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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) – Movie Review

The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe movie poster

Written by Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely & Ann Peacock, based on the novel by C.S. Lewis
Directed by Andrew Adamson
Starring Georgie Henley, William Moseley, Skandar Keynes, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton

My Advice: Matinee. But only if you must.

England, during World War II, is getting the absolute crap bombed out of it. The decision is made to get the children of the cities the hell out of Dodge and out into the countryside where they will be safe(r). Thus the four Pevensie children head for the middle of nowhere, to stay with a professor (Jim Broadbent, in need of better facial hair) and his crotchety housekeeper (Elizabeth Hawthorne). While there, and bored, the youngest, Lucy (Henley) stumbles upon a magical wardrobe that opens onto another world: Narnia. There, she finds a kingdom frozen by the evil White Witch (Swinton), and she and her siblings will soon be caught up in a war between the forces of the witch’s evil and the forces of good, led by the lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson).

Let’s address the question head-on, then. How do you take a straight-up Christian allegory, disguised as a children’s book, and make it into a mainstream movie? Well, this movie is one way, but the allegory portion of it simply clunks. Of course, it clunked in the book itself too, until finally Lewis couldn’t stand it anymore and, not content to merely hint around the bush any longer, threw the facade away in Book Seven, screaming “THE LION IS JESUS!!! GET IT???” and making lots of kids the world over feel betrayed. So the fact that the whole sacrifice portion of the movie is a little heavy handed can’t be blamed on the filmmakers here.

And indeed, the fact that the movie isn’t bad, but simply mediocre, can’t be blamed on a lot of people. First up, the myriad effects shops who worked on the film aren’t in trouble: everything looks good. Damn good, in fact. So good that you don’t have a problem with animals who look like straight up animals talking. Towards the end, when I realized the film was just going to meander and not get any better, I at least comforted myself with the fact that the daemons in Golden Compass are going to be perfect when that film finally gets made. But the battle sequence is all the trailer promised, and every minotaur, centaur, griffin, and whatnot all look pretty damn spiffy.

The cast can’t be blamed either. The kids, with the exception of Popplewell (who plays Susan) are all newcomers. Tilda Swinton is a freaking Amazon warrior woman and a pitch perfect White Witch. The voices of all the animals, including Neeson (who appears to be supplanting Patrick Stewart as the new go-to We Need a Voice of Sage Wisdom guy), are all good.

So what happened? Well, first of all, the script happened. Anytime you see more than two names credited (and those are only the ones credited, mind you), that’s a bad sign. But…well, let me give you an example. Somewhere along the line, somebody had a great idea for how to start the film. Back in the day, the concept of the kids being spirited to the English countryside to get them out of harm’s way needed no introduction. We, however, are sixty years past the end of World War II, and most of the kids in public schools in America would be lucky to find England on a map. So somebody said: hey, let’s put some context to this and show England getting the shit bombed out of it. Let’s show the tearful goodbye at the train station and really drive home the fact that they’re escaping from one war only to find themselves in another. And kudos to whoever thought of this idea. But, because Hollywood is involved and infects almost everything it touches, this became a Place to Stick an Action Sequence (TM). What could have been a moment to let us get attached to the four kids and the mom (Judy McIntosh) while they huddle underground hearing the bombs go off overhead instead becomes a time for running around and the kids being in jeopardy (which never feels like real jeopardy at any point in the film) so we can have an explosion. Thanks, guys.

That’s just the start of the script’s problems, as other Action Moments are scattered about, none of them feeling real at all–not even “fantasy real.” And for those folks who think I’m bashing the Jesus Lion, here’s a shocker for you: there should have been less action and more of Aslan. Not trying to bash an adaptation for not being like the book, but there’s a great moment in which Lucy isn’t doing something she’s supposed to, which is taking care of others. And Aslan growls at her to get her to move and do her duty. It’s a great moment–and it and many more of Aslan’s bits are taken away. He’s reduced to being “My First Passion of the Christ” (TM), which is a shame, because at this point we’ve already been exposed to Gandalf and Dumbledore and Aslan’s just going to seem like leftovers. If you’re going to make a film of a Christian allegory, go for broke and do it. Don’t try and spice it up with action and more action to the detriment of the Message. In fact, going at it half-assed merely makes certainly obvious that actions and bits of dialogue can work better on the page than on the screen.

