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Category:    Home > Reviews > Fantasy > Literature > The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (DTS 2-DVD Set)

The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (DTS 2-DVD Set)


Picture: B-     Sound: B-     Extras: C+     Film: C



Just when it looks like the fantasy genre and crusades-era epic is dead and has lost another billion dollars, another film comes along to become a big hit and inspire the greenlighting of more inferior product.  The new live action (despite insane amounts of obvious digital work) version of The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe (2005) is the first of several promised films (especially now that this was a hit) based on the books by C.S. Lewis, the very writer who never wanted to see the books become live-action feature films.  After suffering through this imagination-destroying wreck, I can see why he feared his books would be messed up.


Once again, the world is a colorless or nearly colorless place to live, which begs the question of why anyone would want to exist in such a phony place.  With that said, the totally computer generated animals have the lack of appeal and greater lack of believability the bush animals brought to life in the unfortunate TV mini-series remake of Stephen King’s The Shining and unless you buy into a phonier world, forget it.  This makes a mockery out of the book, though I do believe the producer’s intentions were sincere, something enough audience members and readers of the book agreed with enough to turn this into a worldwide blockbuster.


As for the aspects that have to do with Christianity, there are those on the Religious Right who are thrilled this film came out and became a huge hit, but the film itself is not an extremist diatribe and the news was fascinating in how Disney was criticized for marketing it to Christian groups.  Why not?  That’s business.  The company was not being extremist and the film is not even being obnoxious in a benign way ideologically.  Like Forrest Gump, it is just so weak that Right Wing extremists easily hijack it and that weakness is the ultimate disservice to the book.  Maybe the sequel will be better, but this is just dull and to those who say you need to read the book first, that is just admitting the film is weak.


The anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 image was shot in Super 35 and digitized a good bit, limiting the color to the usual, tired non-red and often gray color schemes that are tired beyond belief.  Winter has a phony metallic look that reminds one of an old TV dinner, while even the best production design in the film seems low-balled by the over-digitization.  The DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes are too subdued and laid back for their own good, with Harry Gregson-Williams score barely able to escape the formula “feel good fantasy gentle music” cliché.  The combination is as restrictive as the way the script decided to fill in Lewis’ story.


Extras are more interesting, sometimes with better picture quality than the film.  They include two audio commentary tracks, “fun facts” on the film and bloopers on the first DVD, while the second disc has three pieces on the creatures alone and a six part section on the creation of the film overall.  A fancy glossy color paper pullout and two nice concept art cards on high quality paperboard are included inside the case, itself made of heavier paperboard.  It opens like a book cover (held by a Velcro dot) and the hard plastic DVD case slide out of a faux wardrobe.  Overall, except for fans, the entire production feels very faux, so watch it at your own risk.  Just don’t operate heavy machinery afterwards.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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