Loaded with striking visual effects, fantastic characters, and enough of a story to carry the energetic action scenes, Chronicles of Narnia is a classically styled Hollywood epic. This is a film crafted with care and carried through to the final frames.
Everything here, from the extravagant set design to the well written dialogue, achieves its goal. Performances are wonderful here, especially from child actress Georgie Henley. She can sell every scene she’s in and offers a wide range of emotions. It’s an impressive showing for her first screen role.
Non-human characters are startling in their reality. Rarely do the CGI special effects interfere with the storytelling, nor is the effects work a distraction. Every creature is realized to its fullest extent.
While the story follows a basic routine and offers few surprises, it develops the characters in anticipation for the sequels. It’s wise not to reveal too much, including the actual origin of the wardrobe which takes the four heroic children to the land of Narnia. For those not familiar with the story as a whole, the ending still provides an intriguing piece of closure as to not disappoint.
Massive, large scale battle scenes are now commonplace in Hollywood and those featured in Narnia don’t bring much new. The PG rating obviously restricts almost all of the violence, and those paying attention can spot people not even using the weapons properly as to not actually injure anyone. Still, the grand size of the finale is impressive and the fight engaging.
For family fantasy, Narnia fits into the same realm as Harry Potter and the comparisons are somewhat inevitable in terms of style. Neither fully eclipses the other, and each offers a unique take on both creatures and human characters. Either way, Narnia is immensely enjoyable, well acted, and energetic.
Audio design is equally impressive. Bass is deep and thick, capturing either the stampedes of animals or the bombs of the opening scene. Movement is flawless, with the action moving into the appropriate speaker in sync flawlessly with the video. This is a highly atmospheric design, and even in scenes where the action is non-existent, the sound still finds ways to impress. Subtle shifting of leaves or wind is consistently active throughout the film. The final battle scene likewise follows the rest of this track in its accuracy and clarity.
Features are split over two discs. The first contains two audio commentaries, the first with director Andrew Adamson and the cast. The second contains members of the film crew and is more technical in nature. A small set of bloopers runs for a little over four minutes. A pop-up trivia track runs alongside the movie, delving into details about the Narnia universe and could clear up some questions new fans have while they’re watching.
The second disc is immense in its depth. Creating Narnia is a six-part documentary clocking in at three and a half hours. It makes the commentaries irrelevant. At almost twice as long as the movie itself, this is one of the better behind the scenes docs you’ll watch, assuming you can make it to the end. It’s a long ride.
Creatures, Lands, and Legends includes a map of Narnia and a creature glossary. Battle for Narnia is an interactive game exclusive to Blu-ray, but unfortunately, would not play on the review unit. Regardless, even without the game, this is a fantastic, value-filled set.
Author C.S. Lewis, who penned the seven books in the series, hated the thought of his books being turned into movies. His stepson finally granted the studio the right to make the film after viewing a reel of CG footage.