The Defense of New Haven (Movie Review)

The Defense of New Haven (2016) | Trailer | Amelia Steege

Plot Summary

The Raiders constantly attack the city of New Haven, trying to take more victims. Alec is just a regular citizen trying to make his way in the world, but he get accidentally caught in the conflict and wants to join the New Haven Defense army. However, they are skeptical of his abilities due to his handicap but give him a shot. Together, will the team be able to stave off the coming Raider onslaught?

Production Quality (2 points)

This production is fairly good overall despite a few concerns. One of these is a soundtrack that sometimes overpowers other sounds, but most of the audio is acceptable. Video quality and camera work are professional. Sets, locations, and props, though they are limited in scope, are well-utilized. Some of the editing is a bit choppy at times, but all production elements improve with time. Thus, an above-average score is warranted here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

Much like The Runner From Ravenshead, The Defense of New Haven crafts an intriguing world for its story and creatively applies a parable/allegory to the narrative. A major drawback, however, is the characters could have been better developed. As they are, the characters have some believable motivations and slightly developed personalities but lack true arcs and feel one-dimensional due to some unsubstantial dialogue. Surprisingly, the plot is fairly complex due to the well-developed premise and advanced spiritual lessons. Nonetheless, this complexity is also a negative as there’s too much content, which leads to a very rushed conclusion after some time is wasted in the film’s first half. The writers try to use off-screen content to make up for lost time, but it’s not enough to keep the ending from being abrupt and crammed. Moreover, the storyline scores enough wins to be rated average.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Just as The Runner from Ravenshead had a cast composed entirely of kids, The Defense of New Haven follows the same model. This makes the performances hard to quantify, but most of the time, they seem to be on point with line delivery and emotions. Some of the cast member reuse can be redundant, and this overuse can cause smaller roles to suffer in quality. Nonetheless, this section is at least average.

Conclusion

This creative team is definitely doing the best that they can do with what they have. Now that they’ve made two movies using a similar formula, it’s likely time to step out and try something more ambitious. At the very least, they could provide valuable screenwriting skills to a field that’s starving for substantial narratives. It will be interesting to see what they can come up with next.

Final Rating: 5 out of 10 points

The Runner from Ravenshead (Movie Review)

The Runner From Ravenshead (2010) | Full Movie | Addison Steege | Amelia  Steege | Brendan Steege - YouTube

Plot Summary

Sam has been sentenced to serve time in the impenetrable Ravenshead Prison. However, she desperately wants to be free. Thankfully, the City of Refuge Watch regularly springs prisoners from the bulwark, but in Sam’s case, a rookie is forced to do the job. Can they escape to the City of Refuge before the wardens catch them?

Production Quality (2 points)

Despite being a low budget production, this section is actually pretty good. This is evident in the video quality and camera work. Audio quality is fine although the soundtrack is a bit loud at times, and there are some dumb sound effects used throughout. Special effects are also poor, but sets, locations, and props are fine. Editing is professional, so this rounds out an above-average score.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

The parable premise of this film is quite creative, and it’s encouraging that an intriguing world was built in this narrative without being too heavy-handed with Christian messaging. Nonetheless, the lesson is clearly there with its implied allegorical parallels. However, it feels like the plot could go further than it does even though it was good to try a unique storyline with the limited scope that was available. It’s unfortunate that the characters are only average due to underwhelming dialogue. There’s also some forced comedy and silly coincidences, and a few sequences go too long and only extend the runtime for no reason. More substantial conversations would have fixed both of these problems by building character personality and improving the use of time. Doing this would have also provided better opportunities to explain the narrative’s world. Moreover, there’s enough good here to warrant a small rating.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

While it’s hard to quantify all-child cast, it was efficient to reuse of cast members even though it can become repetitive. Nonetheless, in The Runner from Ravenshead, it was clear that the creators were doing the best they could with what they had, which is all we ever ask from entertainment makers. In this movie, emotions and line delivery are mostly average, which leads to this final score.