The biggest problem, though, is the direction. I’m no fan of the Shrek franchise, since I think it’s cute but overhyped and simplistic. And one of the co-directors is here helming this film. I think one of his problems is he doesn’t know how to direct people. Notice everything I mentioned up top as far as actors go are voice actors, or established actors like Swinton, who really doesn’t need much in the way of direction. “Be evil as shit” is sufficient. But four child actors? They need direction. They need to be told, for example, that when you walk out of a wardrobe and into a winter wonderland, you’re supposed to at least act like you’re a little cold. It’s pretty freaking hilarious to watch Edmund (Keynes) standing there, able to see his own breath, looking like he’s perfectly warm to begin with, while the White Witch talks about wanting to get him warm. Or when the kids grab fur coats from the wardrobe…it’s pointless, since we’ve just seen one of them fall in the snow and enjoy it. Have you ever fallen in snow? It sucks. So only on two occasions does anybody act like it’s cold…so that’s not good. And here’s another note: when you’ve walked into another dimension, a little bit of wonderment might be in order. I mean, I’ll buy that Lucy thinks nothing of it, because she’s young and at the point where the magical can still sort of happen, but the older children walk in, go basically, “Oh look, we’re in another dimension. Sweet.” And that’s it.

Also, another major problem is that the film wishes it was Lord of the Rings. It’s not. It lacks any of the scale of the franchise it so desperately wants to ape. Somehow Peter Jackson managed to make Middle Earth a real place. Narnia, it seems, looks like nothing special. The only thing that’s epic in any way is the final battle, and that also smacks of desperation since it looks like Jumanji Goes to War. In fact, some shots are lifted right out of Jackson’s trilogy. Most telling is the overhead travelling shot of the party as they move over a high ridge–sorry, but three kids and two beavers lacks the majesty and triumph of seeing that scene with hobbits, a dwarf, a wizard, an elf, etc. etc. etc. A scene in which the party gets off the road to avoid their pursuers had us joking that the White Witch must “smell the ring.” It’s sad, really, that instead of letting this movie be its own thing, they so obviously cowered in The Shadow of Jackson.

And here’s the major thing: where’s the thrill of the first film that leaves you waiting for Prince Caspian? Nowhere. What could have been a triumphant entry in a new major fantasy franchise arrives bland and undercooked. Its crime isn’t that it is bad, but it’s simply…not good. Mediocre is the right word. If you absolutely must see it on the big screen–and really, despite the promise of the trailer, you’re not missing much if you have a decent sized TV at home–then catch a matinee. Don’t pay full price.

65 comments

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  • Wow. I’m really going to take the advice of a person who writes in the manner of a twelve year-old. Nobody cares what you think. You’re not a real critic.

    It’s just sad that Rotten Tomatoes has such low standards.

  • Dear Anonymous Person:

    Wow, you really told me. That crack about not being able to find England on a map really hit home with you, didn’t it?

  • Dear Widge:
    How can you attack the direction of the actors by Adamson, and also praise the wonderful performances by all the actors. You cannot hold a bias against a director when reviewing a film. Nor do I think you gave the film fair consideration as it stands alone, rather than as Lord of the Rings 4. Though I suppose you can have your opinion. I just needed to voice mine.

  • Man: Thanks for some insightful comments. What a nice change. Okay, here’s the deal…if you’ll check again, you’ll note that the only person who got high praise was Swinton. The children, who carry the film, are merely held as blameless in my review. A far cry from wonderful. It reminds me a lot of Lucas’ direction, honestly. The people who do well are those in the least need of direction. Do you really think Liam Neeson needs to be directed in how to be an inspirational leader who kicks ass? Meanwhile, the kids, who lack the experience and must also carry the whole film on their backs, really need the help. The help that, IMO, Adamson couldn’t provide.

    I’m not biased against Adamson–I’m merely pointing out that, oddly enough, in a film by the guy who co-did SHREK, the characters that are CG are better than the real actors, with the exception of Swinton who doesn’t really need direction. And to be fair, it was the filmmakers who started the whole LOTR comparison, not me. I go into every film with an open mind–believe it or not–and while I wasn’t expecting this to be LOTR4, I certainly wasn’t expecting it to try and lift bits from Jackson’s franchise.

    I really wanted the film to kick ass. I don’t think we can have too many badass fantasy franchises in the world. I have nothing against the series as a whole, except that they’ve re-ordered the books now and that just IRKS me. Thanks again.

