A few years ago, Walt Disney Pictures implemented a bizarre policy where they don’t have All Media Press Screenings anymore. At least, that’s what they told me. As such, I’ve been unable to go to advance screenings of most Disney films – even ones that I do coverage on. (For example, I still have yet to see The Greatest Game Ever Played, even though I did some nice coverage on the scoring sessions!) With Narnia, I did a pretty big article about the scoring session, and while there was no press screening that they could get me into, Walt Disney Records was nice enough to send me some passes for an advance screening today, which was filled with what I like to term “common folk”.
I’m going to skip any descriptions of the film, since you should know what the book is about by now. The film runs a little over two-hours long, but is never slow or boring. The children who play the leads are quite good, and the main message points of C.S. Lewis’s novel comes through quite clearly. Liam Neeson voices Aslan, and his deep voice is nicely cast. Tilda Swinton as Jadis the White Witch is also very good in her role, so the acting overall in this film is solid. But it won’t win any awards.
Director Andrew Adamson did a very nice job with the film – everything is laid out clearly and audiences of all ages will be able to follow the plot and dialogue quite nicely. The Christianity element is not overt or in-your-face, but it’s not diminished either; Aslan is clearly a Jesus figure, but he’s not Jewish, and doesn’t make nice wood cabinets. He does, however, look really good for an all-digital creature, and the visual effects are definitely a highlight of the film. Now, there is sure to be some Lord of the Rings comparisons being made, but honestly, there’s not that much in common – both just have fantasy and mythical creatures! Sheesh!
The music, of course, is a knock-out. Harry Gregson-Williams does an excellent job with thematic material, and by the time the battle starts up, your heart will be racing. It’s big, it’s epic, and it’s more than likely on my Top 10 of 2005. Speaking of the battle – it was a bit more violent than I had expected (and I saw it at the scoring session)! This movie might be a bit much for kids under 7/8 years old, and it’s basically a PG-13 film that just managed to get a PG rating.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is definitely worth your time, and be sure to stay for a bit of the end credits – there’s a small coda!