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Movies: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe
Monday, 2005 December 19 - 8:38 am
No, it's not another Lord of the Rings movie.

So, WOW. The latest screen adaptation of C.S. Lewis's "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" is pretty spectacular.

I've seen two other adaptations, one of them animated, and the other a low-budget made-for-TV affair. After seeing this latest one, I'll assert that this movie could only be made properly with modern computer-generated graphics (and with a large budget). In 1988 (when the last version was made), the technology to properly render a talking beaver simply did not exist. The whole magic of Narnia comes in having a believable alternate world. If you see a guy in a giant beaver suit, that doesn't quite give the same sense of wonder as an actual talking beaver.

Cool special effects aside, the strength of this movie is in the casting. 10-year-old Georgie Henley is simply brilliant as Lucy Pevensie, showing range and emotion far beyond her years. And Tilda Swinton is wonderfully chilling as the White Witch.

The screenplay is pretty faithful to the book. For the most part, that works; but there are a couple of scenes and bits of dialogue that don't translate very well to the screen. They seemed to be inserted out of necessity, simply because anyone who read the book would have demanded to see those scenes. In other parts, it seemed like they cut out some scenes that would have been interesting but didn't advance the plot, leaving the final adaptation feeling a little bit impersonal. I would have preferred they had not inserted a new action sequence (the frozen river scene) and instead worked in more character development.

One other notable thing for me: I thought the soundtrack was excellent. For a lot of people, it'll just be background music; but if you pay attention, there's some really good stuff in there.

Here's the requisite comparison to "The Lord of the Rings" movies:

- Direction - better paced, but sometimes a little too hurried
- Acting - better in the lead characters, not as good in the supporting cast
- Effects - not quite as spectacular, and a few gaffes; but for the most part, believable

Rating: 4 / 5
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Posted by Ken in: moviesreviews

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