Reviewer's note: this review is a combination of the first DVD disc and the extended edition
C.S. Lewis has been read by millions of children over the decades. His most loved books are the seven book THE CHRONICLES
OF NARNIA. After some low budget BBC TV productions, the first book (THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE) has made it to
the big screen several years later. THE LORD OF THE RINGS has a very vast canvas where the Narnia books are sparse and can
be adapted into a shorter running time and still be faithful to the original works. Shrek and Shrek 2 director Andrew Adamson
effortlessly fits into the role for his very live action film as a director. Filmed in New Zealand with four kids that won't
annoy you, Tilda Swinton, and a cast of New Zeland actors (in addition to the voice of Liam Nesson) make the first film in
the Narnia series an enjoyable and magical adventure.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE opens up in World War II London under the nighttime bombing
by the Germans. Four children (Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter) are sent to the country to live with a professor. During a
game of hide and seek, Lucy finds the magical wardrobe that takes her to Narnia when she steps through it. The other three
don't believe her at first until they step through the wardrobe. One will betray them to Jadis the evil White Witch (Tilda
Swinton) and the other three children will be caught up in a war between the White Witch and the great lion Aslan. With great
performances, beautiful scenery, magical settings, and a sweeping score, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA is as entertaining as THE
LORD OF THE RINGS and Harry potter films.
As for the extended cut, I can't really tell much of what has been added (except for additional batle scenes) to make this
from 135 to 150 minutes. The extended cut flows as good as the theatrical version. But the big plus for this extened edition
are more extras and a companion guidebook (which was not included with my review copy of this set). You can play the film
with a brief 20 second introduction by director Andrew Adamson. No, the extended cut isn't as different as any of the extended
cuts of THE LORD OF THE RINGS films can be. So sit back and enoy Narnia for the first or next time as you wait for the next
book in the series to be released in theaters within the next year or two. Yes, it is fun to see a talking lion with the voice
of Liam Nesson.
VIDEO: 2.35:1 (Anamorphic Widescreen)
The transfer is almost as nice as the first cut, but I notice the picture looks grainy at times and a little soft in places..
Thankfully the majority of the extras are on the second disc.
AUDIO: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 5.1 DTS, French 2.0 Dolby Surround, Spanish 2.0 Dolby Surround
Dialogue is clear and DTS fans will be pleased that a DTS track is included for the film in addition to the 5.1 Dolby Digital.
SPECIAL FEATURES: The first disc has a fun 5 minute blooper reel and two insightful audio commentary tracks for the film.
Don't forget the Narnia Fact track which will pop up with facts during the film if you turn it on. The first audio commentary
is with director Andrew Adamson, producer Mark Johnson, and production designer Roger Ford. It goes with insights on the production
while the second audio commentary is from the point of view of the kids who starred in the movie. Director Admanson joins
Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Anna Popplewll, and William Moseley for that fun track (Georgie is funny as she recounts how
she liked eating pencils).
The second disc has a variety of featurettes, but the two long ones are the best of the bunch. Chronicles Of A Director
is an excellent making of piece on Narnia and how Andrew Adamson saw the film. The Children's Magical Journey features interviews
with the four kids who are the stars of the film as they recount their experiences making the film. Both of these documentaries
feature scores of behind-the-scenes footage. Out of the 11 Creating Creatures featurettes, the ones on creating The Beavers
and the look of the White Witch (see how they change costume during the film for Tilda Swinton) are my favorites. Cinematic
Storytellers has interviews with eight key crew members, special effects people, production designer, the composer, and more.
The best one of that lot is with the film's composer. Don't forget to find the hidden and brief featurette on Skandar Keynes
doing the Turkish Delight scene.
From One Man's Mind is a too brief featurette on how C.S. Lewis came to write the Chronicles Of Narnia books. I expected
more from this one and had it detailed like the Tolkien documentaries on THE LORD OF THE RINGS Extended Edition DVDs. I hope
the disc producers go more in depth on Lewis for the next NARNIA film DVD.
Legends In Time recounts the events in the movie and some of the events not seen in the film. Explore Narnia is an interactive
map that talks about key places featured in the film. Creatures Of Narnia provides key information on the 11 types of creatures
in the movie.
Disc three has C.S. LEWIS: DREAMER OF NARNIA- a 75 minute documenty on Lewis and the Narnia books with interviews that
include Lewis scholars, priests, the step-son of C.S. Lewis, a taxi driver that looks like Lewis, old friends of lewis and
his wife, and actor Ben Kingsley. The doumentary has some interesting content, but it is wildly uneven and glosses over many
Disc four features plenty of new behind-the-scens material that add to the content on disc two. VIZUALIZING THE LION, THE
WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE: THE COMPLETE PRODUCTION EXPERIENCE is an exhaustive 2 hour and 20 minute look at the whole process
of making the film. ANATOMY OF A SCENE: BEHIND THE BATTLE is an almost eight minute featurette on the process of making the
climatic battle. Art Of Narnia features three art galleries: Conceptual art, landscapes, and maquettes.
FINAL ANALYSIS: THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH , AND THE WARDROBE may not be as great as THE LORD OF THE
RINGS movies, but it is fantastic magical adventure for the whole family. Some of the extras including the new ones aren't
bad and those waiting for more extras an extended cut will want this four disc set. I do wish the C.S. Lewis documentary
was better (but it was a better effort than the breif featurette on Lewis on disc 2).
this review is (c)12-5-2006 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission (except for excerpts and a link
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