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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
Tilda Swinton
Liam Neeson
Ray Winstone
Anna Popplewell
Georgie Henley
Skandar Keynes
William Moseley
James McAvoy
Jim Broadbent.
Directors
Andrew Adamson.
Screenwriters
Ann Peacock
Andrew Adamson
Christopher Markus
Stephen McFeely.
Running Time
140 minutes

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The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe
The wardrobe beckons you to a land of magic, danger and cockney talking beavers.


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Plot
To escape the horrors of the Blitz, the Pevensie children are packed off to live with eccentric Professor Kirke (Broadbent). While playing in his mansion, they discover a wardrobe that provides a portal to the magical world of Narnia. Cue wicked witches, Turkish Delight, talking wolves and a huge smackdown to decide the fate of a kingdom.


Review
The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe
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Warning: The review contains minor plot spoilers.

Bombarded by a whole blitzkrieg of meeja attention positing, “Is it the new Potter/Rings/Krull?” (delete where applicable), it comes as something of a surprise that Disney’s take on C. S. Lewis’ kiddie classic is its own beast entirely. More streamlined than Potter and less compelling than Rings (let’s not mention Krull), Narnia hits all the right bases, but ultimately doesn’t fuel the blood and fire the imagination enough to create the movie Narnia of our dreams.

Unlike the directors of the Potter flicks, director/co-writer Andrew Adamson isn’t bogged down by having too much plot to wade through, and there is a sense of directness and narrative neatness about Narnia that Rowling’s cinematic outings have lacked. Indeed, he takes more chances with his source material. Some of the additions come off a treat — as Peter boards the train for the country, his shared moment with a young World War II Tommy is a touching foreshadow of his own destiny as a warrior — although others, like an action set-piece in which our heroes have to cross an iced-over waterfall while being pursued by the lupine secret police, feel more perfunctory. Still, there is less a sense of ticking off Everybody’s Favourite Scene From The Book, more a sense of getting on with a story.

The warmest surprise about Adamson’s Narnia is that the things that caused the greatest concern pre-movie are the things that have come off most smartly. The kids give across-the-board strong performances, with younger Pevensies Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes in particular displaying impressive subtlety and restraint. James McAvoy finds vulnerable charm as the potentially awful fawn Mr. Tumnus, and the mixture of decent CGI and Liam Neeson’s Qui-Gon Jinn-ness have lent lion king Aslan a noble, credible presence. Thankfully, there’s no aura of tweeness and the film lacks a sense of BBC-teatime-serial quaintness.

If anything, it’s too understated. Tilda Swinton is chillingly effective in her quieter moments as Jadis, luring Edmund to the dark side, but has no real grandstanding, scenery-chewing scenes to etch the White Witch as a truly memorable big-screen villain. Her best moment, the film’s highlight, is the sacrifice of Aslan at the stone table, played as part primal scene, part occult ritual, finding an emotional gravitas — check the big close-up of Aslan’s eye — that the rest of the movie never matches.

What is strangely absent is a real sense of scale and wonder, at least until the climactic battle. Early doors, the ambition is set high — the movie opens onboard a German plane dropping bombs on the Pevensies’ house — but Adamson’s directorial colour soon goes mysteriously AWOL. Early scenes in the woods feel studio-bound, the queen’s castle looks more bland fridge-freezer than magisterial ice palace and, as the journey progresses — from a run-in with salt-of-the-earth Cockernee beavers (Ray Winstone and Dawn French, not as annoying as they sound) to a meeting with Santa Claus (James Cosmo) — there is little to provoke outright awe.

Like most modern blockbusters boasting 1,500 effects shots, the effects quality varies from the great, to the middling, to the poor. But it is only when the movie reaches its final (bloodless) battle that it feels like imagination run riot; minotaurs, giants and dwarves face off against centaurs, satyrs and rhinos, while phoenixes and gryphons strafe the skies. Meanwhile, Adamson doesn’t lose sight of the smaller stories within the big conflict. Unlike Troy or Alexander, this is actually a big battle that you can follow and in which you can invest emotion. If the rest of the movie had the same untethered flights of fantasy, it might have been a masterpiece.


Verdict
It’s a more dynamic adventure than Potter IV but lacks the majesty and richness of LOTR. Still, it’s an enjoyable adaptation and good enough for us to welcome this new franchise.


Reviewed by Ian Freer


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Your Reviews

Average user rating for The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe
Empire Star Rating

Cheetas vs Bears

I wasnt paying that much attention to the rest of the film but as far as final action scenes go this films got one of the best ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by suleiman at 16:33, 01 March 2010 | Report This Post


Cheetas vs Bears

I wasnt paying that much attention to the rest of the film but as far as final action scenes go this films got one of the best ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by suleiman at 16:33, 01 March 2010 | Report This Post


god the kid's acting is poor, well done to james mcavoy and liam neeson ur right its too understated, it doest blow its trumpet like lotr and what they've made is a quite good but utterly forgettable ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ivanahump at 15:29, 27 November 2009 | Report This Post


Cool, man, cool. Really good. Although, it wasn't that brilliant. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 00:40, 22 April 2008 | Report This Post


Cool, man, cool. Really good. Although, it wasn't that brilliant. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by nc_jj at 00:40, 22 April 2008 | Report This Post


Served it purpose.

