Did some studio executive somewhere get
their paycheck based on the number of letters in the title? Why
would someone name a film with a title this long? The Masked
Reviewer has written research papers in school that were shorter than
the subtitle alone!
Presumably, "Chronicles of Narnia" was added to
"The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" for branding purposes.
When the sequels come out (and mark the Masked Reviewer's words, they
will!), they didn't want audiences to get lost wondering if it was the
same franchise. "The Horse and His Boy?" "The Silver Chair?"
"A Wet Shoe with Cabbage?" Are they all in the same series?
The marketing people could have at least come up with a decent
acronym for the movie. CoN:tLtWatW isn't particularly catchy
Hey! Want to see how it's done? The Masked Reviewer's
whole review in fewer words than the title of the movie: "eh, it's okay
if you like that kind of thing."
Let's start with the Big Controversy (not really that big or
controversial). There have been reports that CoN:tLtWatW is
a propaganda film that promotes Christianity. The Masked Reviewer
read the book as a kid and didn't remember that. The Masked
Reviewer watched the film and didn't see it, either. There are
some elements lifted from the Christian belief structure, but...C.S.
Lewis lifted almost every element of the story from somewhere.
Minotaurs, Centaurs, griffins (not Kathy Griffins, fortunately), Fawns,
and even Santa Claus (!?) appear in the story. It's your typical
"kids get involved in an epic adventure" kind of tale, like you'd see in
Harry Potter. It's Lord of the Rings with kids.
But, there isn't much in the way of true originality. As a kid,
you might not know any better (for all you knew, C.S. Lewis could've
come up with the idea of a talking animal!) but now, the whole movie
feels like you're watching a weird Vegas tribute show to mythology.
"And now...from the briny deep, the Mermaid! The Mermaid, ladies
This won't be too much of a spoiler, but you should skip this
paragraph if you want to go in with absolutely no chance of anything
being ruined for you. Oh, wait...actually, you probably should
skip the preceding paragraph too...the Masked Reviewer did just tip that
Minotaurs, Mermaids, Grifins, and Santa Claus appeared. So, don't
read the previous paragraph. Anyway, the big event that has people
convinced this is a pro-Christian movie is that one character is
resurrected. A character dies (to help others) and comes back to
life. So, people assume it's a Christ figure. Now, the same
thing happened in Lord of the Rings...the wizard dies and comes
back. He was even Jesus-like in appearance...but no one made a
stink about that. Sure, there are other elements of Christian
symbology -- a lion, a sword, healing stuff...yadda yadda yadda.
The Masked Reviewer didn't see it. It's not that clever. In
fact, if this is pro-Christian, the Christian PR people should be fired.
Santa gives little children weapons. They fight. It's bloody
and violent. This isn't all about peace and love...it's
about...talking animals fighting each other. Sure, there are
references to the humans as "sons of Adam" and "daughters of Eve", but
the Masked Reviewer kind of thought it was a bit anti-religious.
The Christian stuff is put on the same level as Santa Claus and Roman
mythological characters. Granted, C.S. Lewis was a Christian
(converted by none other than Lord of the Ringscreator, J.R.
Tolkein), but there doesn't seem to be much deep though or symbolism in
By the way, if you haven't seen Lord of the Rings, you might
not want to read that previous paragraph either, as it contains a big
spoiler about that film too. Huh. Well, if you haven't seen
it by now, it's not the Masked Reviewer's fault.
On to the special effects. They're good! In fact, they're
quite good. The basic trouble is that computer graphics (CG) isn't
quite there yet. The Masked Reviewer believes that it's good and
gets better all the time, but people still recognize CG as CG.
People say "Oooh, that's a great CG cow," not "that's a cow!" The
film has a number of animals as stars, and while they look better than
anything you've seen (check out the lion's fur, for example), it still
looks like CG. Nonetheless, the visual effects are of equivalent
quality to what you'll find in Lord of the Rings. Massive
battles are visually interesting. They're not particularly
interesting otherwise, but visualy...you betcha. Is it worth
seeing just for the visuals? Not really. There's nothing new
in the movie.
Where else will you see a digitally created beaver?
The acting is fine. The young actors (the youngest girl and
younger boy, in particular) do a fine job in fairly beefy roles.
Often young actors can't carry a whole movie, and despite the nearly
continuous presence of special effects, the humans have a lot of screen
time to carry. The older brother and older sister aren't quite as
good, but they're not distractingly bad. Although, whenever the
oldest boy holds a sword, he looks just plain silly. He's supposed
to be a fearless leader and...he looks like he's about to fall over.
Get that man a plastic sword!
The plot, as previously mentioned, is a mish-mosh. It's
standard fantasy. In every way. Those unfamiliar with C.S.
Lewis who see CoN:tLtWatW might just think it's all a rip off.
It kind of is. The characters aren't particularly compelling.
This was true of Lord of the Rings, but at least here it's a
kid's story, so it's somewhat forgivable (what do kids need a plot for
There are some strange questions. People spend a fair amount of
time running and hiding from bad guys in the snow. These bad guys
can't seem to figure out that there are tracks in the snow.
Another oddity. The humans arrive in the strange titular world
of Narnia and get embroiled in local politics. They choose sides.
How do they know they're on the right side? Something to think
One character who dies evokes a tearful emotional moment, but that
character only knew the other characters for about thirty seconds of
screen time. How worked up are we supposed to get over someone we
just met kicking the bucket? It's the Dorf Principle. You have to
spend some time listening to Dorf and getting to know him before seeing
him get hit in the groin with a golf ball is funny. You remember
Dorf, right? Dorf on Golf? Tim Conway walking on his knees?
He should've played the dwarf in this movie.
Okay, that's enough about CoN:tLtWatW . It's not
un-entertaining...it's fine. It's not worthy of any big
controversy. It's a kid's story, lots of effects. It's
Lord of the Rings-Lite. Huge fans of C.S. Lewis will be sure
to like it, and despite some rather scary cat-scares (and a wolf-scare),
it didn't appear to be too much for any of the kids in the audience.
Expectation from the Title: It's hard to form an expectation
from the title when it's so long that you fall asleep half way through
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
That lion is so fluffy and cute...it's a big kitty!
The Pros: Good effects, child actors are fine.
The Cons: Everything has been done before. It doesn't
feel like there's a moment of creativity. Sure, we may have seen
some things before because movies lifted from C.S. Lewis'ss's books, but
it's hard to give him the credit when Santa Claus and others are making