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



Release date: Dec. 12, 2006

It doesn't advance the story, but if there is anything a viewer wanted to see more of in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe," it is a longer version of the fabulous final battle, and that is where much of the new footage can be found on the outstanding Walt Disney Home Entertainment Four-Disc Extended Edition (retail $42.99). The theatrical film ran a sensible 135 minutes, and it is likely that initial audiences could have become restless if it were much longer than that, especially since it is such a superbly designed family entertainment. But on home video, things can be stretched a little, and the 150-minute Extended Edition adds extra touches of fantasy and emotion here and there, enriching the film on an almost subconscious level -- the story still seems to just breeze by -- that is, until the big battle, where all sorts of fantastic effects shots and complete sequences of blows and counter-blows have been inserted to the chronology of the fight. The film was already a highly entertaining meal, but now its dessert is bigger and zestier.

The picture is presented in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback. The color transfer is identical to the standard release, which is to say that it generally looks terrific, but there are times when the computer animation is not the most seamless ever devised. The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound and DTS sound are also identical to the earlier release and are fantastic.

There are French and Spanish tracks in 5.1 Dolby, optional English, French and Spanish subtitles, a trivia subtitling track and the 5-minute blooper reel that was included on the original release. The two commentary tracks from the earlier release are also repeated, one featuring the production crew and one featuring the three young stars and director Andrew Adamson. When the extended footage appears, the program just reverts to the film's soundtrack. The second platter is also identical to the second platter on the earlier release, featuring 202 minutes of various production featurettes and background materials.

The third platter contains a 76-minute documentary about author C.S. Lewis. It is awkwardly designed, with part of it pretending to be told in Lewis' own words, but if you look past that, it is a detailed biography examining not only his experiences and achievements, but the emotional events that contributed to his persona. There are interviews with people who knew him, archival materials, and extensive summaries and analyses of most of the Narnia books.

The fourth platter has a very good 140-minute production documentary that essentially works its way through the film, scene by scene, discussing how the performances, effects and so on were achieved in each sequence. Often presented in split screen, the program guides you through the entire film, describing what goals were to be accomplished and how those goals were achieved, as well as providing interviews with the cast and crew, explaining what Lewis' intentions were to begin with, and, in effect, providing a comprehensive alternative viewing experience for the feature. There is an additional 8-minute piece on the climactic battle and an extensive still gallery of conceptual artwork.

The complete database of Doug Pratt's DVD-video reviews is available at A sample copy of the DVD-Laser Disc Newsletter can be obtained by calling (516) 594-9304.