  • Well, You sound like you did not like the book either that has been a classic and a smash among kids for years. This movie will be a success to.
    So much for taste on your part. E.t., Matrix etc. all use similar Good – Evil, Messiah, Dead-Rose “allegory” So what it makes agreat way to tell a story.

  • Widge,

    I saw an advanced screening of the film last weekend and, honestly, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m a huge fan of the books and I couldn’t help but think something about the film was a tad…off. My friend who went with me agreed–why show us ANOTHER LOTR-style battle sequence? We’ve seen it before. The way they kept cutting away from post-resurrection Aslan really threw the picture, I think. It’s called “the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, not “the Really Big Battle Sequence, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”. I read an interview with Adamson early on in the filming that when he read the books, he always thought the resurrection scene was dull. He wanted to see the battle (which takes all of two pages in the actual book, but here consumes the last third of the picture). Big mistake. I think it would have been MUCH more interesting to see a Lion breathe life into a castle full of statues…not more orcs and ghoulies gnashing their teeth on the battlefield. Mediocre is a very good word for this film. You go in hoping to see something strange and different. In the end, you feel like you’ve somehow seen it all before.

    Also, I could have done without the out-of-place talking animal wisecracks. I was half expecting the next talking horse to be voiced by Eddie Murphy.

  • I don’t know why some of you are upset with the review. It is just an opinion. You guys are defending the movie so odds are that you have made up your mind to go see it already. If you enjoy it, it does not matter what the review states. I myself, am not sure if I’ll see it in the theatre or just wait for the DVD.

  • Marty: Let me be even more clear if it seems like I didn’t like the book. I think as a kid, the book is great. If you read it when you’re older, you realize that it’s an Allegory with a capital A, and those that I have talked with who read it that way for the first time think it feels preachy. Me, I read the whole series when I was a kid. I still have my boxed set with them in the PROPER ORDER. So no, I have no problem with the books. As for taste…who said critics needed taste? Some critics liked THE HAUNTING for God’s sake! Where were you people when THEY needed smacking, huh?

    Forky: Thanks for your comments. I had not read that interview with Adamson but that’s never a good sign. When the resurrection scene is the Point of the freaking book and you want to spice it up some, yeah…problems will ensue. And believe me, Hollywood saw it as “the Really Big Battle Sequence, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”

    Dan: It’s amazing how people feel attacked by these things. I didn’t even tell people to avoid it at all costs…I just told them to catch a matinee! People only get this defensive when they’re uncertain of their own position, I believe. Otherwise, why would you go to all the trouble of commenting on some joker’s site? Check out my Episode 3 review if you want to see some more. There’s enough there to write a thesis on the subject. Thanks for your comment.

  • To the one who made the crack about writing in the style of a 12-year-old: Actually, I get the sense that most “REAL” critics are pretty darned dim. Mission Impossible was ripped for being too complex by several of the nation’s top critics, in spite of being a remake of a Tom and Jerry cartoon. In spite of the very relaxed format (appropriate for a blog; this ain’t the NY Times), the reviewer seems uncannily capable of constructing an argument for a movie critic.

    TO THE REVIEWER:

    You’ll notice that I qualified last sentence. Your comment about the final book “betraying” millions undermines your credibility that you have no grudge against the Christianity infused in Narnia. Which is too bad, because your comment about Aslan growling at Lucy is very insightful. I question the faith of any Christian who hasn’t felt growled at by Christ… except for the precociously saintly like Therese of Lisieux.

    Thematically, doesn’t it make sense to you that an allegory of Christ would be a bit revelatory when it comes to Revelations? A very point is that Jesus becomes objectively knowable to any who would see him. And, of course, God forbid a Christian should entrap a child into wanting to know Jesus! That’s a betrayal?

  • Dangus: Thanks for your comments.

    We’re obviously agreed that we’re dealing with books that are Christian allegories here. And you make an excellent point that THE LAST BATTLE is a revelation about…Revelation. And yes, I doubt literally millions of children were betrayed by the series’ end–hyperbole on a site with a coffee theme? No! Hell, I was just happy to see Neil Gaiman felt the same way I did.