Conclusion

Screenplays like this one are certainly unique, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. They showcase what the creative team could do with more funding and maximize what’s right in front of them. While films like The Runner from Ravenshead have a low ceiling of potential, finding this maximum is the best way to show what can be done in future projects.

Final Rating: 4.5 out of 10 points

Heavenquest: A Pilgrim’s Progress (Movie Review)

4 Things to Know about Heavenquest: A Pilgrim's Progress

Plot Summary

Vangel was a judge in the Kingdom of the South, but when he was wrongly accused of treason against the king he worked for, Vangel is sent for punishment. However, he escapes this fate and meets up with another fugitive; together, they run into a mysterious man named Elder who tells them that they can be set free if they make it to the Kingdom of the North. Through many perilous circumstances, they battle their way to freedom at all costs. Will they be able to cross the border before it’s too late?

Production Quality (1.5 points)

Unfortunately, fantasy productions in Christian entertainment almost never fare well, and cheesy special effects combined with obvious CGI elements are usually the leading culprits. Heavenquest isn’t an exception to this tendency as its sets, locations, and props don’t adequately portray what they’re supposed to portray. Camera work is often shaky, especially in action scenes, and the film is replete with very trippy and dizzying sequences that confuse and overwhelm the viewer. Video quality is clear, but lighting is inconsistent. Despite an interesting soundtrack, it’s sometimes too loud. There are many quick cuts and transitions throughout, but there is actually some production improvement throughout, which is enough to grant an average score for this section.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

After completely dropping the audience in the middle of narrative nowhere, Heavenquest consistently introduces concepts that fly over the head of the viewer. These elements seem designed with purposeful vagueness even though they include intriguing psychological aspects and artistic perspectives. It seems like the writers were trying to tell something profound but never got around to explaining it. Nonetheless, it’s hard to follow the plot’s progression as random things happen. Some sequences are total wastes of time and accomplish nothing, only wasting valuable opportunities to develop accessible characters and help audiences understand what’s actually going on. As they are, the characters are difficult to connect with due to detached and cryptic dialogue although they have some potential. The villains are very cheesy and mainly serve to include unnecessary language and edgy content. Often, things in the story happen because they need to rather than naturally developing. Besides the disorienting nature of the movie, its allegory seems a bit off at times and not completely congruent with the faith. It seems to adopt unusual theological stances, and its flat ending leaves everyone empty-handed. Thus, no points can be awarded here.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Some acting in Heavenquest is acceptable, but for the most part, the villain cast members post over-the-top performances. A portion of the acting seems unsure or awkward while other parts demonstrate overly practiced emotional and line delivery. Further, makeup isn’t all that it could be, which rounds out an overall average section.

Conclusion

This film joins other similar ones (such as The Adventures of Chris Fable and Heaven’s War) in presenting poorly constructed CGI fantasies. Relying too much on visual effects and allowing the storyline to fall by the wayside, Heavenquest‘s creators either never figured out why they wanted to make this movie or never properly communicated this. After all the hype surrounding the movie, Christian audiences were left with another disappointment that will contribute to the growing discontent with the field. Hopefully, however, future offerings won’t commit the same errors.

Final Rating: 3 out of 10 points

A Message Through Time (Movie Review)

A Message Through Time (2019)
The magic tree!

Plot Summary

After a girl is bullied at her new school and shunned by everyone for no particular reason, things get worse when her mom is late picking her up. Thus, the only thing the girl can do is walk into a random forest, write her troubles on a piece of notebook paper, tear out the page, wad it up, and throw it into a hollow tree. However, she’s shocked when a paper suddenly pops back out of the tree, which lets her know that a monk from centuries before her time received her crumpled note and sent one back to her! Will they be able to help each other even though they’re worlds apart???

