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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE - FOUR DISC SPECIAL EDITION



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#1 of 28 Ben_Williams

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Posted December 09 2006 - 04:46 PM

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Studio: Disney
Year: 2006
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 150 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (2.35:1)
Subtitles: French & Spanish
Sound: English 5.1 Dolby Digital Home Theater Mix, DTS 5.1, English, French and Spanish 2.0


Release Date: December 12, 2006


The Movie:
(****/*****) 4/5


C.S. Lewis was a definite part of my childhood. I fondly remember watching the old cartoon version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe around the Christmas season every year and I also made a habit of periodically reading and re-reading the books. But, somewhere around my almost-teen years, I lost interest in this magical world that had, at one time, captivated me. So, I didn't quite know what to think a few years ago when I read that Disney was in the process of making a live-action feature version of this popular series. Would the magical stories I remembered from childhood still hold up for me as a somewhat cynical adult?

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is the first in a long series of adventures that follow the four Pevensie children as they discover the magical world of Narnia. When these four children are sent to live in an English country manor during the height of the London blitz of World War II, Lucy Pevensie discovers an old wardrobe that acts as a portal to the land of Narnia. Narnia is an enchanted world of talking animals, constant winter and lots of shady, evil characters. Will the children learn how to get along with each other long enough to save Narnia from the clutches of evil?

Fortunately, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was a very nostalgic trip for me. I had forgotten huge amounts of the story and really enjoyed re-discovering the characters and their early adventures in Narnia. Liam Neeson makes for an excellent Aslan the Lion and all of the four Pevensie kids are well portrayed by a group of relative newcomers. Set design is great and the special effects are also quite nice. This particular version of the film contains about 8 minutes of new material re-edited into the movie. These new additions constitute longer takes as well as more footage of Narnia scenery as the kids find their way into this new world. More importantly, however, are the additions to the epic battle near the end of the film. There is quite a bit added here with new creatures and confrontations that really do add to the overall scope of this battle. All in all, these were excellent additions that bring a nice level of additional detail to the film. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is definitely made for children, but there is enough substance here to entertain adults as well. Much has been made of the religious symbols and overtones. If you look for them, you will definitely see them, but they don't leap out and smash you over the head with a particular brand of ideology. All in all, this is a very sweet-hearted movie that is extremely entertaining. Recommended!


The Video:
(****/*****) 4/5


Disney has obviously paid a lot of attention to the way the special edition 4 disc sets of the Lord of the Rings movies were packaged. The packaging here is nearly identical. The one major difference, is that the main theatrical material is only presented on a single disc as opposed to being spread out amongst several. While the picture quality could have undoubtedly been improved by using several discs insted of one, this is still an excellent transfer. Black levels and shadow delineation are excellent. There is quite a bit of white scenery in the film and it is also nicely presented without any signs of edge enhancement or ringing. I never detected any serious macroblocking or compression artifacts. Color saturation is also excellent with tons of bright colors and exceptionally rendered flesh-tones. The one area in which this transfer could have been improved is in the area of detail. The picture can come across as ever so slightly soft. This may just be the result of my eyes becoming a bit too used to HD material, so I would appreciate any feedback from readers who have had a chance to view this title. Either way, this is a great presentation that admirably showcases this well-shot film.

The Audio:
(*****/*****) 5/5


Disney has gone to the trouble of presenting a total of 5 audio tracks for this special edition. The 5.1 Dolby Digital Home Theater Mix is very lively and well suited for this kind of release, but the DTS track is still the clearly superior format. With the DTS track, bass and mid-range seemed a lot tighter with less audible background noise and a much more engrossing soundstage. Surround channels are often extremely active and dialogue is expertly presented. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is another example of a DVD track that will make you forget about all this hoopla over next generation optical disc sound formats and remember why you were so engrossed with DVD in the first place. This is outstanding audio and is worthy of the highest recommendation I can give!

The Supplements:
(*****/*****) 5/5


Now, here's where things get interesting. The remaining three discs of this set are filled to the brim with extras. Here's what's included:

Disc 1
-Director Andrew Adamson's Extended Motion Picture With Additional Scenes.
-Bloopers
-Narnia Fun Facts
-Kids & Director Commentary.

Disc 2
-An In-Depth Look At The Two Worlds Of Narnia
-Reflections And Stories From The Cast And Crew
-An Extensive Review Of Narnia’s Creatures, Lands & Legends.