    Anyway, I think we’re looking at this from two different angles. From your comments, you’re more than likely a Christian. I myself used to be one, not anymore. So I think if you look at the series as a straight-up Christian allegory…then yeah, your point is well made. But I’m looking from the standpoint of the series as a fantasy series that just so happens to BE a Christian allegory. Nobody handed me the books and said, “By the way, this is about Christ.” They didn’t because they knew they didn’t have to. Lewis would take care of that through his writing. But since everybody already knew they were dealing with a Christian allegory, the fact that he hammers the point home with the final book just leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t need that final “tearing the curtain away” aspect of Book 7 to tell me what I was reading. It made me feel like Lewis thought I was stupid and needed to have it spelled out for me.

    And just to be clear, it’s not even the religious aspect of that that bugs me. Philip Pullman made the same mistake at the end of HIS DARK MATERIALS by being unfair to his characters all because he needed to Make His Point. And his Point is a definitely Anti-Religious one. So. I think when you break the allegorical fourth wall, so to speak, you lose some of your readers. Your Christian kids reading this won’t get lost because they’re already believers. And I think you would want more non-Christian kids to want to know more about the “message behind the curtain” than not.

    Great comments. Thanks again.

  • I’ve read some reviews of the film that come down really hard on Lewis for not being particularly subtle with his allegory. There’s a perfectly good reason for that: Lewis wasn’t hiding anything. He was once quoted saying that the ‘Narnia’ books were his spin on what might’ve happened if Christ came to a different world. So to pooh-pooh Lewis for being preachy or heavy-handed is kind of missing the point. His goal (in ‘Wardrobe’) WAS to retell the crucifixion/resurrection story. And I think we can all agree that he achieved what he set out to do.

    I read ‘Wardrobe’ for the first time when I was six or seven (my parents believed children should read! I know, right?!). Rather than being traumatized by images of Jesus with a mane, the book opened my young eyes to the notion that there was something beyond the world of the literal–that often there can be a hidden, deeper meaning to seemingly simplistic things like fairy tales.

    I believe it was USA Today which recently ran an article about allegory in ‘Narnia’. Many of the people they interviewed encouraged parents not to tell their children that they’re reading, for all intents and purposes, Christian fantasy (and really, children’s Christian allegory like ‘Narnia’ is the foundation of all modern fantasy–don’t believe me? Take it up with George MacDonald, “the Father of Fantasy” whose fantastic, allegorical works inspired Lewis and Tolkein to write their masterworks). I think it’s too bad that some kids may miss out on a great opportunity to begin looking at the world with a new pair of eyes.

    Just my two cents.

  • I haven’t seen the film but your review was hilarious. My friend has seen Narnia and was a bit freaked out by Mr Timmus, who seemed a bit of a perv.

  • Most of the negativity towards this movie seems to stem from complaints about the source material itself, and not the movie. I have no problems with the allegory that goes on. If you know anything about Lewis beyond Narnia, you will know that he was a Christian who wrote many books on faith, belief, and God. I still fully enjoy the Chronicles so I have no issues with the story being “too simplistic” or anything of that sort.

    Widge, one of the things you mention is that you don’t like how they are going to do the series in the wrong order. That is not entirely true. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was the first book that Lewis wrote in the series, followed by Prince Caspian, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Horse and His Boy, The Silver Chair, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle. The books were only re-ordered afterwards. Personally, I think that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is the perfect place to start, since The Magician’s Nephew would not make for a very exciting movie.

  • All the reviews I have read compare the movie to Lord of the Rings. Guess what? I haven’t seen that movie! I read the Tolkein books when a teen, and have felt no desire to re-read them, as I found them somewhat overwrought and pretentious. I got the impression the movies suffered from the same problem. I will go to see The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and won’t compare it to any other movie. By the way, critics have their opinions. Other people have theirs. That explains why Adam Sandler movies are popular, even when only one critic out of 50 likes them.

  • Alex: Sorry for the confusion…you’ve got it all backwards. I like the original order of the books. Placing them in the new, improved order with NEPHEW coming first was a mistake IMO. The boxed set I have has them in the original order with LION first.

  • Don…hmmm, yeah…I see your point. One big expensive fantasy franchise being compared to the big expensive fantasy franchise that is being released directly after it…yeah, I see where all the critics who do that are totally off base. Thanks for setting us straight on that.

  • Alex: Took some digging but here’s the one very similar to the one I have, someone’s selling it on eBay: Linky. The only difference with mine is that, if you notice there’s a frame that has the illo on the cover of HORSE AND HIS BOY, and the rest of the cover’s white…if I’m not mistaken, I think all seven books are like that. But yes, there was a time when the books were sold in the proper order.

