Toon Talk: The Chronicles of Narnia
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Following this treacherous voyage, Peter and the girls finally meet Aslan, a grand lion depicted via digital effects and voiced by Liam Neeson, who's rescue of Edmond sets off a chain of events that leads to a death and Christ-like resurrection, and finds young Peter leading an army of mythological beasts (griffins, centaurs, fauns, etc.) against the White Witch's wicked hordes (harpies, Cyclopes, Minotaurs, etc.), culminating in the final showdown of lion and witch.
As you can surmise, there is a lot chronicled in this Narnia, and director Andrew Adamson (Shrek), manages to keep it all in check and at a fast clip. The script (co-written by Adamson, Ann Peacock, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeeley) is very faithful, almost reverentially so, to the original source material, and all the design elements, from the art direction, costumes and make-up, are in sync to create this wonder-filled world. Most significant in the film's accomplishments are the visual effects (created in part by WETA Workshop, the magicians behind the magic of The Lord of the Rings), which will have you believing a goat-man can walk, among other feasts for the eyes.
Yet even with all the technical artistry on display, the film lacks a crucial element: passion. The finest of fantasy films all have this (best displayed in Peter Jackson's Rings trilogy), a fundamental aspect of the storytelling that engrosses the viewer in the events and transports you fully to these far-away lands. Despite its visual panache, Narnia is ultimately sterile, never quite involving you in the events unfolding before you.
What does this mean for Disney's future plans for Narnia as the next big fantasy franchise? Well, while you may find this initial trip into the land of the lion, the witch and the wardrobe enjoyable as I did, you may feel, as I do, that any future visits may not be necessary.
Toon Talk Rating: B