[rating=2]Starring: Tilda Swinton, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Mosley, Anna Popplewell
Director(s): Andrew Adamson
Writer(s): Ann Peacock, Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
The Chronicles of Narnia starts off well enough. The four engaging Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and the irrepressible young Lucy, huddle in their living room while Hitler’s bombers strafe London. As the explosions near, their panicked mum herds them into the cellar. Next thing they know, they’re boarding a train for the safety of the English countryside. As their mother tearfully sends them off in the crush of the station, their anguish is palpable. Unfortunately, it is just about the most moving scene in the film. Because it is human.
So, too, is the interplay between the siblings as they try to keep a stiff upper lip while making themselves at home in the huge country estate of the mysterious Professor Kirke (Jim Broadbent in a role better suited to Christopher Lloyd.) While these scenes are slow, there is definite life to them, and the sets are rich, varied, and intriguing. And so we are hopeful when Lucy, having found the perfect place to secret herself during a game of hide and seek, discovers that the wardrobe she’s climbed into is actually the door to a snow covered forest. Our sense of wonder grows as she meets a friendly faun (a.k.a., satyr) who introduces himself as Mr. Tumnus. Vividly played by James McAvoy, we feel a thrilling pinprick of magic, and are both delighted, and a little fearful, when Lucy happily agrees to go to his house for tea. His home turns out to be a hobbit like cave in the side of a rock hill with an arched door, and as she enters the look in his eyes tells us that all is not as benign as it seems. While we know that she can’t actually be in the kind of danger this intimates, it is still riveting.