Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA/United Kingdom, 2005. Walt Disney Pictures, Walden Media. Screenplay by Ann Peacock, Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, based on the book by C.S. Lewis. Cinematography by Donald McAlpine. Produced by Mark Johnson, Philip Steuer. Music by Harry Gregson-Williams. Production Design by Roger Ford. Costume Design by Isis Mussenden. Film Editing by Sim Evan-Jones, Jim May.
The Christians can go ahead and call Harry Potter Satanic if they want to, but I don’t remember any Hogwarts professors handing knives and swords to children. Considering it is one of the most beloved children’s books ever written, inspired an Emmy Award-winning animated special and a superb BBC miniseries, a big-screen adaptation of C.S. Lewis’ perennial classic novel would appear to be a foolproof project. Well, the wonders of Hollywood never cease, for here we have a dull clunker that starts off with spirit and then winds down slowly (very slowly) to a very overdue conclusion. Three snotty British children and their little sister, stashed away in a country manor to avoid London’s bombings during World War II, discover a magical portal to a mythical land in the wardrobe of an abandoned room. In this place called Narnia, the foursome instantly become part of a quest to rid the depressed land of an evil witch (Tilda Swinton, giving a slyly sexy performance that is the film’s only sign of life) and restore a regal lion named Aslan (voiced with nails-on-chalkboard self-importance by Liam Neeson) to the throne. The narrative is extremely faithful to the novel, save for an unnecessarily pumped-up battle sequence at the end that serves mainly to justify the mammoth running time. Mostly, it’s just a boring copy of Lord Of The Rings, right down to the ugly orks, with badly uneven direction by Andrew Adamson that replaces the spiritual beauty of the original story with an aggravating emphasis on religious allegory. The best moments are courtesy Georgie Henley and her adorable button face as the precocious little Lucy, apparently the only child in the world who isn’t rude to everybody because of her rotten childhood; however, seeing Santa Claus hand her a dagger the size of her forearm for protection will make parents gasp.
Academy Award: Best Makeup
Nominations: Best Visual Effects; Best Sound Mixing
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Original Score; Best Original Song (“Wunderkind”)