervensie siblings end up in a country mansion with many rooms, a stern housekeeper and an owner (Jim Broadbent) who is seldom seen. When the youngsters decide to play a game of hide and seek, Lucy (Georgie Henley), the youngest, finds refuge in a huge wardrobe closet. Imagine her surprise when she comes out the other side of the wardrobe into a landscape filled with snow!

Of course, Lucy is not believed by her older sister (Anna Popplewell) and two brothers (Skandar Keynes and William Mosely) -– at least not until they all manage to go through the wardrobe and arrive in Narnia. Their adventures in this wintry land ruled by the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) form the basis for the simple plot. Simple, yes. But eminently watchable, thanks to director Andrew Adamson (“Shrek”) and his filmmaking crew as well as to Swinton and Henley, who deliver spellbinding performances.

Once the Pervensie children are in Narnia, they must defeat the White Witch in order to fulfill a prophecy. Unfortunately, one of the brothers betrays the group. How will Aslan the Lion help bring the family back together? What sacrifice will be needed to win the upcoming battle between good and evil? If you have read the book, you know the answers. Even so, you absolutely must see how all this plays out on the big screen, especially the exciting sequence showing two huge armies composed of centaurs, giants, dwarfs, ogres, unicorns, fauns and animals of all kinds ferociously fighting each other on a Narnia battlefield.

No surprise, is it, that I am adding “The Chronicles of Narnia” to my list of the Best Family Movies of 2005?


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