(The Disneycember logo is shown, before showing clips from The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A piece of the film's score, "The Battle" by Harry Gregson-Williams, plays in the background)
Doug (vo): With the success of The Lord of the Rings, it only made sense that Disney sort of wanted to do their own version. But because they couldn’t get Tolkien, they decided to go to his best friend, C.S. Lewis. And since Disney is more kid-oriented, it made more sense to go to a story that was also a bit more kid-oriented. Enter The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I have to admit, when I heard they were making a movie on this, I did get a little nervous as I knew the story and I didn’t know if audiences would connect with it. It is, when you get down to it, really strange and really bizarre, but they found a really good mix, updating the effects and tone while still keeping true to the book’s spirit. Think Bedknobs and Broomsticks meets The Two Towers.
Doug (vo): It starts off in wartime and four children have to be separated from their mother. They’re sent to live with a professor who has an enchanted wardrobe, and when you walk inside, you enter into a fictional realm called Narnia. But Narnia is currently being ruled by an evil sorceress known as the White Queen*. But, as the kids journey into the land and find out more about it, they discover that they’re actually fulfilling a prophecy that they would be the heroes to lead her into ruin, and that they would result in the return of Aslan, a giant heroic lion who will bring light back to the good land of Narnia. Colorful characters are met, destinies are discovered, and battles are fought to decide who will rule the enchanted kingdom.
- [She's actually called the White Witch].
Doug (vo): I was really impressed with how well they were taking sort of these silly images and elements and actually making them very serious. Two of the best friends in this are talking beavers, and I really thought, "Oh, man, this is gonna bomb when we get to that." But it works out really well. The animation on them is very good and they have very distinct characteristics and personalities. The White Queen is a good villain and all the child actors do a pretty good job, too. (Referring to Susan) And, yes, I know that looks like Lindsay Ellis. I’ve made that joke before. What really helps pull it through is the heart that it has, and there is a lot of it in here. The book itself is very vague and a quick read, but here, they give a lot of details to the characters’ connection and relationships, the best one being with Lucy and Mr. Tumnus. My God, I love watching these two together. That’s James McAvoy, who I’m convinced can do absolutely no wrong. Well, almost.
[A poster of the 2008 action film Wanted is briefly shown]
Doug (vo): The scenes these two have together just knock it out of the park. I almost wish it was just about them. But when the action has to come in and the story has to get a lot bigger, it does exactly that. I’ll warn you now, though, that if you thought some of the religious symbolism in The Lord of the Rings was a bit obvious, this beats you over the head with it. There is no doubt who these characters are, what they’re representing, it’s in your face. But I didn’t mind too much because it still makes for a good story. Even if I didn’t know what it was symbolic of, I would still really enjoy it. The only thing I couldn’t get into was the story arc with Peter. He’s supposed to be the king, the big ruler, the guy who’s supposed to come into his own and rule the kingdom and, yeah, he’s just kind of bland. I had the same problem with Aragorn in Return of the King. He’s supposed to be the ruler, the guy who’s supposed to be in charge of everything, and all you do is just see him chop up a bunch of guys, nothing much else.
Doug (vo): I think if they got that element down, this would be on par with some of the great epic fantasies, but as is, it’s still pretty good. It’s probably one of the most difficult adaptations you could do in terms of making it serious, and I think it really pays off. The child actors are good, the animation’s really good, the effects are a lot of fun, and when you get to the end, it does feel really big. I’m really impressed with it. It’s not an easy story to adapt and I think they did a damn good job. Is it for everyone? No. I mean, if you’re looking for something that has a lot more detail and logic to it, it isn't really that kind of story. But for just pure straight-up fantasy with a lot of incredible creatures and visuals, this one’s definitely worth the trip.
[The film's final scene, showing the wardrobe opening by itself and revealing a light, is shown]