Skip to main content

Narnia Back on the Big Screen?


So it was announced last week, The Chronicles of Narnia may be back on film! Isn’t that great? According to his twitter, David Magee the screenwriter of Finding Neverland and Life of Pi has completed a screenplay of The Silver Chair, the fourth published (but sixth chronological) instalment in C.S. Lewis’ series. Which is great! But as to the previous Narnia film franchise, it’s been six years since Voyage of the Dawn Treader disappointed at the box office enough to kill the series. This new film is then going to be a reboot, relaunching Narnia as a film series. And I have to ask the question, why?
The last two Narnia films did not do well at the box office so the demand for this is a little in question. But then again, The Chronicles of Narnia are a rich series of books with lots of good material. Having read all the books as a kid I’d love to see them adapted. As would many. But of course this is very much the Spider-Man situation, in that it’s a reboot less than a decade after the last film. And unlike Spider-Man where any stories can be done (remember that, new Spider-Man movie!), this is a series of books that has an already laid out story. And one with returning characters and a chronology, so the order in which you make the films is very important.
And that accounts for the problem of where they’re starting. The Silver Chair is the sixth Narnia book. Out of seven. If a studio wanted to make this film as a one-off that’d be fine, but it sounds like their gambling on a series. But where’s the logic in starting a series at the second from last instalment. It’d be like auctioning Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince as the first Harry Potter movie. I understand why they want to reboot. Even if they wanted to continue from where they left on, there’s one returning character from a previous Narnia story: Eustace Scrubb. And while Will Poulter knocked it out of the park and was one of the best things of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader for me, he’s much too old now to reprise his role. And he’s appearing in movies like The Revenant so things are going great for him! In doing The Silver Chair, they’ll have to cast the character with an actor who will somehow be younger when they get to Voyage again. And starting in the middle of the story would be very confusing for movie-going audiences.
If you’re going to reboot Narnia you have to start from a more introductory vantage point. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was the first written and is by far the best known of the series. You can start there, but we did just see that story in 2005. If you want to play it safe and make a standalone movie, there’s also The Horse and his Boy which is pretty much the Narnia series’ equivalent of an anthology film. But even though the characters and story are new without much if any effect on the other novels, it doesn’t set up the context of the world and is set entirely therein. The best option would be to start the series on a Narnia book that both introduces the world but can also stand on its own in case it fails to increase interest in a series. The Magician’s Nephew is the perfect way to go. Not only is it the first chronologically in the series but shows the creation of Narnia (yeah this series has a lot of Biblical allegories), while at the same time being an independent story. Very little of what takes place feeds into the other stories apart from giving a bit of context to a few aspects of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. And also The Magician’s Nephew is just a great fantasy book. Though I prefer Voyage and yes, The Silver Chair, The Magician’s Nephew has a tone and sense of imagination that sets it apart. There are environments we don’t get in the other Narnia series while still having the right sense of corniness. It’s the perfect place to reboot the Narnia series, offering a new adventure with new characters and setting up the world adequately while not being dependant on follow-up films.
And if you don’t think The Magician’s Nephew will work, don’t even try. At least not on a big budget live-action film. Hell this may be a series that would work better in animation. Like Harry Potter I’d be very curious to see The Chronicles of Narnia done by Studio Ghibli or some anime studio. But trying to restart a franchise right in the middle isn’t a good idea. Especially when it’s of a series that hasn’t been all that financially successful in over a decade. I’d love to see more Narnia films; the imagination, stories, and characters are rich enough that I’d love to see them on the big screen! But The Silver Chair as much I like it, is not the place to start a rebooted series and probably isn’t going to work out if attempted.
Let’s try again in a decade and I’ll be first in line for The Magician’s Nephew

Popular posts from this blog

Mary Tyler Moore's Best Moments

A couple days ago, we lost the icon Mary Tyler Moore. On the Mount Rushmore of groundbreaking comediennes, Moore has an undeniable place (with Lucille Ball, Carol Burnett, and Cloris Leachman). She was often the best part of the Dick Van Dyke Show, making for half of one of the greatest TV couples. Through her own series, she was a key part of one of the most important and timeless shows of all time. Her kindness, perseverance, and good humour made her a role model for all, but especially women and girls whose greater representation in media she pioneered. She was such an endearingly sweet woman, a champion of diabetes research and a great philanthropist. When watching either of her classic shows, she always felt like a good friend. And now the world has lost that friend.
          In honour of her passing, I want to highlight just some of my favourite Mary Tyler Moore moments both as Laura Petrie and Mary Richards, that attest to what a great comedic and inspirational talen…

Disney Sundays: Moana (2016)

When I heard that the next Disney movie, Moana was going to be based around Hawaii, I was tempted to say, “haven’t we been here before?’ It doesn’t feel like too long ago that we had Lilo & Stitch. I was more curious though when I heard it would revolve around Hawaiian mythological figures like Maui and fantastical monsters. But then I remembered Ron Clements and John Musker were the directors behind Hercules and I worried. However I needn’t have, as Moana is easily the pair’s best film since Aladdin.
          A teenage girl called Moana, resident of a small isolated tribe on one of the Polynesian islands, is chosen by the ocean to be an emissary to the banished demigod Maui and convince him to return the Heart of the Sea (a small pounamu stone) to Te Fiti -the goddess he stole it from who’s cursed their world with famine as retribution.
          Though this is a standard and fittingly mythic hero's journey, the story is nonetheless an exciting one to follow due in…

Overlooked Specials 12th Day of Christmas

12th Day of Christmas:
Blackadder’s Christmas Carol This Christmas Day how about we dispense with the feels in favour of a mean but comedically genius one-off of Britain’s best series. Even if you’re unfamiliar with Blackadder, the series about a witty schemer reincarnated through various periods in British history, this special should still make you laugh. An inversion of A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Blackadder played of course to perfection by Rowan Atkinson is the kindest man in England which everyone uses to take advantage of him. But an encounter with a Spirit of Christmas causes him to change his ways. Most of the Blackadder cast: Atkinson, Tony Robinson as Baldrick, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and Miranda Richardson appear here and are excellent, as are guests Miriam Margolyes, Jim Broadbent, and Robbie Coltrane in a role I’m sure inspired J.K. Rowling to request him for Hagrid. And the writing from Richard Curtis and Ben Elton is as sharp as ever. It’s relentlessly enjoyable, funny…