  • I haven’t seen the movie yet, but what you say about how they write the bombing of London makes me nervous.

    Also, I sincerely doubt they can get any further than the BBC series – the Silver Chair. Voyage of the Dawn Treader should be very fun to watch, but how in the world will they do A Horse and His Boy, with its “Arabian” setting, The Magician’s Nephew, which is even more blatantly Christian, and The Last Battle, in which, if I’m not incorrect…[removed for spoilers -W]

    The Last Battle was not a fun book to read. Even from a literary standpoint, it was just badly written; scenes were ill set and characters and their actions seemed contrived.

    I really think making the movies past the 4th book would be utter folly. I’d love to get your opinions on that.

    I also wonder about the big battle sequence in the movie – the battle sequence in the book isn’t actually given a whole lot of space – sure, there are creatures fantastical, but I never got the impression that it was hordes and hordes of beasts. I really just remember Giants and Centaurs and Talking Mice. Seeing the Lord of the Rings-esque armies confused me in the previews.

  • Widge – that ebay link you give has the books in the right order, but I don’t believe their copy of A Horse and His Boy is the correct one. There were many printings of the books, obviously, but the Horse and His Boy they show belongs in a set (the one you have), in which all the covers are white.

    The other books they have are older ones. I have several of that set, and I read the white covered set when I was a kid.

  • Will: Hey, I yanked the spoilers from your comment just in case somebody stumbles upon them by accident. But to answer your question, yes, you’re right.

    As far as the later books go, I don’t know if I can speak to how folly-filled an attempt would be to make them. My strongest memories are of LION, VOYAGE and BATTLE. VOYAGE being my favorite. It probably would be a very bad idea to make them if they follow the same pattern they did with this one, trying to bump up the action like they did.

    And thanks for the help on the boxed set. My set’s on the shelf at home, so I couldn’t easily snag it to check and see.

  • Widge, I didn’t say there was no point in comparing the two movies, I was (very clearly) implying that that is not valuable to some viewers. Ease up, dude. You may be right. I don’t know, because I haven’t seen any of the Ring movies or Lion. By the way, the scene where the party has to get off the road to avoid the Witch is in the book. Why should the film makers leave it out?

  • Don: You seemed to be taking critics to task for comparing LION to LOTR, which just seemed kinda whacked to me since believe me–Walden Media and Disney are going to be comparing their box office and everything else to LOTR. LOTR is the yardstick for such things now. And you misconstrue: I’m not saying leave the scene out, but you can’t tell me that they didn’t realize they were making their scene look like the lost twin brother of the scene from LOTR where they get off the road to avoid the Wraith. There could have been a lot of better ways to handle that scene that didn’t involve looking you borrowed storyboards from Jackson. And indeed, could have made for a more suspenseful scene, if that’s what you were going for.

  • Here’s the one you guys are talking about. It has a 1970 copyright inside–my parents obviously got them much later, as I wasn’t born until 78, but here’s a set on eBay exactly like mine: Linky.

  • Well, Widge took my comment down. That’s kind of a shame. For a guy who is as enamored of profanity as my 13-year-old nephew, you’d think he’d have some respect for freedom of opinion. But, in words of Kurt Vonnegut, so it goes…

  • Bill: Widge never had your comment up to begin with. All comments are moderated and you may see it, but no one else will until I hit the button. I have a healthy respect for freedom of opinion. You’re free to have your opinions all day long. You may notice that at no time did my vaunted psychic powers overwhelm your opinions in your own head–mayhap you are wearing a bigass tinfoil hat. The funny thing about owning a website, though, is that you get control over what opinions get expressed on it. If I feel a comment isn’t worth reading I won’t hit the button. The only reason I hit the button on yours is because I wanted to make it clear what level of control Bill has on a site that is not Bill’s. Otherwise, since I’ve already been compared to a teenager once in this thread, there would be little point, since it’s not exactly an original thought. You are, however, free to start your own website and I promise to come by and let you delete my inane commentary on your posts. I look forward to it. Just like I look forward to you coming back here…because who’s more the fool, the fool who supposedly swears like a 13-year-old, or the fool who comes back to the site run by the fool who supposedly swears like a 13-year-old because he wants to see his comments up on the first fool’s website? Thanks for the page views.