Production Quality (.5 point)

In this extremely cheap production, audio quality is very poor, as shown by background echoes, invasive environmental sounds, annoying post-production sound effects, and a loud soundtrack that tries to cover up the problems. Even though video quality and camera work are okay, bad lighting is a consistent problem. Also, the sets, locations, and props don’t adequately represent what they’re supposed to depict. Further, the editing leaves much to be desired. Overall, this section barely registers any life, but it’s not the worst this movie has to offer.

Plot and Storyline Quality (-.5 points)

Besides the fact that the time travel tree portal premise is completely absurd, the characters couldn’t have less personality than they do. Due to blank and vanilla dialogue, they seem like they stepped out of poorly written children’s story. ‘Bad’ characters are total strawmen, and useless conversations contribute to the narrative’s futility. Lots of time is wasted on meaningless musings about who should have been the head of the medieval church, and the world presented in the plot lacks logical sense. Time travel in and off itself is totally nonsensical, but this story takes matters a step further by trying to connect two time periods that have absolutely nothing to do with one another. It’s utterly laughable that this idea was even made into a film, and it’s so ridiculous that this area earned an negative rating.

Acting Quality (0 points)

As if the plot isn’t bad enough, the acting is painfully awkward. Line delivery is quite unsure, and emotions are overly practiced. It’s clear that coaching is lacking for the cast, which isn’t entirely their fault. As a side note, historical accents are obviously incorrectly portrayed, but it really only contributes to an overall zero-point effort.

Conclusion

Movies like A Message Through Time are so detrimental for Christian entertainment efforts. They reinforce stereotypes of inexperienced creators making something laughably bad. Films like this one continue to turn potential audiences off to the concept of faith-based screenplays. However, all that can be done is for the creative teams who have actually been called by God to make movies and series to follow through and transform the market.

Final Rating: 0 out of 10 points

Scion [2018] (Movie Review)

Kingdom Sight

Plot Summary

Kendra Williams is tired of the way things are. She never gets to have any fun because her parents won’t let her go to dangerous all-night parties with her “friends.” One of these said nights, Kendra meets a mysterious man who promises to grant her secret wish of living however she wants. Kendra accepts his offer but suddenly wakes up in a world where she was never born. Will she be able to escape the nightmare before it’s too late???

Production Quality (1 point)

For the most part, Scion offers a very cheap production experience, including shaky camera work, tight shots, and bizarre camera angles designed to be “cool.” Audio quality is also uneven as backgrounds sounds are too prevalent and invasive sound effects annoy the viewer even though the soundtrack is somewhat interesting. The video is also sometimes blurry, and lighting is inconsistent throughout. Sets, locations, and props are mostly average if not slightly limited, and cheesy special effects plague the audience with dizzying sequences. Further, though there is some slight improvement throughout, continuity errors and various editing concerns keep this section on the low end of the spectrum, but it’s not even the worst of it.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

Scion starts off with the completely wrong premise by portraying a tone-deaf view of young people being wayward and throwing in with strawman villains. Also, the psychological fantasy world created for this plot is very difficult for viewers to understanding since its rules seem very subjective. For instance, things in the alternate universe randomly happen for no particular reason, and obstacles are arbitrarily applied to the characters just for the sake of expanding the narrative and illogically getting them where the writers wanted them to go. Similarly, the story’s progression makes little sense as unnecessary time jumps disorient the audience and endless meandering sequences waste time just so that the characters can run all over the place and fill the runtime. Very convenient dialogue also forces the plot to go where screenwriters wanted it to go, and forced suspense scenes crowd out any shred of potential there was for character development. In the end, this screenplay is just a bad version of the typical It’s a Wonderful Life style of psychological narrative.

Acting Quality (1.5 points)

Though it’s a bit average and sometimes even awkward, the acting is the best aspect of Scion. However, emotions still aren’t very believable throughout, and line delivery is pedestrian. Nonetheless, it’s unclear how the cast members could have done much better with how poorly written this movie was. Thus, this rounds out a severely underwhelming effort that should have never gotten past the initial planning stages.

