Watching Films with one's children can be a struggle of choices, from watching a film that suits the varying ages of your offspring to choosing a film that as an adult won't bore you with sentiment, tedium or just plain stupidity.
As my eldest boy reaches the age of eight, he and I have increasingly been watching films with a higher film rating. Don't get me wrong I quite enjoy most films aimed at a younger audience. When watching The Lego Movie I think I laughed the loudest and most often in the cinema, but after years of the same style of film it is refreshing to watch something with a little more action and excitement, even if it still ventures mostly into a fantastical realm.
Which brings me to; The Chronicles of Narnia which we've now watched in chronological order.
Firstly - The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. (2005)
Watching it with my son, I felt magically transported to my own childhood and remembered why I fell in love with the book and subsequent TV show in the first place. It is fantastical, as a child you could imagine yourself finding this cupboard, landing in Narnia having tea with Mr Tumnus, meeting Aslan and fighting the White Witch.
The standouts within the film would have to be Tilda Swinton as the The White Witch, she takes this well known and developed character and truly makes it her own. A Young Georgie Hensley as Lucy who truly convinces you to believe in this world. Lastly the costumes and design are just magical, with talking animals and beautiful sceneries, it offers everything you need from a film to escape and believe in it.
Yes the film may have its problems, but who cares. A child doesn't see that, they see this film as a beautiful world to escape into, full of wonderful characters who may scare and excite them and the heroes of this world are children just like them.
Secondly - Prince Caspian (2008)
I wish I could gush as easily about this film as I can about the prior.
I found this film moved too hastily and introduced characters that we were never able to explore and get to know, let alone care about. The Pevensie children return to Narnia and discover that hundreds of years have passed since their reign and Narnia is now ruled by General Miraz whilst the true heir Prince Caspian is in hiding in exile.
With far too much time given to the action scenes of the film and little time getting to know the characters, I often found myself watching it and asking why are these people fighting, who are they again? Not even the presence of the Pevensie Siblings and Aslan, all characters we know from the previous film, helped in any essence to transport you back to Narnia and the children, as all children grow up, changed into entirely different characters and you were left again asking who are these people and why are they doing that?
With more time developing the characters new and old alike and their relationship to this world and the people within it, this film could have easily lost you once more into a magical realm of make believe, but instead it left me feeling bored and kinda confused.
Bringing me lastly to
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Now we find only the two youngest Pevensie children traveling into Narnia along with their obnoxious cousin Eustace, which could often be misheard as Useless, giggle. Whilst living with their cousin in Cambridge and their elder siblings now too grownup for Narnia and Childs play live in the USA with their parents. Lucy, Edmund and Eustace are transported to Narnia through a painting of a ship which spills out water into their room transporting the three back to Narnia. This scene was beautifully done.
Rescued by Caspian now the king in a peaceful Narnia, they aboard the Royal ship The Dawn Treader and set off for more Narnian filled adventures.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was a far more enjoyable film to its predesecor Prince Caspian, it just seemed to flow better. Though the story felt a bit rushed and corny with certain plot points going nowhere it is after all the third film in a fledging series and it will never live up to the expectations pushed upon it from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe it still manages to hold its own as a great film to watch with your children, with stunning visuals and the introduction of some depth with new characters you could get to know and care about. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Is a film I could happily sit and watch again.
In closing, I viewed these children's films as an adult with my biased opinions and expectations with only reflections of a childhood I once had, so of course my opinions of these films come with more complaints and criticisms. However I believe it takes great courage and balls to bring a film into existence, particularly to make a film based upon a highly popular and classic children's book series and I applaud all those who contributed to making the three films for their artistic interpretations.
My son simply said when asked if he liked the Narnia Series "It's really good" kids always watch films and see the ideas that the film tries to represent and maybe that's all that matters.