Friday night, Becky and I got Narniated…we went and saw The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. And it was really good. I thought it was well-paced, well written, and nicely adapted (I don’t really remember a whole lot about the book, so I can’t say for sure what was different, except for maybe the rapping chipmunk). The CGI work was pretty good, with only a handful of somewhat dodgy moments. Two particular critiques I’d read of the film (from The Onion, whose movie reviews I usually find reliable) I found to be undeserved. “Adamson seems to really want to be directing Lord Of The Rings IV, and the material doesn’t always support his ambitions,” reviewer Tasha Robinson writes, and I have to politely disagree. The tone of the LOTR movies is oppressive — by design, of course — while I found the tone of LWW to be much lighter and more obviously aimed for kids. (I don’t mean that in a negative way, of course.) The two movies share a grounding in fantasy, a big battle, and sweeping landscapes, but that’s really it. LWW does not have the same ambitions as LOTR and nor should it; it’s a fantasy story, a religious allegory, meant to be a lighter tale than Tolkein’s epic.
Robinson also describes the performances of the children as “stiff,” which I would also disagree with. While it’s true that nobody here is going to be nominated for any Oscars, I think that everyone does a perfectly fine job, especially Skandar Keynes who plays Edmund and thus has a more difficult job than the others. (Incidentally, while looking up Skandar’s name on IMDB I also looked up Anna Popplewell, the girl who played Susan. She was born in 1988, making her 17, so it’s almost okay to think she’s hot. We’ll keep you posted.) Honestly, it’s Tilda Swinton as Jadis, the White Witch, who I found least interesting. I don’t think she did a bad job per se, but the character wasn’t nearly as well-done as she should have been.
I’m not a Narnia fanboy, so I can’t say how the devotees will react to this adaptation, but for my part I found it perfectly pleasant and exciting. For parents thinking of taking kids, there’s of course no boobies and very little bloody violence (even during the battle), but there are a couple of scenes that small kids might find pretty frightening.