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Review: Lions and Witches and Wardrobes, oh my!

It's been a week or more since my boy and I went to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe at our local theater. I keep getting sidetracked by other topics, but I thought I should make some comments before my memory of the movie goes entirely stale...

Let me be clear with y'all up front: C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia is one of my favorite book series. I've loved since I was a grade-school kid 30 years ago, and re-read it regularly. I have seen the latest BBC try at bringing The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and was quite disappointed. So your reaction might be different than mine.

I thought this production was awesome. It rare that I have nothing bad to say about a movie; this comes darn close.

Perhaps our biggest disappointment with the picture was the audience. My Ben is almost 7, and said at the end that the approx 4-year-old girl talking loudly next to him during the entire movie kind of ruined it for him. The theater was packed for a matinee run after the first of the year in a smallish venue—much of the audience was children and their parents. I was amazed at the number of very young children there, and even more amazed at how poorly their parents handled the situation. One little girl behind me started crying to go home during the war scene at the beginning, and didn't stop for 20+ minutes. Not good.

There seems to be a sudden shift of plan among those adapting cherished book material for the screen. Used to be that directors would take horrible liberties with their adaptations. But along with The Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter, to name just two other recent adapted series, have been quite faithful to the source material. (Although one of my favorite tongue-in-cheek moments in The Two Towers is the scene in Osgiliath in which Sam soliloquizes "I know. It's all wrong. By rights we shouldn't even be here." Ya think? At least we were spared Jar-Jaromir. But that's a topic for another day.) One result of this increased fidelity is long movies: in the LWW case 2:12. Another is the apparently inevitable need by the "creative" types to play some game with story—LWW contains a relatively gratuitous, annoying, and intrusive "action adventure" scene that I think most reviewers agree should have just been omitted. But for those of us who love Narnia, this movie is a relief; we no longer need fear what they will do to the next movie.

That's the coolest thing, by the way. With all the adaptations of LWW over the years, as far as I know no one has adapted any other volumes of the series. This seems weird to me; other reviewers I have read have also thought that The Voyage of the Dawn Treader would make an awesome movie. It seems likely that this movie did well enough that a sequel will be made. I reread the next book in order of authorship, Prince Caspian, the other day: it would make a workable movie. Some of the others would be even better. (Just please skip A Horse and His Boy altogether. Uggh.)

Most of the rest of it you can read in numerous other reviews: IMDb has its usual collection of hundreds. I thought the child actors were great, and the effects were awesome. They pulled off Aslan perfectly in my opinion, and that's really hard to do on-screen.

I cried through much of the movie. Go see it. If you haven't read the books, do that first. You won't regret it.

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