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.
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