I am shook. 10 years ago this film was released and 15 years ago, I got to see The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe; the book I read in 5th grade on the big screen in all of its cinematic glory . Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan, the music, the magic, and wonder. It was a perfect storm. The franchise as a whole has been a treat to experience but years later still hangs in the balance.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe managed hit the number 3 film in the world next to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Prince Caspian, which made a little less than the previous film while taking on a more edgier and darker tone (and rightfully so, depending on who you ask) received mixed reviews, creating an obstacle for production on the third film. This led to Disney leaving Voyage of the Dawn Treader and 20th Century Fox taking over the project. The film raked in some decent box office returns but the future of the franchise seemed unlikely, and it wasn’t until Netflix took over the series that hopes for any future installment would happen.
I’m hopeful because if they can successfully make the Hobbit movies, there is still a place for Narnia. While it’s been ten years, I think there is a way to ignite fandom once more.
I truly enjoyed this film. I think many Narnia fans had issue with the it due to its narrative direction. Instead of a traditional antagonist (in the novel there isn’t one since it’s a search and rescue mission), Michael Apted, the director of the film, used a portion of a plotline from the Silver Chair, the fourth book from the Narnia series, and expertly wove it into this narrative by featuring an enemy that is purely mystical and feeds on the inner self. I found this choice compelling when it was explained in the audio commentary. I could understand how that might turn away some critics, fans and non-fans. However in 2020, I think it provides insight looking back.
Actors Georgie Henley, Skanadar Keynes, and Ben Barnes shine in this film as Lucy, Edmund and Caspian. Newcomer Will Poulter, the snobby Eustace Scrubb, goes through an amazing character arc. Poulter would then go on to star in amazing films like Maze Runner, We’re the Millers, Midsommar and the Revenant.
I hope it works out for him… wink wink.
Lucy and Edmund hit their stride as they take in Narnia with ease as their cousin tries (cough cough) to adapt. They follow Caspian in his quest to find the seven lords of Telmar. This film shows how far these characters we know and love have matured. We bear witness to how far they can go in life once they learn to shed what holds them back from reaching their full potential—except Reepicheep, God bless him. Simon Pegg, who was cast as the voice, is always a win. He has reached his full potential and imparts some amazing wisdom. The score is wondrous and it is a heartfelt film that helps you realize why you love this world. The ending left me in tears and I hope it continues one day. I am proud to be a Narnia fan for all time.
Oh, and Carrie Underwood delivers an award nominated song at the film and we see the wonders of the late Pauline Baynes’ magical illustrations. Icing on the never ending Narnia cake of wonders.
Thank you Michael Apted for delivering a truly masterful film worthy of the Lewis legacy. Rest in Power. Feel free to watch Amazing Grace and The World is Not Enough among many of his other films.