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STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
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Good 3 Stars
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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

i thought this movie strait sukt ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chuxtahz_flawless at 21:27, 05 May 2006 | Report This Post


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

It was three years in the making, and I do agree on some regarding geographical aspects of the movie, but the final battle was very good and full of variety. I think Adamson is like any director new to the blockbuster arena: he focuses more on the drama.   Still, I know Prince Caspian will be a superior film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by doctorolorinbats1975 at 20:23, 03 May 2006 | Report This Post


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

Is it just me or was the CG very poor? If you think about the budget spent on this film they should have been far superior. On the whole i felt it was a dissapiontment. I'm not just saying thats cos it's a kids film like some people on here have been saying, I love kids films and i'm 24. I just felt it chould have been alot better, more magical, more epic it felt quite rushed in places. It was an entertaining movie but definatly should have been better. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Purple_Jeni at 20:19, 03 May 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Tilda and the kids make this film great

L: Axel Foley L: doctorolorinbats1975 There is a real romantic feel to the air in this film, ry to trim the quote to that one phrase, but that was something I felt too. Watching The Lion... reminded me of my own childhood and that sense of magic I got from visiting the cinema. Especially apparent during the early scenes of discovery, the section from Lucy hiding in the wardrobe through her meeting with Tumnus was wonderful. The scenes accurately captured the glee which a child experiences w... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by doctorolorinbats1975 at 15:40, 30 April 2006 | Report This Post


Meh!!!

I have to admit that Tilda Swanson saves this film from a one star rating from me. She makes the film worth while whenever shes on screen. The kids just stand there like cardboard cut-outs and have no real personality or charisma between them. As for the "Battle" scene at the end, Just watch the LOTR trilogy and see how they should be done. Narnia is a HUGE let down. Watch the LOTR trilogy or the "Harry Potter" films instead. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PaulJohn at 04:16, 30 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Tilda and the kids make this film great

L: doctorolorinbats1975 There is a real romantic feel to the air in this film, ry to trim the quote to that one phrase, but that was something I felt too. Watching The Lion... reminded me of my own childhood and that sense of magic I got from visiting the cinema. Especially apparent during the early scenes of discovery, the section from Lucy hiding in the wardrobe through her meeting with Tumnus was wonderful. The scenes accurately captured the glee which a child experiences when happening... More

Posted by Axel Foley at 17:54, 29 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Could have been alot better

I agree, it's fantasctic! ... More

Posted by Timmy_Brisby_05 at 17:47, 28 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Could have been alot better

I half liked the movie and half felt disappointed by it.   It had a lot to live up too, as it was my fave book as a child and one that was read hundreds of times, so i was really excited to see how it would be on the big screen, having been delighted at LOTR adaption.   It started well and i loved Lucy immediately and Edmund was well cast too. The house and the professor were just as i had imagined and when she stepped into the wardrobe, i was transported back to whe... More

Posted by Newander at 15:48, 28 April 2006 | Report This Post


narnia

narnia, narnia, narnia. why? i mean the cast was pretty solid liam neeson was great, tilda swinton alright and ray winstone and dawn french annoying. the kids were horendous i mean a thought the acting was bad off the kids in the potter films but compared to these they look great. i mean why cast possibly the snobbiesst kids in the world to play ordinary people's kids , because they just dont convince. overall ithought tis was alet down and apart from the battle at the end complete shit. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by frankenstien at 13:38, 13 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Tilda and the kids make this film great

py13.gif]py13.gif]py13.gif]p; Don't forget to mention the annoying children though! ... More

Posted by Jessica_ca_ca_ca at 15:42, 12 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Tilda and the kids make this film great

I saw it again recently and again I heavily enjoyed it.   Now I agree there are some akward geographical aspects in the film, but if anything Empire's review somewhat sounded like a 4 star review: if it's a more dynamic adventure than the Potters, than thank goodness for that.   I do disagree with some of you on the child performances. Georgie Hensley is wonderful indeed but I felt Skander Keynes did very well at being a twat before redeeming himself. William Moseley... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by doctorolorinbats1975 at 10:41, 12 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Tilda and the kids make this film great

it with my girlfriend last night on DVD having missed it at the cinema and loved it, having been a big fan of the book as a child have to say was looking forward to it.t="trebuchet ms"] erformances on the whole, the actress playing Lucy was execptional.t="trebuchet ms"] the whole, true to the story, anything missing was secondary narrative material and making little difference to the storyline.t="trebuchet ms"] mbs up and looking forward to the next one.t="trebuchet ms"]   ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JIm R at 10:31, 12 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Tilda and the kids make this film great

