The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) [Blu-Ray]

Genre(s): Action / Adventure / Drama / Fantasy
Disney || PG13 - 135 minutes - $34.99 || May 13, 2008
Reviewer: Brad Lowenberg || Posted On: 2008-05-12


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Andrew Adamson
Writer(s): C.S. Lewis (book), Ann Peacock and Andrew Adamson and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (screenplay)
Cast: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton, Jim Broadbent, Liam Neeson (voice), Ray Winstone (voice), Rupert Everett (voice), Michael Madsen (voice)


Theatrical Release Date: December 9, 2005


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director & Stars Commentary
  • Production Team Commentary
  • Discover Narnia Facts
  • Bloopers of Narnia
  • Java Game "Battle for Narnia" (Blu-Ray Exclusive)
  • Creating Narnia
  • Creatures, Lands & Legends
  • Theatrical Trailers


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (PCM 5.1), English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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.::THE FILM::.

(Synopsis) Join Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter, four siblings who step through a magical wardrobe and find the land of Narnia. There, they discover a charming, once-peaceful kingdom that has been plunged into eternal winter by the evil White Witch, Jadis. Aided by the magnificent lion Aslan, the children lead Narnia into a tremendous, climactic battle to be free of the White Witches glacial powers forever!

Based on the book by C.S. Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tells the tale of four children during World War II that escape into the world of Narnia through, you guessed, a magical wardrobe closet. The film was hyped for several years before it was released and was something I never went to see in the theaters for various reasons. Now seeing for the first time on Blu-ray I'm torn on how to feel about it.

While the film is great, I don't think its as good as everyone has been telling me for the past few years. Don't get me wrong, its an amazing movie filled with great acting and amazing visuals, but its a small step down from a more recent film in a similar style; The Golden Compass. While I went out and purchased "The Golden Compass" on audio book (for my iPod) so I can listen to and experience the missing scenes not in the film, I simply don't have the same intentions with Narnia. Again, I'm not saying Narnia is a bad movie, it simply didn't move me as much as The Golden Compass did where I thought about the film and its characters for days after and recommended a purchase to everyone I knew.

With all that aside, Narnia is simply an amazing movie to look at. Half the movie is split between a snowy, white wonderland with mountain tops iced with snow and frozen lakes while the other half is a lush, beautiful forest filled with vibrant colors and different types of plants and foliage. Along the way we meet centaurs, dwarfs, unicorns, horses, and other creatures unique to the world of Narnia. Most of the film and characters are presented in CGI, but its incredibly difficult to even tell that. Horses that talk look exactly like they would in real life and the children interact with them as if they were in the real world.

Considering I just finished watched The Golden Compass a few weeks before, I feel the story of Narnia is not as good as Compass. While both are amazing movies, I simply didn't care for the characters as much as I did in Compass. The animals were cute, but I felt no connection to the children, the Lion (Aslan), or the White Witch. I'm hoping the second movie fleshes out the characters a bit, but for this movie, I simply didn't feel it.

That's not to say the acting is bad, because its a complete opposite. All the children seem to have their roles pegged and even the youngest, Lucy (Georgie Henley) in her first role ever, acts like a pro who has done this for years before. The voice acting is amazing with Aslan (Liam Neeson) giving an amazing performance and the White Witch Jadis (Tilda Swinton) is polite, yet menacing at the same time.

Its worth noting that this Blu-ray release is the Theatrical version and not the extended cut that was released a while ago on DVD. From what I had read (and from my friend who has seen the film four different times) itís an additional 14 minutes that is mainly fluff scenes and nothing that would add any additional story to the film. Since this is a Disney release, they may plan on double-dipping on this when Prince Caspian comes out on Blu-ray. However at this point, if you want to watch Narnia right now in anticipation for Prince Caspian, get the Blu-ray, not the extended DVD version.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Blu-ray releases carries over most of the special features presented on the previous DVDs but not all. All special features are sadly presented in SD with the exception of the exclusive Blu-ray java game and the Theatrical Trailers. Narnia also comes with a shiny slipcover similar to those on Pirates of the Caribbean. A $10 coupon is also included for those that have already purchased Narnia on DVD and wish to cut out the UPC to send in (along with the Blu-ray UPC + Receipt) for a small refund check.

