In an ideal world I’d never feel a conflict between the quality of a film and my enjoyment of it—this would truly make the reviews a lot easier to write. In light of this not being an ideal world I am forced to divulge my bias: I never enjoyed Lewis’s books, and while Narnia is a very good film, I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I probably should have. And with that said, I move on to the inevitable C.S. Lewis J.R.R. Tolkien comparison.
C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were not just contemporaries fond of initials in lieu of first names, but colleagues, friends, and occasionally rivals. Lewis’ overtly biblical novels will always lie in stark contrast to Tolkien’s more obfuscated works, but this makes sense with Tolkien drawing much inspiration from Norse sagas and Anglo-Saxon poetry, while Lewis’s work was spawned more from Milton, Greco-Roman deities and fairy tales; and most importantly his rebirth of faith conjured by Tolkien himself (and additional contemporary Hugo Dyson).
The two authors’ relationship is even more pertinent today than it was then, as the Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings Trilogy winds down and Andrew Adamson’s adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe starts to wind up. (No word yet on film trilogy based on teachings/critiques of Hugo Dyson.)
So why does this reviewer get less enjoyment from The Chronicles of Naria than The Lord of the Rings? With Lewis’s work it’s not the thinly veiled biblical overtones that trouble me at all, but stylistically it’s the nearly cacophonous mash-up the stories represent as a whole. That’s also part of why they are brilliant, and wonderful for children (or at least those who haven’t read much history or medieval lit). Mixing Santa Claus with greek gods? I’m sad to say it drives me crazy—but more importantly I can’t imagine any child that would oppose Santa appearing in any movie, whether contextually appropriate or not.
And finally, to the really short part, the review
Narnia, you know, for the kids. This picture succeeds on nearly all levels: the children perform very well, the special effects are entertaining, and most importantly the right decisions were made in the always difficult novel to film transition. The movie wins over much as the book does, so if you adored the series this is a must see. However, if you fall into my camp it’s just a pretty good show that can certainly wait until it costs less than $10.
That’s it. What, did you actually expect me to talk about the actual movie in such a long review? Pushaw.