Disc 3
-C.S. Lewis - Dreamer Of Narnia

Disc 4
-Visualizing The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe: The Complete Production Experience
-Anatomy Of A Scene: Behind The Battle
-Art Of Narnia Gallery

While this set will treat you to just about any tidbit of info that you might ever want to discover regarding the production of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the real gem of the package is disc three's feature-length documentary on the life and work of C.S. Lewis. C.S. Lewis: Dreamer of Narnia is a fascinating look into the mind of this brilliant man and his writing. This one feature could warrant a DVD release all to itself, so its inclusion here is pretty fantastic. As far as production material is concerned, I was very impressed with the animal characters in the movie, so I really enjoyed the various behind the scenes effects documentaries. There is a huge amount of detail regarding the design and creation of the animal characters with a special emphasis on Aslan the Lion. The various commentary tracks are also fun to listen to. Director Adamson is pretty technical in his, but does convery a sense of the importance of getting this film right. These extras are so overwhelming, that about the only thing I didn't find was any kind of documentary on the folks who provided the catering for the film. Of course, I might have missed it, so I'll keep looking. This is a very comprehensive grouping of extras, so if you enjoy diving into behind the scenes material, you'll just love this. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

The Final Analysis:
(*****/*****) 5/5


The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is an outstanding family film that can be enjoyed by just about everyone. Video and Audio are first rate and the three discs worth of supplements could potentially occupy half a day of viewing. A lot of care has gone into the making of this four disc special edition. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

Equipment used for this review:
Panasonic DMP-BD10 Blu-Ray Player
Mitsubishi HD1000U Front Projector
Carada 93” diagonal 16x9 Criterion Series/Brilliant White Screen – www.carada.com
Rotel RSX-1056 Surround Receiver
Rotel RB-1080 Amplifier
B&W Speakers
M&K MX-125 Subwoofer
Interconnects: www.catcables.com

#2 of 28 Bill Thomann

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Posted December 09 2006 - 05:58 PM

Sounds like a great 4 disc set. My only question is do the 7 minutes of added footage standout enough to make it a double dip from the extremely well done 2 disc SE? I've read that all features on the 2 disc are also on the 4 disc plus additional ones but if the movie doesn't have something that stands out (like the couple of dino scenes in King Kong EE) I'll stick with the 2 disc. Great review!

#3 of 28 Joseph J.D

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Posted December 09 2006 - 06:11 PM

I would also like to know more details about the added scenes to this film. Also......considering that this is a very in-depth set, I would have wanted more information on the extras as they are very extensive. Your description seems to only scratch the surface of this material. I would have expected a much more detailed analysis of this set. Still, I do plan on purchasing it.....probably not on release day as I am considering the giftset as a purchase during the boxing day sales.

Edit: Changed my mind and bought the non-giftset version. After seeing the bookends, I thought they were alright....but not worth an extra $40 Cdn to pick up.
Recently watched- Lost: Season 1, True Grit(2010), Tales From The Crypt: Season 1, 300: Rise Of An Empire 3D, Noah, Sin City, Phantom Of The Paradise, 300, The Final Terror, Willow, The Bank Job, One Hour Photo, Gone Baby Gone, Horrible Bosses, Buried, Escape Plan, Sudden Impact

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#4 of 28 Sam Davatchi

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Posted December 09 2006 - 08:46 PM

Yes, more than anything I would like to know the differences between the 2 versions first.

#5 of 28 RogerH

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Posted December 10 2006 - 01:18 AM

I think I'll stick with the 2-disc version. btw is that the real box art? It is UGLY.

#6 of 28 Colin Jacobson

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Posted December 10 2006 - 04:35 AM

The extra footage is REALLY minor. I saw a site somewhere with a review that detailed all the changes - can't remember where, unfortunately. I know from watching it myself, I noticed very few additions/differences. I'd seen Narnia twice before the Extended Edition, so you'd think I'd notice changes without a ton of trouble, but the alterations were really slight...
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#7 of 28 Dave Hahn

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Posted December 10 2006 - 04:44 AM

There is an excellent review at NarniaWeb.com by "GlumPuddle" that explains all the added footage in great detail.

http://www.narniaweb...044&dl=11155140
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#8 of 28 Matthew Clayton

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Posted December 10 2006 - 07:15 AM

The additions covered in the analytical review seem rather neglible. Granted, some of them restore bits from the book like the Beavers catching fish for dinner, but all, it doesn't seem to really improve or hurt the film in terms of pacing. Even with all the enticing new bonus material, I'm just not a big fan of the movie to double-dip on this title. I'll just stick with my single-disc edition.

