Majestic fairy tale teaches life lessons to children, families


By Phil Boatwright

The Movie Reporter

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Stars: Tilda  Swinton, Rupert Everett, William Moseley, Georgie Henley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes.

Director: Andrew Adamson

Rating: PG

Some films, such as the Harry Potter, series require you to study the novels in order to comprehend the movie. A film should stand on its own. Although reading the classic by C. S. Lewis would add to the enjoyment of this cinematic adaptation, it is not required.  Director Andrew Adamson and his screenwriters have constructed a well-told good-vs.-evil parable that is enhanced by computer-generated effects rather than overshadowed by them. The atmosphere and look of the production are reminiscent of the magic good old Walt Disney brought to his best productions. There’s an optimism hovering around every allusion and parallel the adolescent leads face.

Four siblings, displaced World War II refugees, are shipped off to the mansion of a reclusive benefactor. There they discover a magical wardrobe that transports them into the realm of Narnia, a wondrous land inhabited by talking animals and mythological beings. The children soon join forces with the messianic lion, Aslan, in order to defeat the evil forces of the White Witch, a satanic figure who desires to rule this Eden-like world. 

A step up from most children’s fables, the book and film are full of evocative analogies and iconic images. And while adventures, not sermons, take center stage, most churchgoers will find that the story serves to open a rewarding dialogue between parent and child concerning the Christ-like symbolism found in the pivotal Aslan. 

Where the recent Harry Potter was dark, muddled and stale, Narnia is vibrant, clear and fresh. Indeed, not since Dorothy landed on the yellow brick road in The Wizard of Oz have young and old alike entered such an enchanting world. Its story and dialogue are witty for adults, its magical look spellbinding for kids. 

Adding up the ingredients that make this a well-made film, which include the inspired casting of newcomers William Moseley, Georgie Henley, Anna Popplewell and Skandar Keynes, each attractive and able to act opposite computer-generated costars.

Majestic, bewitching, stylish, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the best fairytale since Oz.

Though there is no blood and the filmmakers attempt to avoid excessive brutality, this good vs. evil tale does include violence – from bombs exploding to a wicked witch slapping a youngster to an all out Braveheart-like battle. There are a few jolting scenes and several scary moments; parents should attend with little ones in order to reassure. The kids learn life lessons, the film is pro-family and the spiritual insights are distinctly biblical.



Stars: Rosario Dawson, Taye Diggs, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Jesse L. Martin, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, Anthony Rapp, Tracie Thoms.  

Director: Chris Columbus

Rating: PG-13 (obscenity and adult themes including dialogue, sexual situations and the promotion of lesbian and gay lifestyles.)

Based on Puccini’s classic opera La Boheme, Jonathan Larson’s rock opera, Rent tells the story of a group of bohemians struggling to live and pay their rent against the gritty background of New York’s East Village.  These starving artists strive for success and acceptance while enduring the obstacles of poverty, illness and the AIDS epidemic.  

One of the longest running shows on Broadway, Rent was the winner of the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, the Obie Award, the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, four Tony Awards and three Drama Desk awards.  

According to one of its songs, there are 525, 600 minutes in a year. I think I spent them watching this movie. It’s an endless tirade of youthful frustration, foreboding and depression, their youthful optimism attempting to pop through the gloom that is New York slum life. They group together, putting up with each other’s nonconformist lifestyles, blaming their parents, the cops and the landlord for their predicaments. 

It’s basically about four couplings – a lesbian couple, a gay couple (one a drag queen in costume the entire film), a straight couple (she’s a smack-using dancer at a strip club), and a guy in love with his camera. They’re young, artistic and full of angst, rebellion, anti-establishment sentiments and themselves. 

It is another film that desires more than our compassion for those dealing with homosexuality; it demands that we celebrate that lifestyle. Indeed, the characters are at war with most of society’s conventions. There’s even a mocking-anti Christian phrase in a song that belittles their parents, the cops and the evil landlord.


Memoirs Of A Geisha

Stars:  Ziyi Zhang , Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, Koji Yakusho, Youki Kudoh

Director: Rob Marshal

Rating: PG-13

Based on the internationally acclaimed novel by Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha is a sweeping romantic epic set in a mysterious and exotic world of the geisha. The story begins in the years before World War II when a penniless Japanese family sells their child as a maid to a geisha house. Despite a treacherous rival who nearly breaks her spirit, the girl blossoms into the legendary geisha Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang). Beautiful and accomplished, Sayuri captivates the most powerful men of her day, but is haunted by her secret love for the one man who was kind to her as a child (Ken Watanabe).

Driven by story, characterization and gorgeous cinematography, this is exquisite filmmaking.

Although nothing is exploitive or graphic, the film has adult subject matter concerning children sold into servitude and the subsequent life of a girl raised in a geisha house. In several scenes cruelty is displayed. Te lead prays to Buddha for a miracle – there is no other scene dealing with spirituality.


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