The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – A Movie Review

I loved this story as a child-adored it, in fact.  My fourth grade teacher read us the complete Chronicles of Narnia series over the school year, and I contribute this, along with comic books and my parents reading to me consistently as a wee lad, to my love of reading and writing as an adult. 

Let’s acknowledge that I had very high hopes for this film.  The previews were enough to make me tear up a bit because of the pure happiness they evoked.  The happiness of seeing something that had only existed in my imagination suddenly thrown onto the silver screen elated the little boy that still very much lives within me.  It was magical.

I have to say that while this film made my heart swell throughout for a variety of reasons, I was not completely enamored with it.  There are several reasons for this, some that have nothing to do with the film, some that do.

First of all, any time something is given tangible form externally from your own imagination, it never lives up to expectations in its entirety.  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was an excellent film, but it still did not match what I had dreamt as a child, and very little ever does.

Secondly, the actress that played Lucy (the youngest) was by far the better of the four children.  I’ve never particularly enjoyed films that starred children (with the exception of The Goonies), and this was no different.  I had very explicit images of Peter and the rest, and none of them matched up.  That, plus the fact that, as stated, three of the four children were simply not very good actors, seemed to drag the film down just a bit.

Thirdly, the voice of Aslan was not the voice I had heard within my mind when I was sitting in grade school.  Nothing against the actor that played him, I simply expected a voice that thundered and reverberated; Aslan is a lion, after all.  The polished, soft-spoken voice that emitted from the mouth of Narnia’s savior was just a little too gentlemanly for my taste.

Now, keep in mind, this film was forced to compete with the remembrances of childhood, and that is a competition that will rarely prove victorious for the opponent.  I know I’m judging the film unfairly, I admit that, but I simply can’t help it.

Now, on to the positives: the special effects of the film were wonderful and primarily seamless.  Bear in mind that much of this was computer graphic animated, and I’d say that they did a superb job of blending the live action with the CG.  Costumes and locations were spot on, and the battle scenes were truly magnificent.  The adults did a very nice job with their acting, and I’m guessing the children will grow into their roles if given an opportunity, much as the chap that plays Harry Potter.

I was satisfied with this film, but I was not awestruck.  I would certainly recommend seeing it; it is worth the price of admission, no doubt.  I believe C.S. Lewis would have been satisfied with this adaptation as well, though I have to wonder what would have happened if they’d gotten a Peter Jackson or a Steven Spielberg to direct it.

Here’s looking forward to many more Chronicles of Narnia!

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis – A Book Review

Originally a series of talks given over the radio to the people of England during WWII, this collection of said dialogue explains in laymen’s terms what Christianity is and why C.S. Lewis, originally a non-believer, eventually came to Christ.  It does not give his personal story, mind you, but rather is a mixture of philosophical lectures and entertaining anecdotes as to why Christianity is a valid belief. 

Beware, this is not a light reading romp.  I found myself concentrating diligently to follow his ideas and contemplations.  In the end, I thought he did a superb job of explaining why he believes what he believes, and why everyone else should as well.  Never does he take a condescending tone, and always he appeals to the heart as well as the intellect. 

C.S. Lewis has long been considered one of the most highly respected Christian writers of the last few centuries and I’d have to agree.  However, I have a great deal of trouble believing the “common man” followed his talks on an intellectual level during the time period it originated, but perhaps I’m looking at that from a 2005 perspective.  Perhaps people were more willing to listen to complicated lectures then than they are now.   

If you are a Christian needing a contemporary view on your beliefs to serve a purpose much needed, or if you are a non-Christian just wanting to know what it is all about but without the usual stories and Scripture, then I highly recommend this book.  Put your thinking caps on though, ladies and gentlemen, this one requires intense focus.

Out Of the Silent Planet by C.S. Lewis – A Book Review

I am a big C.S. Lewis fan. He won me over as a child with his Chronicles of Narnia books, but it was his thought-provoking and inspiring Mere Christianity that solidified his genius in my mind.

That being said, it is with great vacillation that I must reveal I did not care for his science fiction novel, Out of the Silent Planet, the first in the Space Trilogy series.

I did not like it for the reason I don’t care for much of the science fiction I read, and that is specifically the use of ridiculous words that are supposed to be the natural language of the foreign environment. I believe that doing this in abundance, as Lewis did, distracts from the overall story and breaks up the cohesion and fluidity.

Also, for me, Lewis really opened my eyes with Mere Christianity. He literally knocked me out with his elegance and ingenuity. But, most of what he talks about in Mere Christianity is employed as themes throughout Out of the Silent Planet. Ordinarily this would not be a bad thing, but it just didn’t work in my mind for this particular novel. I won’t ruin the plot for you if you choose to read it, but a man travels to a far off planet and there is life there that seems to represent everything we were meant to be. Where the story fell short was in the fact that Lewis spent so much time explaining everything, not very much actually happened.

Now, I’ve heard the second book in this series gets much better, and that the third is even better still. Based upon this news alone, I may try the second book. But, if I were to base my further reading of the Space Trilogy off of Out of the Silent Planet only, it would be the last.

Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis – A Book Review

I largely credit my love of reading with The Chronicles of Narnia.  My fourth grade teacher read the entire series to our class and I loved every minute of it.  With the contemporary release of theatrical versions of the first two installments, I’ve enjoyed rereading the books for the first time in twenty years.

Prince Caspian is beautifully simplistic.  Aimed at children, the ideas of duty, compassion, and heroism are wonderfully relayed in an easily digestible format.  When I was a child, I found the stories incredibly stimulating, but now as an adult I realize the life-lessons Lewis taught with each installment of The Chronicles of NarniaPrince Caspian is the story of doing the right thing even when you must go against everything that seems natural.  It is the story of putting your faith in a higher power and purpose and leaving mundane worries behind. 

Keep in mind, however, that Lewis offered more than just a morality tale.  Prince Caspian lays the groundwork for an epic story to come.  In Narnia, Lewis created a varied and fantastic world where mythology, religion, and reality seamlessly meld.

I so look forward to reading the rest of this series as an adult and critically analyze Lewis’ style and purpose.  I also, however, look forward to reading the series to my daughter when she’s old enough.  I can’t wait to see the wonderment in her eyes that only a child can experience.