  • I got here through Rotten Tomatoes. You’ve got yourself a new regular reader, and I appreciate that you addressed every question I had about the film without spoiling anything. I’ve got a 61″ widescreen DLP, so I’ll wait for the DVD. Thanks a lot.

  • Frankie: You’re very welcome. Thanks for the comment. I only have one question. With a 61″ rig like that…why do you ever leave the house? Wowzers. Party at Frankie’s everybody.

  • Hey, i appreciate the honesty in your review. I love both Tolkein and Lewis (but read them for completely different reasons). I think it’s funny how hyped up LOTR movies have become. I thought they were amazing, but compared to the wonder and depth exuded by the books (with an amazing amount of faux history woven throughout) the movies were just another effects jacked extended battle scene. What made LOTR a great movie is quite the opposite of what made it a great book. I became very suspicious when i saw that Disney was doing Narnia… then Adamson signed on and I groaned. I’m still going to see it (likely as a matinee as you suggest… gotta save the bucks!) and will probably enjoy it, but I have a feeling i’ll share your sentiments regarding the battle scene vs. Aslan. Thansk for the comments.

  • Adam: Thanks for your comment. Couple things. First, I agree with you that I don’t think the LOTR movies were the second coming. Um, no pun intended, considering the context. In a nutshell, I thought the first film rocked balls, the second film wobbled a bit, and the third film recovered a little. But I think that something all of us, even Bill, can agree on is that in a knife fight between books and movies, books win every time. Seldom do movies do things better than books. Occasionally they’ll come up with cool spins on things that weren’t in the books (for example, having the Crow be able to “share pain” worked for the movie, I thought) but even rarer are where the movies are actually better than the books. The only example that springs to mind of that is STAND BY ME, which is only because in the original novella King didn’t know where to end the story IMO. But yeah–wonder and depth? As a general rule, no contest.

  • And that is the trouble with adapting any book to movie. We all know that books reside in our imagination and it is just so. All unique, and no story is the exact same across our collective imaginations/minds/etc.

    The problem lies, that we all remember and grew up with these famous fantasy stories. For me, it was the Narnia stories how I remember them as a child, with fond memories. I now find myself at the age of 30, elated that they adapted this story to the big screen.
    Unfortunately, as your review points out, Hollywood has their ‘say’ and this is a big unfortunate.

    No matter what, however, this story will never live up to what is in our minds. This is a magical story to those who read them as a child. They can never duplicate that.

    This being said, we just have to appreciate this movie for what it is. Some reviews say it is just as the story is, others slightly differ on this. I am very dissapointed, however, to read your review about how they hyped the battle vs. the Aslan-resurrection-theme.

    Oh well, in the end, hollywood wins. This is a shame.

    By the way Widge, I love that you brought up the ordering of the stories and having a look of the old hardcover editions…wow…brings back memories of checking out the books from the book-mobile in grade school. Those illustrations on the cover…nostalgia.

    Good objective review.

  • Sorry about the spoilers – I don’t usually visit your site (I think I will in the future, after browing around – it looks like a lot of my interests are covered by your content), so I didn’t know the protocol for posting spoilers.

  • WEDGE, apon thinking about it, I suppose the whole “sheep and the goats” aspect of it may ruin the fun of the series for a disbeliever. I guess I was thinking firstly more of my college roommates, a Muslim and a Jew (can you believe the three of us as great friends?) who weren’t turned off because the separation of sheep and goats was based on what was in the character’s hearts, not their group identification (i.e, having “claimed” Christ). But we’re all from NY; I know Christianity has different overtones elsewhere.

    Next, because of your reference to so many millions, I was thinking about Japanese and (Asian) Indian kids, and the like. I believe Buddhism, Shinto, Islam and Hindi would find little offense in The Final Battle.

    Lastly, I was thinking of what I suspect was Lewis’ largest concern… the vast numbers of children from Western countries who vaguely consider themselves Christians but have no real image of Christ.

    I can see how a disbeliever (i.e., one who believes in an absence, as opposed to a non-believer who simply doesn’t believe in a presence) can take it as a bit of a slap in the face. And in that category would also go many Jews who identify more with their Jewish heritage than with Jewish spirituality, or who might think of Christianity more as a malevolent perversion of their faith (like a lot of FReepers, including, on occasion, myself, view Islam) than the way my roommate did, who saw Christianity as gentiles not QUITE getting it.

