Narnia thaws out frozen New Yorkers10/10
The audience at this afternoon's preview screening of The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe, at New York's AMC 25 theater in Times Square, broke out in spontaneous applause at least three or four times. It seems that director Andrew Adamson has brought a thaw to normally-jaded New Yorkers as well as to the 100-year winter of Narnia. The movie pulls the viewer into the story right from the opening scenes of war-ravaged England, where siblings Lucy, Susan, Peter and Edmund (wonderful performances by all) are sent from their homes to the relative safety of 'the professor's' country estate where, during a game of hide-and-go-seek, young Lucy hides in the wardrobe only to discover the passage to the land of Narnia. From this point, the multi-layered story of betrayal, courage, sacrifice, redemption and hope unfolds into a briskly paced 2 hour and ten minute adventure that leaves the viewer emotionally charged and thoroughly entertained.
The musical score is appropriately stirring and moody. The computer generated creatures are sophisticated to the point where the technology disappears and you begin to accept the performance, and not the special effect! This brings us to Aslan - if the talking lion didn't work, the movie would fold in on itself and go away. Aslan works,however, and works very well. Voiced by Liam Neeson, Alsan is both believable as a 'literal' lion and as Aslan, talking lion, King of Narnia. Aslan's face is expressive and noble, and Neeson's voice acting has strength and dignity.
This film succeeds on so many levels, it would be possible to discuss it in many different veins: the direction, the story's surface-level themes, the theological possibilities, the drama, the fantasy, the adventure.... Yes - it's an action film, a dramatic film, a fantasy, a somewhat-dark (yet hopeful) fairy-tale. It has humorous moments and frightening moments, like most truly great 'family' films always seem to have.
The bottom line is, this is a film that will leave you the better for having seen it. There's much to reflect on and much to simply enjoy - there's certainly enough to keep you thinking for a while, and that's always a good thing. Aslan, indeed, is on the move!