The Good

A strong film that seems like it is destined to be a classic.

The Bad

This vinyl, slipcase covering cannot help but attract handprints all over it.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe begins with Edmund, Lucy, Peter and Susan being sent to the home of a weird professor. It is World War II and their parents feel that this is the safest place for them. Things seem boring around this new home until Lucy discovers a wardrobe during a game of hide and seek. It is here that Lucy is magically taken to the world of Narnia. This wondrous place is ruled quite kindly by the lion Aslan, and Lucy soon realizes that winter never ends here. Apparently a white witch named Jadis has cursed Narnia so that Christmas will never come there. Thus, the story really begins as the kids fight with Aslan to help save Narnia. However, nothing is ever this simple as Jadis offers many temptations that appeal to some of the children's selfish natures.

All in all, it is very easy to see why The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe captivated audiences how it did. Filled with very solid performances and cutting edge special effects, this is the kind of movie that will be with families and in DVD collector's collections forever.

Features

Disc One:

Commentary Tracks

One can listen to a Filmmaker's commentary track or they can listen to one with the Filmmaker and the child stars of the movie. I chose to listen to the Filmmaker track because I wanted to know his personal take on the film. Just watching this movie, I would have no idea where to begin if somebody were to hand me a script and expect to see a completed film. I am amazed at how easy director Andrew Adamson made it all feel. From a production sense, to the special effects, to everything that it took to bring this movie out of the C.S. Lewis book and on to the big screen, Adamson transfers his passion for this project onto his listeners.

Discover Narnia Facts

Bloopers

I had to watch these mainly because with a film this large you need levity whenever you can get it. One can tell that Adamson really loves and respects children, and I think a certain playfulness on the set came across very nicely here. While these bloopers aren't anything that special, it was nice to see the people in this film as human beings as opposed to what we only see them as in the world of the movie.

Disc Two:

Creating Narnia

This segment is actually broken up into many smaller segments, but for the purposes of this review I decided that I would discuss them all together and only touch on the ones I felt were really important. Lets be honest, in a release like this the bonus features, after awhile, tend to take on a redundant quality. I particularly liked the Chronicles of A Director segment, The Children's Magical Journey and the 8 chapter Cinematic Storytellers.

With Chronicles of A Director, it was nice to be able to see what director Andrew Adamson was up against. This showed the nuts and bolts of the production, from working with the script, to composing shots, to signing off on various story elements that he had to assume would appease the fans. The Children's Magical Journey was nice because I think I got to see a little bit of what I missed out on by not watching their commentary for this movie. We find out about their roles, what they had to go through in making this film, and most importantly, what it was like to be a part of a movie of this quality, depth and scale.

Lastly, the 8 chapter Cinematic Storytellers piece gave us people like Richard Taylor of the Weta Workshop and Howard Berger of the KNB Creature shop, who used their skills to help give The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe it's distinct, amazing and varied inhabitants. This was really interesting just because so much work goes into bringing these kinds of things to life, and I really feel like in this four disc set we are taken into the many different phases of the The Chronicles of Narnia experience.

Creatures, Lands and Legends

Disc Three:

C.S. Lewis - Dreamer of Narnia

Having seen the film Shadowlands, I was especially excited to watch this movie that examined the man who made The Chronicles of Narnia possible. Narrated by someone who is supposed to be C.S. Lewis, we get a great deal of people who knew the man, or are very familiar with his work, talking about his life. In all honesty, Disney could probably have put this out on a separate DVD, but having it exclusive to this set really adds a nice warmth to the whole package.

Disc Four:

Visualizing The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

At about this point in my viewing of the special features, I was starting to think that they may have gone overboard. Sadly, even though this segment on the visual look of the film was quite well done, I feel like a lot of that ground had already been covered on the other discs. Also, there is a lot of information given to us as we are viewing this thing, and I actually found it somewhat hard to keep up. Truthfully, had I viewed this disc first, I think that my review of it would have been a lot more favorable

Anatomy of A Scene: Behind the Battle

The Art of Narnia

In this segment we are given "Concept Art," "Landscapes" and "Maquettes." Presented in stills one after another, you can move through all of these sections, or just set back and let them play before you. As I have an interest in drawing, I was excited to see the concept ideas, as well as the landscapes that seemed to emanate from them. The "Maquettes" were interesting, but as I don't care to much about that side of art, I didn't pay too much attention to that portion of this section.

Video

Widescreen - 2.35:1. Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions. In all honesty, I have never seen a movie that looked like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe. Knowing I hadn't been given just any film to review, I decided to watch it on a bigger TV than normal with a surround system. I was completely swallowed up by this experience. Everything was so large and full, the details so rich that I could only wonder how it might look in one of the next generation formats. In addition to that, I think putting this film on one disc was a smart move because a movie like this could really be marred if it was overcompressed.

Audio

English 5.1 Home Theater Mix. English DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound. French and Spanish Language Tracks. French and Spanish subtitles. The sound was only a problem because I watched it on my Dad's surround sound system, and I don't think he has quite figured out how to hook everything up. The audio was quite good, I guess I was just expecting it to be the biggest part of the experience, and truthfully, I was more blown away by the images on screen than I was by anything in the audio department.

Package

This silver and gold embossed front cover makes this 4 disc set look like a book. They have the same image of Aslan that was used to promote this movie in theaters and on the initial DVDs. On the back of this slipcase covering there is a picture of what this set looks like when it's opened, a description of what the set contains, a cast list, and technical specs. You know you have hit the zeitgeist when you don't even need to describe the actual film. The four discs pull out in a piece of burgundy artwork, with each one getting it's own tray to reside in. There is more artwork from the film on this piece of the packaging, and they have even included a booklet to help buyers navigate through all the features of the 4 discs contained therein.

Final Word

I didn't watch The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe when it played in theaters because the movie was battling King Kong at the box office and I felt that I had to be loyal to Peter Jackson. I was also a bit turned off because it seemed like this movie was one with major religious overtones. Not that I mind that (I loved The Passion of the Christ), but I didn't care for the way I thought it was slyly being done. In addition to that, having seen a lot of people at Comic-Con who would be very intolerant toward anything dealing with Christianity, I thought it was odd how, just because this movie resided in the realm of fantasy, they seemed to overlook the aforementioned religious overtones. Then, I kept hearing how good this movie was and when I got a chance to review it on DVD I grabbed it.

I am sure glad I did. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe in this four disc set plays quite strongly. It is filled to the brim with Special Features and it really makes this new release feel like you have bought a collection, as opposed to a redux of the movie that was already released on DVD.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was released December 7, 2005.