Movie #91 2022: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Okay, so I suppose this movie isn’t technically a Christmas film. I mean, there’s a lot of snowy scenery and whimsical, fantasy feel going on, but it’s not exactly a Christmas film… Although when you look at other reviews for this opening to the C. S. Lewis trilogy, a lot of people seem to express how much they love watching it at Christmas, so I suppose that’s good enough.

Set in the early-1940s and in the throes of the Second World War, the film follows the Pevensie siblings as they become evacuees and re-settle in the countryside. What they find there is a mystical wardrobe, and when young Lucy hides in it one day, she discovers a whole different world filled with witches, dwarves and mythical beasts. It’s not all fun and adventure however, as the family are quickly forced to realise that they are the only ones who can saved Narnia from extinction.

My first thoughts? So that’s where the inspiration for Game of Thrones came from… No seriously, there are so many parallels?! I’m not even kidding. Whilst I won’t go into them here, re-watch this if you’ve seen it before and you’ll notice so many instances of clear inspiration for George R. R. Martin that it’s not even funny.

My next thought? Wow, this is long for a “kids” movie. But in all fairness, there’s a lot of plot to cover here and it all runs pretty smoothly. Although I read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe a long time ago and don’t particularly remember the ins and outs of it, it does seem like this film adaptation does its absolute best to stay super faithful to the original story, and for the most part? It’s actually quite entertaining despite its lengthy presence.

A lot of the time, I can’t stand child actors. And I know I’m not alone in that. Of course, there are exceptions, but they’re generally grating and often (through no fault of their own) unqualified. Whilst some of the acting from these kids is pretty dire, Georgie Henley as Lucy manages to remain charming, which is more than likely why she was cast here. If you look past the children, the supporting cast of adults is pretty good too, from James McAvoy to Tilda Swinton at her Tilda-iest. This mixture of youth and experience seems to be the key to the charm on this occasion, and it is no doubt why The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is the most well-loved movie in this trio of films.

Other than the casting there is one that – without doubt – is the biggest positive of this film and that is the special effects make up and the intricacy of the costuming. It’s not perfect visually since some of the CGI is pretty janky and seems unfinished (that’s 2005 for you, I guess), but the make up is especially brilliant. (I realised after watching that it actually won an Oscar in that category, so the proof is in the pudding, that’s for sure). And let’s face it, this is a big film to take on and a lot of make up to co-ordinate since the cast is so massive, so it’s truly deserved.

I’m absolutely not going to be watching the two sequels – probably ever – but this was a big, fun adventure that culminated in a pretty epic battle. So overall? Not a waste of 143 minutes at all: Narnia is exciting, full of whimsy, and well-crafted 90% of the time.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe is available to stream on Disney+ in the UK.

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