Rated: PG for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action.
Length: 113 minutes
Rotten Tomatoes: 50%
Budget: $155 million
Box Office: $422 million (104 U.S., 310 Intl., 18 DVD)
Written by: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (Narnia 1-2, You Kill Me, and The Life and Death of Peter Sellers) and Michael Petroni (Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys and Queen of the Damned), based on the novel by C.S. Lewis
Directed by: Michael Apted (Amazing Grace, Enough, Enigma, The World is Not Enough, Extreme Measures, Nell, Blink, Thunderheart, Class Action, Gorillas in the Mist, Gorky Park, Continental Divide, and Coal Miner’s Daughter)
Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, and Will Poulter
With the voices of: Liam Neeson and Simon Pegg
Separated from Peter and Susan during the War, Edmund and Lucy share quarters with their insufferable cousin, Eustace. When they find themselves yet again suddenly drawn into Narnia, they join Prince Caspian in searching for the magical lost swords that will defeat the mysterious green mist and put everything right again in the magical land.
Entertainment Value: B
Like all the other Narnia films, this is fine and good enough. It’s solid, clean family entertainment that kids of all ages will enjoy. The plot feels a bit mashed together (probably to fit into a single movie), and book loyalists have complained that the ending is butchered. The sequence of events or quest-style narrative is fine and moves along not to badly with the aid of Reepicheep’s fun and Eustace’s conversion.
Superficial Content: B+
Drugs/Alcohol A, Sex/Nudity A, Violence B+, Language A
The only real issue here is going to be violence, which is mostly the low end of fantasy action. This is PG-any-age, and I would probably have rated it G if it were up to me.
Significant Content: B
The two big themes introduced here are quite good, but they feel like add-ons to the plot rather than essentials due to scant treatment. The first is that evil tempts us by preying on our secret desire to be other than we are. Lucy secretly envies her older and more comely sister, Susan, while Edmund seeks the respect and admiration which naturally comes to his older brother, Peter. The other is that irritating and brash people are sometimes just cowards underneath who have been neglected by others. Thus all they really need is the chance to behave courageously and for someone with courage to help them and believe in them. This is they dynamic seen between Eustace and Reepicheep.
Artistic/Thought Value: B
The FX are quite captivating, especially the map sequence. If watched a handful of times, there’s certainly enough here to have some good conversations with the kids.
~Why does the beauty spell appeal to Lucy? Why does the pond of gold and the sword appeal to Edmund? What secret insecurity of yours might Satan use to tempt you? How does Jesus propose to meet that need Himself?
~What ultimately unites Eustace with Edmund and Lucy? How does a common quest or project tend to draw people together? Is this why God allows problems in this world?
~Do you think that Eustace needed to experience being a powerful dragon before he could ever believe he might be brave as a mere human? How did Reepicheep’s befriending him help transform him? Why are Christians called to so actively seek out and cherish the people who others don’t want to be around?
~In this movie, evil has the power to tempt people with what they seem to really want. Why is it so important to know the difference between our sincere but evil wishes and our real, God-given desires? How can you know which of your desires come from God and which come from somewhere else? What does Aslan mean when he says that Lucy betrayed herself by trying to wish herself away?
~When Caspian is presented with the opportunity to leave Narnia and reunite with his beloved father, why does he refrain? Why would the Christian want to leave Earth? Why must the Christian seek to stay and do the work of Christ here? If Jesus came from heaven to save this world, why would it be a rejection of the Gospel to try to leave this world and go to heaven prematurely?
~What does Aslan do in returning Eustace to his human form? What Christian themes are being explained here?
Poignant or memorable scenes:
~The beauty spell.
~The pond of gold.
Overall Grade: B
A decent effort and a fairly good movie, but it feels a bit hackneyed and Lewis purists haven’t been loving the tinkering these movies do with what they came to love in print.