    WILL, I agree that each of the last three books has severe problems with being made into a movie. Each has severe thematic problems of the sort I discussed above. (My Muslim roommate took no offense at “A Horse and His Boy,” by the way. He actually liked that a Narnian land was sorta Arab. He took it as being included in a part of a blessed existence, even though there were political differences with Narnia. OTOH, I was waiting for him to explode when he got to Tash, but unlike me, he didn’t see Tash as Islamic.)

    Also, the last three are out of order in the time line. Five and Six jump backwards in time, and then 7 reunites all the characters in the same time. And do we hold off on Five until Lucy is a grown woman? Then how do we deal with Jill still as a child in Seven?

  • WILL

    Actually, now that I remember, my Muslim roommate saw Tash as more of a Baptist preacher issue. And I know that some Baptists see Tash as the Pope.

  • Will: No worries on the spoilers. Just trying to protect those who want to go check out the books. And thanks for wanting to stick around. We don’t bite. Well, Scott does, but just keep your hands clear.

  • So are they going to make a Golden Compass movie?
    I heard of the play.

    By the by Neil Gaimen was on Talk of the the Nation the other day talking about Chronicles. I am sure you can check out NPR for the replay.

    There are some aspects that Neil brought up that I had forgotten about, such as how the girls could not fight, even though Susan got a bow and could only use it for defense or some such thing.

    Thanks for the review though

  • Rox: Just remember the Law of Relative Development. Everything is in development as a movie. So to answer your question, yes. Let’s hope they fix the ending of the third book.

  • For me, the “the lion is jesus!!! get it???” moment of HDM, as it were, was the end of the second book. Except it was more the other way around. More of, “You thought this was an allegory??? Nope, if you call yourself a Christian, your God is a bad, bad deity!!!”

  • PJC: Well, I only compare Narnia to HDM not as them both being allegories, but both being series in which the Message overpowered the characters. I find that easier to forgive in an allegory than in a flat out fantasy series, which HDM, IMO, is. Pullman, I think, was more concerned with how religion can keep people from a direct interaction with God than with how God is a bad-deity-no-biscuit. But that’s just me. One of these days I’ll write up a good ending for HDM like I did with the Matrix, just to get it out of my head.

  • I’m hoping to see the movie this weekend, but don’t worry I wont argue more about it once I see it, its been overly argued already.
    Im kind of hesitant about the movie, but I guess seeing it won’t kill me. I love the books, though I dont think they’re the best written work ever, especially not the Lion, the Witch… (for some reason, and unlike everyone, I find it to be the most boring, but still the most significant, as all the others seem to bring you back to it, and is probably the one that lingers best in memory). ha, what do you know, I started discussing about it. Anyway, I just wanted to send a message to congratulate you for the site and reviews. You look pretty cool and I enjoyed your reviews, so Im planning to come back whenever theres an interesting movie I’m interested on

    Alex

  • I laughed through the whole thing. It was all Deep Roy’s fault!

    My friend who hates Deep Roy. She claimed that if you had but one shot with an arrow in any movie it should always be aimed at Deep Roy. He is like the male equivalent of Linda Hunt.

    Man where to begin. Aslan I thought was too small. I imagined him to be freaking huge. Yes, this one is larger than one fould in a normal savannah but I thought he would be huge.

    The kids were ok. The scenery was ok. I guess I see the movie as just that, an ok flick. I wanted to believe that when the children were being dropped off at the station, Angela Landsbury from Bed Knobs and Broomsticks should motor by on her motorcycle. (That was a Disney flick)

    I really thought that Tilda was a very well played witch. I liked Mr. Tumnis. On a whole I was not really inspired. Beaver banter was a bit too much I think, if you are going to use someone like Dawn French then really use her.

    For the adults out there, go and see Capote!

  • Yeah, Tobias and I were talking about that…that Narnia would turn out to be, in reality, the Island of Namboomboo, and Aslan and the White Witch would face off with a soccer game at the end. Which would have rocked, IMO.

  • >>Of course, it clunked in the book itself too, until finally Lewis couldn’t stand it anymore and, not content to merely hint around the bush any longer, threw the facade away in Book Seven, screaming “THE LION IS JESUS!!! GET IT???” and making lots of kids the world over feel betrayed.
    >>

    Um, actually, that’s not in Book 7, or in any of the books. The word “Christmas” in LWW is the only overt reference to Christianity in any of the books.

