Into the Wardrobe: A Narnia Review

So I saw The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe last Friday, right after Friday prayers at GSC 1 Utama. I wasn’t disappointed. It was exactly as I expected it.

I expected the story to be somewhat thin because the book is in fact thin compared to the other fantasy series written by author C.S. Lewis’s contemporary and peer (J. R. R. Tolkien if you don’t know). Narnia in the entire first book wasn’t quite fleshed out as Middle Earth was in the first 2 chapters of Fellowship of the Ring.

I was concerned that people who aren’t familiar with Narnia would think that the ending is a copout. And judging from the reaction of a lot of people sitting around me a couple of days ago, they thought it was a copout. I prefer Voyage of the Dawn Treader, anyways. Seafaring adventures r0xx0rs, yo. ūüėČ

And Father Christmas showing up in Narnia without an explanation what he was doing there is still out of place as the first time I read it. Foreshadowing of his presence was by Tumnus, and when he appeared all he did was give the children their presents and words of hope then went off to deliver more presents. Why was he there? Why didn’t he help them in the final battle? What standing did he take in the Narnia pantheon? I thought that aspect of C. S. Lewis’s writing just detracted from the rest of the world he created for this book.

But on to the good things. They managed to get the fear and despair of the WW2 blitz and the serenity and beauty of the English countryside down pat. Not that I’ve ever been there at that era, but it evoked some sort of emotion for me. For one thing the entire setup feels very much like an Enid Blyton book, of which I’ve read quite a lot in my childhood. Also, they written the kids (before they complete Narnia immersion) very well, I thought. The tension between them was just great, setting up Edmund’s motivation later on. And young Georgie Henley is just a fine bit of casting for this movie with just the right mix of precociousness and strength in her. I loved her when I first saw her in the trailers and she didn’t disappoint me playing Lucy in the entire movie.

Special effects in the final battle are fantastic. I can’t wait to read up on how they created the centaurs and their movement mechanics in the computer. They look great charging into battle and composited with the rest of the FX elements. Creature design for the movie is top notch.

Although the battle didn’t last long (as for example the Battle of Pelennor Fields in Return of the King) the swordfight between Peter and Jadis is intense and well-choreographed.

Qui-Gon Jinn was also great as the voice of Aslan.

I hope to see it again next week. (He loves trolls, orcs, wargs and that daughter of Ungoliant, Shelob, I’m pretty sure he can handle Narnia.)

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Khairul Hisham J. is a tabletop RPG artist, writer, proofreader, translator, teacher, grad student and learner-in-general.

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