Conclusion

Kingdom Sight Studios has demonstrated some slight potential in the past, such as in 2nd Greatest, but more recent projects, like Scion and A High School Story, have not instilled any confidence in their commitment to quality. Often, being a lone ranger studio rarely pays off, but the least they could do is overcome their low production quality with deeper storylines that would make bigger companies take notice. However, this isn’t the case as they further contribute to the already low image of Christian entertainment.

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

The Christmas Dragon (Movie Review)

It’s magic!

Plot Summary

After her parents are kidnapped, Ayden and her new orphan friends will have to retrieve the magical orb that keeps Father Christmas alive and will have to save the Christmas Dragon from being killed.  Will they be able to prevail against the evil creatures and people that are chasing then?  Will everyone be able to find out what the true meaning of Christmas is?

 

Production Quality (1.5 points)

It’s very hard to make a fantasy movie on a low budget, so it should probably be avoided.  Nonetheless, while The Christmas Dragon has some good production elements, it also has some glaringly bad ones.  As usual, video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all what they should be.  Yet there are many obviously cheap special effects used throughout, including a lot of poorly animated overlays.  Unfortunately, the fantasy props used are among the worst; it also does not help that the sets and locations are fairly limited.  One consolation is that the editing in this film is fine, which keeps this production from being below average.  In the end, fantasy productions require a lot of funding, so a low budget will always be exposed by this type of film.

Plot and Storyline Quality (0 points)

First off, it’s very hard to discern how The Christmas Dragon is really a Christmas film, but at least John Lyde and his team are trying to do something different.  However, it still seems like he and his team are better than this silliness.  With no clear Christian message or purpose to guide it, this storyline meanders along as a vague allegory that simply copies concepts (very poorly) from popular fantasy stories.  The characters are too one-dimensional and not dynamic at all.  They seem to be pawns in the plot, and their dialogue is stunted by action sequences.  Allegory and fantasy plots need a driving purpose that keep them from going off the rails, and some creativity is not discouraged either.  Unfortunately, this movie lacks these parameters.

Acting Quality (1 point)

Besides having the most terrible makeup jobs ever, these cast members are forced to don obviously homemade costuming (and sometimes stupid masks) that attempts and fails to make them look like mythical creatures.  Elsewhere, emotions are either too dramatic or too matter-of-fact.  There is too much yelling and forced drama, as well as poor action acting.  While some roles are poorly cast, there are some good moments here that keep this section from being any worse.  In the end, the potential here was not fully reached.

Conclusion

A word to the wise: do not make a fantasy movie with this sort of budget and don’t make one just to rip off other ideas and to smash Christmas into it for no good reason.  John Lyde and his team usually produce quality content, but this movie is an exception because they overextended themselves with a complex production.  Fantasy plots need to be well-planned from the beginning, and if they are, they can be very dynamic.  Perhaps John Lyde and his crew will continue to improve in the future.

 

Final Rating: 2.5 out of 10 points

 

Masterless (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

As Kane Madison works as a successful architect and lives his seemingly perfect life with his wife, in the spiritual dimension, a battle rages for his soul.  Little does he know that while Satan and his demons want Kane to continue fighting on his own, another Master, Whom Kane does not know, wants Kane to surrender to His power so that Kane can win the battles at hand.  When tragedy suddenly strikes, where will Kane turn?

