Saturday, December 10, 2005

Chronicles of Narnia

C. S. Lewis wrote the Chronicles of Narnia, a collection of relatively short stories that combined as a whole to describe the world of Aslan, talking beasts, wicked witches, fawns and fryads and of course the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. Each book, beginning with The Magician’s Nephew until the Last Battle, gives us a unique look at a fantasy world not quite like any other. When one read the tales one can’t help but think of something from the pen of Enid Blyton fairy stories, Arabian nights and The Lord of the Rings. The writing style is simple yet there is a complexity beneath it that both entertains children as well as gives adult more to think about. The distinction between good and evil is clearly written out and there is a child like quality that the casts display to make each adult find their inner child and wonder in amazement of the world of Narnia. Yet beneath all the simplicity there is a story told that will transcend any age and be enjoyed by all made all the more memorable by casts like the humanistic and paternal Aslan, the brave little Rapadecheep, King Caspian and the crew of the Dawn Treader and the amusing pessimistic marshwiggle.

Thus the basis for the new movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Narnia is a world apart from our own ruled by the lion Aslan, creator and protector of the realm. The movie director decided to skip the first book due to its brevity as well as the difficulties it would bring it to the big screen (read my lips no battle scenes thus nothing to occupy two hours with). Cinema goers does not need to read the first to understand the movie but it helps to tie in some loose ends like who is the professor, how was Narnia born, who is the witch and why is she so powerful as well as the origins of the Narnian creatures. The Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy were taken to safety to live with the professor in the countryside during the world war when London was being hit by the Blitz. There Lucy stumbled upon a carved wooden wardrobe which led her to the world of Narnia. Soon all four would find their way there and be embroiled in the upcoming battle for the fate of the world.

I wouldn't be surprised that the movie will have a large following since the advertising and promotional hype has already been around for more than half a year with trailers and promotions from Epson and others. Many would not have heard of Lewis's works if not for the movie though the book has been around for quite a while now. The adaptation is very well done. I’ve read the book and almost all have been true to the writing of the original though focus has been given to the battles. Comparison will be made with Lord of the Rings since filming was done in New Zealand as well as the digital magic of Weta Works which largely handled the CGI for LotR. So there will be moments that you’ll say “hey that reminds me so much of so and so or that scene seems familiar”. The cinematography is magnificent and battles on the scale of the battle of Helm’s Deep will be the staple here. CGI is seamless and well fleshed out especially of the talking creatures, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, Aslan, Tumnus the fawn, Maugrim and the entire fantasy denizens of Narnia. The movie expands and gives more depth to the characters such as the sarcastic Mr. Beaver and also builds up King Peter as being doubtful of his role to the path of a self confident ruler.

Acting wise I would have to say that the kids still need work though Georgia Henley who plays Lucy did the best of bringing out the child like innocence that is the trademark of her character and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) did a good job as well. Those portraying Susan and Peter needs some work though as Susan was quite week and unbelievable at times but Peter was okay. Tilda Swinton as the Queen Jardis is spot on and her excellent ability to act as sweet and loving as a princess one moment and then morph into the cold hearted tyrant is truly a sight, she handles twin swords well too. The most outstanding cast there wasn’t even real, for I was most afraid that the portrayal of Aslan would be hard to deal with but they got it hands on, he was the regal yet compassionate being that Lewis imagined and his majestic presence is enhanced on screen until we the audience could empathize with Aslan.

The scenery was marvelous, the same effects from LotR are evident large panning shots of panoramic vistas, lush forests, snowy landscapes, cascading mountains and roiling plains. Overall it is a movie that is well translated from the pen to the big screen and will be a favourite of both children and adults. I would go to see it again. If anything among the Winter Blockbusters I would rate this highest, even better than Harry Potter. I also recommend people to go buy the books and read it, so until next time filming for the second part, Prince Caspian has already been announced. Rating: 9/10.

5 comments:

eyeris said...

actually, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the FIRST book in the Chronicles that Lewis wrote, and is the most popular one as well. hence it made sense to adapt THAT book first...

Kervin said...

eyeris: True but he did write the magicians nephew as a prequal and it would help explain much especially the professor's role and the great description on the founding of Narnia itself by Aslan.

Ernest Gil said...

a wonderful read and an amazing journey as you read every single pages, the movie gave much output from the book. LEWIS' classics WHeeewww WONDERFUL!!!

Ernest Gil said...

a wonderful read and an amazing journey as you read every single pages, the movie gave much output from the book. LEWIS' classics WHeeewww WONDERFUL!!!

Ernest Gil said...

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful
I love it, I love it, I love it!!!