review by John W. Herbert
During World War II, four British children are sent out to the country to spend the war under care of a reclusive relative. The children discover a gateway through a wardrobe into another world called Narnia. There, in a world of centaurs, griffens, and talking animals, the children appear to be the fulfillment of a prophecy that four humans will one day lead an army with the help of Aslan, a lion, to defeat the self-appointed queen of Narnia, a witch.
Based of the classic book by C.S.Lewis, Narnia is not a bad movie, but as I was watching it I kept thinking to myself Lord of the Rings did this better. Indeed, The Lord of the Rings has set a very high standard when it comes to fantasy films, and perhaps comparing anything to the wondrous magic of LotR is unfair.
There’s nothing inherently bad in Narnia. The production is uniformly excellent, and the special effects are marvelous. The intergration of CGI characters into live-action elements is perfectly done.
But for me the film never grabbed me.
There’s also been some talk about the "Christian" aspects of Narnia. Aslan’s death and resurrection parallel Christ’s, and I believe that C.S. Lewis was deliberately evoking Christianity in his story. That said, I didn’t find that this aspect overwhelmed the story. Clearly, it’s there if you want to read that into it, but death and resurrection are so much a part of fantasy and science fiction films (Gandalf and Obi-Wan Kenobi for starters), never mind other myths and religions, that it does not overpower the movie.
Look, this isn’t a bad movie. Pay your money, you’ll like it. Will you care about it the next day? That’s another question.
originally published in Under the Ozone Hole #18