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

This unique and creative film concept is difficult to pull off production-wise, but it is executed relatively well.  Video quality, camera work, and audio quality are all up to industry standard.  The soundtrack is also excellently constructed.  Sets, locations, and props are diverse, realistic, and appropriate.  Outside of some minor editing concerns, the biggest production error to point out here is the odd use of sepia tones in the fantasy scape, but it’s not enough to keep this production from being nearly excellent.  This is a model production that should be replicated.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1.5 points)

A lot of spiritual\psychological plots are hard to pull off, but Masterless is based on a very creative idea that is relatively well-presented.  Though it is sometimes too simplistic, the spiritual warfare component makes this story what it is.  However, it could be improved through better explanation, because as it is, the fantasy scape is slightly isolating and vague.  Granted, this is a difficult feat to accomplish.  The characters in this story are mostly believable, but they could use some further deepening through more meaningful dialogue.  This would in turn make the plot more dynamic.  Moreover, the ending is certainly not predictable and is very thought-provoking.  The entire concept behind this film is very creative and deserves further exploration, perhaps in an improved follow-up.  In short, this is one of the better and more original plot ideas crafted in recent memory, so it’s a shame that it didn’t go all the way.

Acting Quality (2 points)

Though this is a semi-professional cast, they are in no ways below average.  They are actually quite good, even though they are a small cast.  At times they can be underwhelming and exhibit unnatural emotions, but with better coaching, the deeper potential could be brought out.  Even so, this is a respectable effort.

Conclusion

Masterless joins the growing list of Christian films that really deserves and needs a remake.  The idea behind this plot is enough to drive a trilogy concept, if executed properly.  There are so many directions that this story concept could take; it seems like the surface has only been scratched.  With slightly improved production and acting, along with better plot explanation and character deepening, this idea could be Hall of Fame worthy.  Thus, it will be interesting see what this creative team has planned next.

 

Final Rating: 6 out of 10 points

 

The Taker’s Crown (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

When the legendary King Wiglaf becomes stuck in a time period not his own, he is tasked with finding the Titan thief Tome and procuring the Taker’s Crown before Tome can get to it.  It’s said that whoever holds the Taker’s Crown has immense power, but in order to get to it, Wiglaf must find his old friend the Maverick.  Along the way, he is accosted by the two troubled children of Tome, one of whom he tries to befriend.  Will Wiglaf be able to find the Crown before it’s too late?

 

Production Quality (1 point)

As a first-time production, The Taker’s Crown is an ambitious project that appears to have bitten off more than it can chew.  Video quality is fine, and the soundtrack is okay, yet the positives are limited to those two elements.  Camera work is much too shaky and there are a lot of weird camera angles.  Audio quality is inconsistent, with some overdubs and overdriven audio.  Sets and locations are fairly limited for the idea that is trying to be conveyed here, and props are downright laughable.  Finally, editing is quite bad as the film is very hard to understand and extremely difficult to follow.  Unfortunately, though a commendable effort was here, a successful follow-through was not.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

The Taker’s Crown is intended to be the first in a series, and it’s trying to portray a large-scale fantasy idea.  This basic idea is the only thing that keeps this story from being zero, because while it’s a good idea, the intended epic nature of it does not come across in any way.  It was touched on in the production critique, yet setting this fantasy\sci-fi idea in some random woods, a street corner, somebody’s house, a random field, and a playground does not convey what the writers want to convey.  Besides this, the characters are extremely thin and one-dimensional.  Who are these people and how do they fit into this vague fantasy universe?  What is this universe and how does it work?  Is it an alternate world, a parallel universe, or a time travel concept?  These unanswered questions don’t even touch the fact that the dialogue is ridiculous and the plot progression is forced and predictable.  This film was basically written for the prologue and the epilogue and kills time in between them.  Maybe there’s a great idea in store for this series, but it’s certainly not evident in this installment.

Acting Quality (0 points)

Casting a collection of Crystal Creek Media retreads is not exactly the way to create a winning acting formula.  Tim Kaiser, Jared Withrow, and Tiffany Burns need some serious pointers when it comes to emotions and line delivery.  Elsewhere, this cast is very lacking in direction, though it’s not like they had any lines to work with.  Overall, this movie is a mess and needs a total rework.