It was very entertaining and thus i think it served its purpose. Aslan is a technical masterpiece but the kids acting really needs to improve next time round! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by holsy at 14:39, 05 December 2007 | Report This Post


Narnia Is Truly Breathtaking

The trailer For The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe erupted on the cinema screen while I sat anticipating about what to excpect in Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire. Being a grat fan of the beloved book I was excited as could be about it. I went to see it with high hopes after it being critically acclaimed but what I saw was nothing to what I excpected but so much more. This was absolutely fantastic. By far one of the best fims I have ever seen. The plot was simp... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Filmfreak666 at 16:02, 13 June 2007 | Report This Post


Like a lion with no teeth

Not so bad that it's good & not so bad that you want to run from the cinema but certainly there is nothing here to sit down & enjoy. The child actors are just plain annoying, all of them. I haven't been this annoyed by an actors performance since Jake Lloyd in Episode One - aarrrhhgg!!! Don't waste you time with this. Simply read the book or rent out the BBC series from the 80's which is far better. To give this one star would be unfair - it's not Spawn or Jaws 4, giving it 2 stars is ge... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by XVII at 11:04, 28 March 2007 | Report This Post


A Sunny Delight Rings, the first Narnia will captivate youngsters without boring adults. A solid foundation for a fledgling franchise. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 17:37, 10 March 2007 | Report This Post


Surprisingly good

Not as memorable as LOTR but it only has two hours to do what Jackson did in ten, and in its own right it's a very enjoyable family film with a great performance from little Georgie Henley, and a modern score that works surprisingly well in a period film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Caster at 22:45, 12 January 2007 | Report This Post


Pretty Good Really

Only just misses out on 4 stars for lacking a feel of scale. You don't get any idea of how far they';ve travelled, or where, say, the Stone Table is in regard to thhe witches palace. But good enough acting from the kids all round, but McAvoy and Swinton are the stars. It's a great story for kids, but read the book first, because some people have commented on how slow it is to get started, but when you read the book, you notice how quickly it glosses over a beginning which you really need to mak... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pipkin3 at 19:43, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


Pretty Good Really

Only just misses out on 4 stars for lacking a feel of scale. You don't get any idea of how far they';ve travelled, or where, say, the Stone Table is in regard to thhe witches palace. But good enough acting from the kids all round, but McAvoy and Swinton are the stars. It's a great story for kids, but read the book first, because some people have commented on how slow it is to get started, but when you read the book, you notice how quickly it glosses over a beginning which you really need to mak... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pipkin3 at 19:43, 07 December 2006 | Report This Post


Could have been a classic given the material, but it wasnt grand in scale enough for me and moved too slowly in places. Still, the best is yet to come, ie silver chair and last battle. I hope they do the 'actual' first book too, magicians nephew cuz it explains a lot about how narnia was made. Better than crappy potter anyway. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ben29_99 at 12:40, 29 November 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Sucked balls

This movie was absolute shite not a touch on Harry Potter unlikeable no talent actors who you couldnt really give a shit if they lived or died and a cardboard plot make for a very unsatisfying movie going experience ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by spideyfan666 at 01:18, 23 October 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Lighten up!

I enjoyed this film but I did find it a little too 'kiddy' in places.  I know it's based on a childrens book but I was hoping for the Narnia films to be the new 'Lord of the rings' not the kids version.   I liked Tilda Swinton as the Witch but I also imagined Cate Blanchett playing her. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Whiteflag35 at 00:54, 04 October 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, The

I thought it was pretty much what I expected - an entertaining kid's fantasy film. It's not a patch on LOTR but it was never gonna top Tolkein's classic in a million years, the difference in quality between the two tales put paid to that.   Overall I liked it and enjoyed the battle scene, especially that moment of silence before the two sides collide with the cheetahs steaming towards the enemy. ... More

Posted by Fluke Skywalker at 17:47, 02 October 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe, The

boring. slow. poorly acted. bad film. disney gets worse and worse with each film ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by shawshank prisoner at 15:24, 02 October 2006 | Report This Post


RE:

only just seen it. to it is a kids book, with about a billionth the amount of detail of LOTR books, its a good film. i enjoyed it and i liked ALL of the   kids acting. Mr Tumnus was quality! ill watchi it again soon! ... More

Posted by kumar at 00:08, 01 October 2006 | Report This Post


Pretty good. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by huny_monster at 22:59, 21 July 2006 | Report This Post


RE: roar

I'm late to the party on this film as I've only recently bought the DVD but I absolutely love it.   The child actors were great and I was especially impressed with Skandar Keynes as Edmund. I don't think his  performance has been recognised sufficiently given the fact that it was such a difficult role and he was working alongside such a great actress in Tilda Swinton.   He  makes Edmund appropriately abrasive and dark. He also avoids the usual pitfalls, as ... More

Posted by nailpolish at 19:45, 15 July 2006 | Report This Post


roar

I like when the lion talked. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cormac_Dawson at 17:18, 29 June 2006 | Report This Post


family entertainment

Thought it was a magical family orientated film. Liked the innocence of the film. Really thought the creatures were done well too. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by alexisreaver2132 at 10:49, 17 May 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Narnia

Being a big fan of the book and seeing the trailer for the first time i got really hyped about seeing this film. I went to watch it the day it came out and was really disappointed by what i saw! It was bang to the book but i feel it was too "kiddy" for my liking! Aslan was the major letdown for me as i thought he would be more powerful and serious like he is in the book! Not all godly and pussy-whipped like he is in the film! On the other hand CGI was put to good use and the MAJORITY of the cas... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ~Angel~ at 21:48, 06 May 2006 | Report This Post


Narnia

i thought this movie was o for osom it had mint special features and mean actors haha mr Tumnus but leash just sed it sucked as if she could make a film and get it to bigg screen hehe lol well Tinks out!!!!!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TEELAH at 00:23, 06 May 2006 | Report This Post


but you should still take your kids to it... they might still get thier frillz ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chuxtahz_flawless at 21:32, 05 May 2006 | Report This Post


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