Disc 1 (50GB disc)

Audio Commentary with Director Andrew Adamson and the Four Children (Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Anna Popplewell and William Moseley) - An extremely energetic track that rarely has a dull moment. The kids love to talk about various scenes and shooting but do tend go on and on and on... Audio Commentary with Director Andrew Adamson, Producer Mark Johnson and Production Designer Roger Ford Ė This is a much more enjoyable track for those that want to learn about the technical aspects of the film. Quite at some points, but still enjoyable. If I had to pick one for you to listen to, it would clearly be the ones with the kids. Itís simply more entertaining.

Discover Narnia Facts - Another pop-up track with a few tidbits of information. I had this running as long as I could, but thought maybe it was not working properly due to the fact that the trivia was so far between each other. The other trivia tracks Iíve watched (First Sunday, Day of the Dead) showed more facts and they were simply more interesting.

Bloopers of Narnia (SD; 4:35) - A short featurette with various outtakes and goofs.

Worth noting are several Theatrical Trailers in HD featuring Prince Caspian, Wall*E, Sleeping Beauty, Nightmare Before Christmas, Tinkerbell and National Treasure 2.

Disc 2 (25GB Disc)

Blu-ray Exclusive Feature:
Java Game "Battle for Narnia" (HD) - To be honest with you, as someone who has played video games since I got my NES back in 1987, I was confused on how to actually play this game for the first thirty minutes. It appears to be a lot like Yu-Gi-Oh or Magic the Gathering...but I gave up. I simply don't have the patience for it since its very slow moving. Given the lack of Blu-ray players that handle Java correctly, I would only recommend playing this game on a PS3 or a newer Profile 1.1 player.

Creating Narnia (Documentaries all SD) * Chronicles of a Director (37:44) - A look at the creation of the film including casting and the creatures.
* The Children's Magical Journey (26:21) - Shows the various children's audition tapes and their toils in the film. This was a pleasure to watch after listening to the commentary with the children. Recommended Watch
* Cinematic Storytellers (54:47) - This is 8 mini interviews with various people who worked on the film or toys. It was great seeing someone I have talked to a few times at a previous job.
* Anatomy of a Scene (19:14) - This includes both The Melting River and Behind the Battle. My favorite scene of the film was the Melting River so I was ecstatic to see how it was done. Recommended Watch * From One Mans Mind (3:30) - The shortest feature on the disc gives us a glimpse into the life and death of C.S. Lewis.
* Creating Creatures (53:31) - Mini documentaries on 10 different creatures from Narnia. This includes the creation of them in CGI and other elements. Recommended Watch

Creatures, Lands & Legends (all SD)
* Characters of the World (SD; 14:42) - A look at nearly a dozen creatures from Narnia with a brief history lesson on them in a unique storybook-like sequence.
* Explore Narnia (SD; 8:00) - A documentary like feature that discusses various places from Narnia as if they were real. Recommended Watch



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Narnia is presented in 1080p (AVC/MPEG-4) 2.40:1 widescreen on a 50GB disc. This disc is absolutely demo material. As my review above mentions, half the film is in snow, while the other half is in the forest. Both times the film looks amazing. There are a few dark scenes in the film, but even then they look clean. Blacks look impressive and the final battle scene with tons of CGI looks breath taking. This is easily, by far, one of the best transfers available on Blu-ray. Disney once again is top notch.

Disney dishes out Narnia with an uncompressed PCM 5.1 English track as well as separate English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks with matching subtitles if you wish. Once again, amazing. Aslan's roar shook my windows to the point where I had to turn the volume down as I was afraid it would break. The final battle scene is filled with noises all around. Itís hard for me to even say if the film was ever silent and I was completely engrossed with sound nearly the entire film. Disney, once again shows every studio who is king.



.::OVERALL::.

Maybe itís because I never read the book, but I simply was not as interested in Narnia as I had hoped I would be. Itís far from a bad movie, but if I had to recommend one kids movie based on a classic book; it would be The Golden Compass. The Blu-ray edition packs impressive Picture and Audio quality but the extras are a bit short and all in SD. The included $10 mail-in rebate makes this an instant purchase for anyone that currently owns the DVD but longs for the delicious picture and sound of Narnia on Blu-ray.