Conclusion

We will air on the side of believing that Whiteshore Films has better things in store for this series, even though this is not entirely evident right now.  Wherever this series is going, hopefully it can only get better.  As it is, this film is predominantly a wreck and doesn’t have much going for it.  If this idea is going to succeed in the future, the premise needs to be explained way better, the production needs to be improved, and the cast needs to be revamped.  Perhaps then it will be a worthwhile series.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

 

The Return [2015] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Leah of Nod is a thief and has never known anything else.  she spends her days stealing from unsuspecting villagers.  She is being controlled by the evil Dybbuk and doesn’t think she can get out.  But one day, a huntsman named Yadid comes to town and Leah meets him.  He is unlike any man she has ever met and he treats her different than Dybbuk treats her.  But when Leah is accused of wrongdoing and sentenced to death, who will stand up for her?

 

Production Quality (.5 point)

With an obvious low budget, the production of The Return is quite cheap, although it seems like it’s the best the team could have done with what they had.  Camera work and video quality are almost passable, but the audio quality is quite bad.  The soundtrack is too loud at times and is too generic.  Though this allegory relies on the quality of its sets, props, and locations, these elements are very cheap and drag the movie down.  Finally, the editing is very unprofessional, with awkward cuts and transitions that make for a choppy presentation.  In the end, since this genre required a more substantial budget, it might have been a better idea to not try to force it to happen with limited resources.

Plot and Storyline Quality (.5 point)

Allegories are always interesting, and it’s refreshing to have a movie from a different genre, but The Return is somewhat simplistic and even childish at times.  The scope and premise are very limited and there are far too few characters.  The small number of characters only highlights the fact that the dialogue is extremely empty and cheesy.  There are too many allegorical concepts that are isolating and need better explanation.  These ideas also need further expansion and development in order to be more substantial.  They are not effective because they are too shallow, thus rendering the allegory almost pointless.  The ending is also confusing and isolating.  In the end, The Return is a nice idea but is greatly short-sighted and underdeveloped.

Acting Quality (.5 point)

While is some potential in this cast, they seem quite amateurish and need further coaching.  It seems like they mean well, but they are misguided.  There are too many awkward moments and emotions.  Line delivery random.  Overall, this cast definitely would have benefitted from substantial coaching.

Conclusion

The Return is a half-idea that needed a lot more deepening before it was allowed to go into production.  With a very limited budget and an incomplete concept, more time needed to be given to this project before it was forced into creation.  Allegorical films can be very powerful tools if used properly, but without careful planning, like in the case of The Return, it can become a big disappointment.  There is absolutely a place for this type of film in the Christian entertainment industry, but it must be done properly.  Perhaps in the future, this will happen.

 

Final Rating: 1.5 out of 10 points

 

Prince Caspian [2008] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Rejected by his uncle due to the birth of a new son, Prince Caspian is forced to flee for his life from his Telmarine countrymen, who are ruling Narnia and who have forced the true Narnians into hiding.  But Caspian finds himself taking refuge with these renegade creatures now that he has a common enemy with them.  In trouble, Caspian blows the legendary Susan’s horn and inadvertently calls the Pevensie siblings back to Narnia, although it has been hundreds of years since they left.  They immediately find themselves thrust into a conflict between the restless Narnians and the disillusioned Telmarines.  Although they believe they have the power they need to win, the High Kings and Queens of Narnia must remember the former days and call on Aslan for help in order to survive.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

In keeping with the production quality of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian is well-produced and well-funded.  The camera work is great.  The sets are well-constructed and the costuming remains professional, which is key in fantasy movies.  Action scenes are filmed with skill.  The only small caveats to raise here are that there is some slightly obvious CGI and the editing is confusing at times.  Otherwise, there is nothing negative here.

