Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Out of the lion’s den

- The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe :

Based on the book by C S Lewis Andrew Adamson’s first attempt to bring Narnia to life begins with ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’.

The Pevensie children: Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy venture into the countryside to escape the Blitz only to be hurled into war in an enchanting land named Narnia. Since he has a penchant for dishonesty, a weakness for Turkish Delight and constantly quarrels with his elder brother, Edmund falls prey to the White Witch’s enchantment. She promises to make him the successor to the throne as well as all the Turkish Delights he can consume. In exchange she wants him to lure his siblings to her abode.

An unnecessary addition

Tilda Swinton gives a marvelously chilling performance as the White Witch. Similarly Skandar Keynes who takes on the other character with a wicked streak gives an exceptionally strong act as Edmund. Georgie Henley shines as Lucy. Though their characters have little to do compared with their younger siblings, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell too should be commended for their performances. James McAvoy charms as the inimitable fawn Mr Tumnus. Liam Neeson who voices the virtuous lion Aslan does justice to the character.

Though the movie had tried to evade from the religious aura, there is still a slight Christian undercurrent latched to it. We also get a Christmassy atmosphere with a wintery wonderland unveiled before our eyes. The addition of Father Christmas onto the tale enhances this atmosphere yet seems like an unnecessary addition as an attempt to make ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ a Christmas family movie.

Another argument in connection with the morale of the movie is whether the White Witch portrays Satan and Aslan depicts Christ. Even the scene in which he meets death to free Edmund of his betrayal and for the good of Narnia to be reborn and conquer evil evokes the religious tale. If you let your thoughts run along those lines the images fit the characters yet there is no concrete evidence to say that the movie is one endorsing these aspects.

Change in the backdrop

The sight of cyclopes, minotaurs, centaurs, ogres, dwarfs, fauns, and all types of talking forest animals clearly demands a lot of animation skills and, fortunately, Adamson overcomes the hurdles involved in this sector. He mixes live action with computer-generated imagery with expertise so that the animations rest comfortable with the actors. The battle scenes are bloodless so it is suited for all ages though the force behind the scene in which Aslan is killed may raise slight trauma.

The movie will inevitably be compared to Peter Jackson’s Academy Award winning ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, the ‘Harry Potter’ series and ‘Percy Jackson.’ Though it lacks Jackson’s richness it is on par with ‘Harry Potter’ and is a much better make than ‘Percy Jackson.’

Comedy is found in the least expected moments and mostly through characters such as the homely beavers. One of the best scenes in the film is when the children enter the wardrobe which serves as a portal between England and Narnia. The rapid change in the backdrop from the gloomy atmosphere in the professor’s home to the snowy forest is alike a breath of fresh air and is a strange, disturbing yet delightful experience for the audience.

‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’s strengths lies in Adamson’s direction competence, its intriguing plot, solid cast and stunning special effects yet a Lewis fan would no doubt find ‘something missing’ in the manner in which the movie runs. Though the movie is makes an interesting watch one cannot help feeling that the team could have done a better job in bringing Lewis’ masterpiece to life.

Ruwini Jayawardana -