    >>
    And here’s the major thing: where’s the thrill of the first film that leaves you waiting for Prince Caspian? Nowhere.
    >>

    It may be that we’re less pumped for Prince Caspian than we were for The Two Towers, because in this case, the story appears to be over. Even in Potter, when an individual movie is over, the meta-plot with Voldemort remains.

  • Graeme:

    1) The only “overt” reference? So because the books only mention Christmas outright, all this stuff about them being a Christian allegory was just crazy talk?

    2) The story only appears to be over if you didn’t stay for the credits. They very “overtly” implied/threatened a sequel with the little coda that featured two major characters. And maybe calling it The CHRONICLES of Narnia was a little less “overt” than you’re used to.

  • Well at least the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise wont have to shoulder the burden of carrying Disney (could this statement have a religious connotation?)

  • Yeah, I think you’re right. $109M is the worldwide estimate. And even with a budget of $180M to make back–not counting marketing–all they need is to do a couple more solid weekends, even with a 50% dropoff, and DVD will take them up over the edge. Now what’s going to be telling is the announcement of NARNIA 2 & 3 being filmed back to back to make sure they snag Ed and Lucy before they get too old. Also, watch for some more announcements along the line of New Line’s previous HDM announcement. Which leads to an interesting line of conversation: what’s the next book franchise that will be headed for big screen treatment? Of course, Hollywood doesn’t understand that other book series may not have the same draw as Tolkien or Lewis. They never see it that way. So another line of conversation is: which book series adaptation will fall on its face first? I’m speaking strictly in box office terms, of course…

  • “…the book opened my young eyes to the notion that there was something beyond the world of the literal” … “I think it’s too bad that some kids may miss out on a great opportunity to begin looking at the world with a new pair of eyes.”

    With all due respect but whenever I read somebody going all out like that “Oh it opened my eyes!” aimed at especially young people it builds up all my maternal instincts to protect my children from everything all too much in flames about subtile preaching, teaching and what not.

    The books may be beautiful and they may actually really give you a nice perspective on the world you know. But we are not blind people or keep our eyes closed to something. Growing children are very receptive to influences so gentle and subtile that they must also grasp a good sense of reality before taking off into the depths of phantasy worlds.

    I do not mean to go into a religious discussion. But I would rather not have my kids read books or watch movies that play with a childs mind.

    We’ll watch Narnia, and we have read the books together. But one thing my kids know:

    This is the real world. You’re mean to enjoy it, learn as much as you can. You may or may not embrace any religion that you like. But remain watchful that you do not forget who you are and what you are.

  • I see….
    “I do not mean to go into a religious discussion. But I would rather not have my kids read books or watch movies that play with a childs mind.”

    I am afraid Hanna all good literature does that….
    Writing and reading “plays” with the mind… But the real twisting of a child’s awareness is the direct influence of the parent’s philosophy or belief that struggles to create the world view that comforts the parents perceptions of wholeness and wholesomeness…
    .children will either choose or reject contra to the parents agenda….

    “This is the real world. You’re mean to enjoy it, learn as much as you can. You may or may not embrace any religion that you like. But remain watchful that you do not forget who you are and what you are. …”

    I see you be programming your children with your new age sensitivities….
    You “maternal instincts” is nothing more than and attempt to give your children “the truth “ and a rejection of those philosophies that are not real in your mind….
    It sends chills down my spin when I read comments like this. Its always the first step to emptying out the libraries. People seem to want to purify others after they get done with their children…..Seems to me we will start with the Christian titles first,,

    Would you be in favor of “dumping” or “parental intervention” in the work of the wizard of Oz because its teaches Populism?…….

    I getting away from what I wanted to say. I loved the review.. Have not laughed as hard in years. since reading the review of Star Trek The undiscovered Country it was a Black militant paper….”Mr Spock is a Uncle Tom” and went on to highlight the type of agenda that it perceived in the latest Star Trek Offering….I Must show this to my students someday. This will be great example in how not to make ones presumptions and prejudice so painfully visibly in their attempts at “reviews”….

  • Andrew: Glad my review was entertaining to you. Your comment has depressed the hell out of me, though, since I would expect a teacher to know how to properly use capitalization, apostrophes, and…did you actually type “I see you be programming”? As long as Hanna “be programming” her kids with grammar skills, she’s okay in my book, “Professor.” You “be having” a nice day.