But anyway... for the four-disc set, does it still have the same amount of chapter selections? Also, I'm wondering if the art for the 4-disc set is actually silkscreened or if it's still that translucent, piracy-deterrant stuff Disney implemented a year ago.

#9 of 28 Arild

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Posted December 10 2006 - 09:19 AM

I have mixed feelings about this extended edition. I thought the additions to the train station and train ride scenes hurt the pacing a bit, and threw off the musical score in such a way that the impact of the scenes are lessened because of it. On the other hand, I liked the extended walking-through-Narnia bits. As for the battle scenes, I felt they didn't really need to be expanded upon, but the extensions do work pretty well.

The documentary on Lewis was pretty interesting though. Lots of info I didn't know. It's the kind of bonus material I can see myself going back and watch again later. Although, it's strictly about Lewis and doesn't relate directly to the movie.

#10 of 28 Adam_WM

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Posted December 10 2006 - 12:26 PM

7 minutes? Come on. I have the 2 discer and honestly, I haven't even put in the 2nd disc. I guess I don't love it ask much as I should Oh well.

Great review, but I'll still with my gut and pass on it.
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#11 of 28 Mark_TB

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Posted December 10 2006 - 02:22 PM

Well, I still want (and have ordered) it. I'm looking forward to it for the extras, but I have a feeling, based on these comments, that I'll still prefer the theatrical cut of the film itself.

I would guess that if you weren't really interested in the extras, this wouldn't be worth the double-dip.

Mark

#12 of 28 Tim Glover

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Posted December 10 2006 - 05:51 PM

I loved Narnia and have the 2 disc SE already and will just wait and HOPE that Disney will jump on the HD-DVD bandwagon soon and release this Posted Image

#13 of 28 DanFe

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Posted December 11 2006 - 03:13 PM

Narnia will be on bluray; that is known already.

#14 of 28 Craig_Ehr

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Posted December 11 2006 - 04:09 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanFe
Narnia will be on bluray; that is known already.

Yes, but hopefully it will include this longer cut (or preferably both the theatrical and extended cuts via seamless branching) so I don't have to hi-def double-dip. I'm holding out for Blu-ray - I already passed on the original theatrical cut dvd and now I'm passing on this release patiently awaiting BD.

#15 of 28 DanFe

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Posted December 11 2006 - 07:02 PM

Yep. That is why I'm sending mine back to Amazon unopened. Going to buy Smallville Season 5 instead.

#16 of 28 James Ryfun

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Posted December 12 2006 - 11:35 AM

Just a small heads up on this release - it's going to be extremely limited. If the rumblings I'm hearing are correct, it actually goes out of print by the end of January 2007.

#17 of 28 JohnMor

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Posted December 12 2006 - 05:16 PM

Can anyone tell me if this comes with a booklet? I got mine tonight and it has a pocket for a booklet, but nothing in it except the rebate coupon. It seems like a pretty big pocket for no contents...Posted Image

#18 of 28 Will_B

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Posted December 12 2006 - 06:38 PM

Quote:
Just a small heads up on this release - it's going to be extremely limited. If the rumblings I'm hearing are correct, it actually goes out of print by the end of January 2007.

Really? Well accurate or not, that was enough to prompt me to place my order just now. Magical film. I must reread the books sometime.
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#19 of 28 Joseph J.D

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Posted December 13 2006 - 01:17 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnMor
Can anyone tell me if this comes with a booklet? I got mine tonight and it has a pocket for a booklet, but nothing in it except the rebate coupon. It seems like a pretty big pocket for no contents...Posted Image

Yeah....it came with the companion guide. I didn't look at it in great detail but it should have the menu chart for the discs inside.
Recently watched- Lost: Season 1, True Grit(2010), Tales From The Crypt: Season 1, 300: Rise Of An Empire 3D, Noah, Sin City, Phantom Of The Paradise, 300, The Final Terror, Willow, The Bank Job, One Hour Photo, Gone Baby Gone, Horrible Bosses, Buried, Escape Plan, Sudden Impact

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#20 of 28 JohnMor

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Posted December 13 2006 - 04:22 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joseph J.D
Yeah....it came with the companion guide. I didn't look at it in great detail but it should have the menu chart for the discs inside.

Thanks! Grrrrr. Why does this always happen to me? My fingers have some sort of radar for dvds missing their booklets. Posted Image





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