Plot and Storyline Quality (1 point)

Unfortunately, the original plot of Caspian is not adapted as well as the first installment.  Though Douglas Gresham was still involved, Box Office Revolution feels that the core message of Narnia was lost in this movie.  Disney takes over Caspian and inserts empty action sequences, drab dialogue, and bland characters.  Granted, the original plot of the book was not much to work with, but Disney adds a darker tone to this film that was not intended.  All the characters seem perpetually angry about abstract things.  Some scenes leave the viewer hanging with no real explanation.  The end is pretty good, but it has a strange romantic subplot is suddenly forced upon the audience.  Needless to say, both avid Narnian fans and professional plot critics cannot find much to be pleased about here.

Acting Quality (2 points)

The professional acting style is mostly maintained from the first movie, but in the sophomore installment, it seems like the cast isn’t really trying.  At times, actors seem bored and passive.  But it is not all bad and there is certainly worse acting to be seen.  In short, the acting keeps up with the rest of the film—good, but not good enough.

Conclusion

Prince Caspian is a natural sequel to the infamous The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but its plot could have been improved.  Where there was potential for improvement, nothing materialized.  It probably should not be surprising that Douglas Gresham pulled the franchise from Disney after this movie—it needed to be done.  The bottom line is that the Chronicles of Narnia remain to be great books to adapt into films, if done properly.  Larger production companies have a tendency to coast after success, and this is not something Box Office Revolution respects.

 

Final Rating: 5.5 out of 10 points

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe [2005] (Movie Review)

Plot Summary

Torn from their parents and hometown due to the rage of World War II, the Pevensie siblings must make their new home in the mansion of an eccentric elderly man and stay out of the way of his picky housekeeper.  Little did Lucy Pevensie know that choosing to hide in a wardrobe during a game of hide and seek would give her entrance to a mystical world called Narnia.  After meeting a new friend, Mr. Tumnus, Lucy soon discovers that all is not well in this land where winter is year-round.  After being mistreated by her brother Edmund, who also found his way into Narnia, the four siblings are forced to enter through the wardrobe, and are surprised to find that the creatures of Narnia have been awaiting their arrival, along with the coming of a legendary lion named Aslan.  Together, the siblings must band together and dig deep in order to fulfill an ancient prophecy and to save an entire land.

 

Production Quality (2.5 points)

As is to be expected from the production crews involved, the production is professional and obviously well-funded.  The classic children’s series from C. S. Lewis was long awaiting a high quality rendition, and it was providence that his stepson Douglas Gresham was allowed to be an executive producer, so to preserve the original intent of Lewis’ work.  The camera work is great, as are the video and sound quality.  Fantasy productions are expensive and hard to do well due to difficult sets and costuming, but this one pulls it off well.  The only issue to raise in this film is some obvious green screens and CGI in some parts, but it is not glaringly obvious.  In short, this is finally a quality film based on the timeless work of Lewis.

Plot and Storyline Quality (2.5 points)

The book’s plot is adapted very well, even enhancing the original plot without losing the allegorical message, which is surprising with Disney involved.  Douglas Gresham can be credited for this preservation.  The character development is decent and the dialogue is both realistic and character-building.  The twists involved are true to the book; no extreme creative license is taken here.  The one issue to raise here is that some parts of the plot tend to be overly dramatic, no doubt a Disney contribution.  But the bottom line is that this is a solid plot that does not compromise the novel’s purpose.

Acting Quality (2.5 points)

The funding paid off—the acting is overall professional and well coached.  Though it is largely a mainstream cast, they demonstrate great acting skills, taking on the book’s characters well.  One caveat to bring up is that a few lines fall flat in an attempt to be sensational.  But this is not really a big issue and is easily forgotten.

Conclusion

A lot of things could have gone wrong with this film: Disney could have run away and destroyed the plot, the acting could have been deemphasized in favor of action sequences, or it could have been another cheap puppet production like so many Narnia movies before it.  None of these scenarios occurred, and thus, this movie lands in the Box Office Revolution Hall of Fame.  It is not a perfect film, but it was a great start to the unique Narnia movie saga and must be recognized for its strengths.

 

Final Rating: 7.5 out of 10 points