Thursday, December 08, 2005

NARNIA: An enchanting family treat

(fantasy adventure)
Time: 140 mins
Rating: * * * ½

The Pevensie Siblings in Narnia
THIS rendition of Clive Staple Lewis’ book is not as overwhelming as Peter Jackson’s Lord Of The Ring series, but it comes pretty close. Like LOTR, this effort by director Andrew Adamson is a rich and gorgeous production with a superb cast. It may not be as spectacular as Tolkien’s works but fans of C.S. Lewis would not be disappointed with this new franchise.

The story is set during World War Two when the four Pevensie children are sent from Finchley, near London, to the safety of the countryside to live in the mansion of Professor Kirke (Jim Broadbent). Peter (William Moseley), the eldest, wishes he is old enough to join his father in the war against Nazism. Instead, he is tasked with taking care of his siblings, Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley).

One rainy day, while playing hide-and-seek to overcome boredom, Lucy slips into a wardrobe among the furs and finds herself in a snowy forest of firs. There she meets a gentle faun named Mr Tumnus (James McAvoy) who tells her she is in Narnia. This starts the siblings’ adventure!
Ironically, Peter’s wish to fight in a war is fulfilled when Edmund is captured by the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) who has turned the mythical world of Narnia into a ‘winter without Christmas’.

According to a squabbling beaver couple, it has been prophesied that four humans would arrive to herald the return of spring and freedom in Narnia, and to coincide with the return of Aslan the Lion (voice of Liam Neeson). The Witch seeks to stop this from happening. Now, Peter and his sisters must team up with Aslan’s forces, not only to rescue Edmund but also to save Narnia from the clutches of the evil Witch.

Yes, this is another battle of good versus evil but audiences need not have to worry much about its Christian allegory. To save Edmund’s life, Aslan makes the ultimate sacrifice which recalls Mel Gibson’s torture of Christ — and his ‘resurrection’ is complete with two ‘women’ by his side.
Why, there is also a tongue- in-cheek sequence of Father Christmas turning up as a sort of ‘arms dealer’ to the kids.

The battle field sequence pales when compared with the Battle of Helm’s Deep in LOTR but it serves its purpose. The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (1950) is the ‘second’ book of the Narnia Chronicles and the ‘sequels’, The Horse And His Boy (1954) and Prince Caspian (1951) promise more spectacular action.

The kiddie cast hold sway with little Henley standing out as Lucy, and Keynes looking pathetic as the troubled Edmund. However, the show-stealer is Swinton whose fair skin and schizophrenic nature makes a deliciously wicked witch. Considering that this is Adamson’s first live-action feature after the animated Shrek, he has done a good job of bringing Narnia to life.
It should make an enchanting holiday treat for the family.


At 6:08 pm, Blogger jesscet said...

Ah, now i know where to read ur column shall i miss the print version! hey, but where are the others like Perhaps Love or SPL? short takes also should post! looking fwd to reading King Kong's review!

p.s. didn't know your column is the longest in history! well done and keep it running..;)

At 7:42 pm, Blogger Lim Chang Moh said...

Thanks, Jesscet, for your suggestions. My problem is finding time to work on this blog especially at this time of the year when I have to work on The Malay Mail Readers' Top 10 Movies 2005 besides my day job.

KING KONG (which I saw last nite, Dec 13) is a brilliant remake, every inch a Peter Jackson effort infused with passion, humour and artistry. It is a bit long and draggy but never dull.

Am also looking forward to your write-ups on the Chinese movies.


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