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For the kids, THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE ($35) is a stunning achievement in fantasy cinema. When I originally saw the film in the theater, the kid inside me marveled at the visual spectacle on the screen and I have to admit I was carried off into the fantasy world created by author C.S. Lewis. I know some adults did not care all that much for the movie, but I would have to guess that the great number of them have lost touch with their inner child, and have difficulty marveling at fantasy for its own sake.

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE is set during the WWII era and concerns the four Pevensie children, who live in London with their mother during The Blitz. Like so many other English children Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are sent off to the relative safety of the British countryside, and in their case, to live with Professor Digory Kirke (Jim Broadbent) and his Mrs MacReady (Elizabeth Hawthorne). A rainy afternoon’s game of hide-and-seek finds Lucy hiding in an old wardrobe, one in which she discovers a porthole to a magical kingdom called Narnia. Eventually, all four Pevensie children make their way to Narnia, where they learn they are part of a prophecy in which two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve are destined to free the kingdom from the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton), who usurped the thrown of Narnia from its true king, a lion named Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson). The cast of also includes THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE James McAvoy, Kiran Shah, James Cosmo, Judy McIntosh, Patrick Kake, Shane Rangi, Rachael Henley, Mark Wells, Noah Huntley, Sophie Winkleman, Ray Winstone, Dawn French and Rupert Everett.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment has made THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.40:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE has been provided with a relatively gorgeous looking 1080p presentation. Image sharpness and detail is generally excellent, although the expected compromises are made to integrate live action and digital characters into the same shot. Shots without digital elements are somewhat crisper than those with digital elements, but the differences are not so pronounced that they call attention to themselves. Close-ups are can demonstrate tremendous clarity and fine details, although textures and even individual hairs are still discernable even in wider shots. Colors in the real world are far less vibrant than they appear in Narnia, but at the film’s climax is where color intensity really shows itself off. Blacks are right on the money, as are the whites. Contrast and shadow detail register as first rate. The elements from which the movie has been mastered are pretty much without flaws. Grain is noticeable, but it is never excessive.

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel uncompressed PCM soundtrack. Not surprisingly, this fantasy film which features fboth action and battle sequences comes with a highly impressive soundtrack. Fidelity is marvelous for both the music and sound effects, plus the sound design is wonderfully enveloping. Additionally, sound effects are aggressively deployed throughout the entire soundstage, with all of the outlying channels springing to life. Dialogue is perfectly rendered, with natural sounding voices and complete intelligibility. The bass channel is powerful and tends to shake the ground quite a bit. English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials, which have been spread across both discs of this set. Disc one features two running Audio Commentaries; the first is with director Andrew Adamson, producer Mark Johnson, and production designer Roger Ford, while the second features Adamson again, along with young stars William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley. On the text side, one will find Discover Narnia Fun Facts, which augments the film with pop up text. Trailers for other Disney titles and Bloopers close out disc one.

Moving on to disc two, one will find the remainder of the supplemental programming. Documentary style programs fall under the heading of Creating Narnia and are as follows. Chronicles Of A Director runs thirty-seven minutes and covers a multitude of topics directly influenced by the director’s vision. The Children’s Magical Journey spends twenty-six minutes with the young stars and their experiences on the film. Cinematic Storytellers runs nearly an hour and looks at the various people and production departments required to bring a film of this scale to life. Anatomy Of A Scene clocks in at almost twenty minutes and dissects two effects laden sequences. From One Man’s Mind is a three-minute Cliff Notes version of the life and career of author C.S. Lewis. Creating Creatures is another nearly hour-long look at the legendary creatures brought to life in the film. Creatures, Lands, And Legends & Creatures Of The World are either to be considered variation on a theme, or more of the same. The final two non-documentary supplements are Explore Narnia (interactive maps) and Battle For Narnia (interactive role playing game).

I thoroughly enjoyed THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE on the big screen and found the Blu-ray release to be another eye-popping wonder. If you are a fan, then this is a must have high definition release. Highly recommended.



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


DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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