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BY Steven D. Greydanus
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – BluRay (2005) - Pick
The Chronicles of Narnia
(1998-2000 - Pick
In case you missed it, the hi-def DVD format wars are over.
The winner is Blu-ray, which beat out HD-DVD. The good news is this doesn’t
mean your DVD collection is obsolete: Blu-ray players will continue to play
regular DVDs. It does mean that if you’re in the market for a new DVD player,
you should probably consider a Blu-ray player — and when you buy DVDs in the
future, you should consider whether you want to settle for standard or hold out
for Blu-ray. (By the way, how old is your television?)
Although the 2005 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has
long been available on DVD — in regular and extended editions — this week,
coinciding with the big-screen release of Prince Caspian, marks the film’s
debut on Blu-ray.
Georgie Henley’s delightful Lucy, James McAvoy’s charming
Mr. Tumnus and Tilda Swinton’s chilly White Witch are among the best reasons to
see this big-budget blockbuster, which boasts top-notch special effects and
sweeping New Zealand landscapes.
Aslan, rendered in amazing computer animation, is a
technical triumph, though as voiced by Liam Neeson he’s neither as growly nor
as transcendent as he ought to be. As with Prince Caspian, scripting choices
somewhat undermine Aslan’s omnipotence, as when Aslan explains that the Deep
Magic “governs all our destinies, yours and mine” — a line Lewis never would
Another flaw is the film’s revisionistic sympathy for Edmund
over Peter. This partly reflects director Andrew Adamson’s middle-child issues,
but also illustrates Hollywood’s ongoing ambivalence about heroic authority
Such missteps add up to the difference between a good family
film and the great film it could have been. Still, even in this diminished form
Lewis’ story is still worth seeing, and the film adds enough to keep things
Also worth checking out are the three episodes of the BBC
The Chronicles of Narnia, covering the first four books, from The Lion, The
Witch and the Wardrobe to The Silver Chair.
Although production values, especially in the earlier
episodes, are generally lame to modest, with the silly-looking Beaver costumes
and a well-made but unimposing two-man Aslan puppet, allow it the suspension of
disbelief you would give a local community theater stage production. You’ll
find a faithful and enjoyable interpretation of Lewis’ beloved stories. (They
get better as they go, too.)
Beautiful, rugged U.K. landscapes, splendid old castles and
other shooting locations, and some fairly impressive sets help create some
sense of authenticity. Among the child actors, Sophie Wilcox particularly
shines as Lucy, while in The Silver Chair Tom Baker (an erstwhile Dr. Who)
gives the series’ best performance as the dour but stalwart Marshwiggle
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Recurring fantasy
action and violence and some menace to children, including a basically
bloodless but intense battle sequence. Might be too much for sensitive kids.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Fantasy menace and scary images; stylized violence.
Okay family viewing.