The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005)

Rating: C+

Dir: Andrew Adamson
Star: William Moseley, Skandar Keynes, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton

The adaptation of the much-beloved C.S.Lewis book plays like Lord of the Rings Lite; maybe it’s seeing this the day we watched 300, but battle scenes without a drop of blood anywhere seem particularly odd. I’m sure there’s little need to describe the plot, since I believe the book is required reading in every school on Earth: wardrobe, Narnia, Aslan, White Witch, etc. Credit to the kids involved, who mostly avoid the usual pitfalls of child actors, coming over as natural rather than precociously irritating: sarcasm helps, with lines like, “It’s a beaver. It’s not supposed to say anything.” Stealing the film effortlessly is Swinton’s malevolent queen, with a sword that turns its victims to stone. She captures the sinister appeal of evil perfectly, and is compelling in every scene.

In contrast, good lion Aslan feels lifeless and uncharismatic in comparison, and once the children meet him, the film gets… well, boring. [Note: thus review is based on the extended version, adding a good chunk of footage that, it’d appear, was indeed better off cut] Add in the unconvincing nature of the battles – yeah, I’m sure teenage kids can hold their own in hand-to-hand combat, despite never having held swords before – and the second half of the film is more effective as an advert for the New Zealand Tourist Board, than as a movie for an adult viewer. At least the Christian metaphors remain tucked in the background, rather than being crammed down the audience’s throat; future entries in this series are marginally anticipated, as long as Swinton comes back.