L: PedroSanchez I was pleasantly suprised by this film. It actually exceeded my expectations, but seeing as though my expectations where pretty low then i'm not sure thats a good thing!s aimed more at kid's but its enjoyable. Pro's: Aslan was great, as was Tilda Swinton. The many creature's in the film are pretty cool. The final battle is good (but not great) That cute lil girl who plays Lucy. Con's: Peter is a twat. Susan and Ed are kinda annoying too. So... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Jessica_ca_ca_ca at 10:26, 12 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Tilda and the kids make this film great

I was pleasantly suprised by this film. It actually exceeded my expectations, but seeing as though my expectations where pretty low then i'm not sure thats a good thing!s aimed more at kid's but its enjoyable.   Pro's: Aslan was great, as was Tilda Swinton. The many creature's in the film are pretty cool. The final battle is good (but not great) That cute lil girl who plays Lucy.   Con's: Peter is a twat. Susan and Ed are kinda annoying too. Some dodgy ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by PedroSanchez at 10:00, 12 April 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Tilda and the kids make this film great

pfft..i dont like it when films are exactly what i expected...and this was expected...it added practically nothing to what i'd seen before..uninspired visual effects and plummy 'drama student' acting....needless to say, i didnt like it much.   oh, and Mr Tumness! should've been Mark Heap from Spaced, if you ask me... ... More

Posted by maffew at 22:18, 11 April 2006 | Report This Post


Tilda and the kids make this film great

This is a fantastic film for all age groups with the gorgeous Tilda Swinton as the perfect White Witch, managing to be both regal, villianous and well fit into the bargain. I shudder to think what the irritating, un-sexy Nicole Kidman would have done to the role if the rumours of her attachment to the project had been proved true. The child actors are bloody marvellous especially Georgie Henley who plays Lucy. The film is let down however by a lack of gore in the combat scenes, a rather weak sco... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Martel at 17:41, 11 April 2006 | Report This Post


Narnia

This is a kids film in the same veign as the Harry Potters; an adaptation of a popular kids book with very swish special effects that's actually quite good. I've never read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and so I can't sit here and make pedantic comparasons, neverless I enjoyed this film. I also felt that this film, to some extent, managed to achieve what other films have done in the past; it hasn't dumbed down for the sake of the kids. The massive battle at the end is pretty grand, wit... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Da Big Cheese at 09:03, 10 April 2006 | Report This Post


Narnia Is CooL MAn

Narnia is kl and very amazing and stuff on the second disc is also kl ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Seth at 12:56, 09 April 2006 | Report This Post


Could have been alot better

I recently saw Narnia and i enjoyed it, but i wouldn't be in a hurry to see it again. I thought the final third was very good when Aslan came into it and the build up to the impressive battle. But up unitl then it was very average. The witch wasn't bad or menacing enough to be a really good screen villain, and aside from the battle and aslan the effects were very poor for such a big film. I thought the kids were good enough, Peter was definitely the weakest link. Overall it was a fair adaption o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by MCorcoran at 16:29, 07 April 2006 | Report This Post


3 stars

This is like LOTR for kids, thats the most dumbed down verdict of all time but it's true. Still enjoyable thou enough for boys and girls as well as some reasonably fancy camera work for older member sof the family and people who read the book as a child. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BlueDragon21120 at 15:32, 03 April 2006 | Report This Post


enjoyable

of course it's not middle-earth but as fantasy films go it is enjoyable journey, if you were watching this film as a wide-eyed child this film would certainly become one of those films that you will cherish even when your thirty- although watching it as an adult and a Lord of the Rings fan yes it can be described as magical but just no-where near as enthralling as that first viewing of fellowship ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by doncobaino at 01:19, 03 April 2006 | Report This Post


Narnia

No Lord of the rings but still a great movie. Although Narnia seemed like the places of childrens dreams when at the same time an evil witch was terrorising Narnia. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by premierbaron at 21:47, 18 March 2006 | Report This Post


good ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by luvinfilms at 20:01, 23 February 2006 | Report This Post


The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe

Classic story is finally updated for a modern audience, to great effect. Great entertainment for all ages. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Andyhutch at 19:25, 20 February 2006 | Report This Post


RE: Not what I expected????

Thoroughly enjoyable film which took me back to my childhood.  The story zips along quite well and despite what others have said, I thought the child actors a good job.  What I found refreshing was children playing children rather than shrunken adults.  I was also impressed with the nuanced performance of Tilda Swinton. That said the film has its flaws - some of the effects, particularly the blue screen is poor.  Other effects are pretty good, suggesting that mayb... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Groovy Mule at 16:24, 07 February 2006 | Report This Post


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