Extended Edition Review by GlumPuddle

Posted December 9, 2006 11:56 am by Glumpuddle

Extended Edition

Extended Edition

Today, December 9, is the one-year anniversary of the release of the The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. During the past year, the film has been dissected and analyzed by thousands of Narniawebbers. This Tuesday (Dec. 12), the 4-Disc Extended Edition will offer us even more of the film to discuss. I am pleased to give you the most detailed review you will find on the web.

The release of this edition has caused some raised eyebrows among Narniawebbers, and many are wondering if this new set is worth purchasing. I am hoping that this review will help you make that decision. But understand that this review is coming from a true Narnia geek.

In other words, spoiler alert! I will first give you a description of the extended scenes, and then my thoughts on them. I have also timed each new moment, and will tell you how long they are and approximately where they occur in the film.

PACKAGING: The cover is reflective, which is really cool. The set is decorated with images from the film, concept art, and a map of Narnia.

— DISC 1 —

The main menu screen is just like the original menus, only instead of the Czech Republic helicopter footage, it shows Aslan’s camp. You have the option of watching the film with a brief introduction by Director Andrew Adamson. He says: “Hi, I’m Andrew Adamson and I want to welcome you to the extended cut of ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’ This version of the film will take you back to Narnia to see more of the places, the characters, and the action than you’ve seen before. Weather this is your first time to Narnia or you’re revisiting a favorite place, I hope you enjoy ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ as you’ve never seen it before.

The film is about 8 minutes longer now. Here are the added moments:

New Disney Logo (31 seconds, 0:03 mark)

DESCRIPTION: There is a new Walt Disney Pictures logo at the beginning that shows Cinderella’s castle with the music from “When You Wish Upon a Star.”

MY THOUGHTS: The old logo went along with the opening scene much better.

Train Station (39 seconds, 3:37 mark)

DESCRIPTION: The opening wide shot of this scene is a bit longer. After asking Lucy if she is warm enough, Mrs. Pevensie hugs Lucy and then hands a slip of paper to Susan. After Edmund looks at the Help the Children poster, he says “The country is boring.” Susan’s reply is “Boring is safe, Edmund.” As the Pevensie children depart, there are 10 brief new shots, including a man blowing a whistle, a kid examining a label, an old woman talking to a little boy, a Mrs. Pevensie POV shot of kids boarding the train, kids and adults waving, and a shot of Mrs. Pevensie waving and clearly holding back tears. All together, these 10 brief shots total 25 seconds.

MY THOUGHTS: It’s definitely nice that Mrs. Pevensie hugs Lucy in this cut. And the moment where she hands Susan the slip of paper shows that Susan, as well as Peter, has a big responsibility.

Lucy’s Toy Dog (30 seconds, 7:10 mark)

DESCRIPTION: During the opening credits, after the “William Moseley/Anna Popplewell” text, there is a new scene that starts with Lucy looking at a map. She shows a toy dog to Edmund and makes it squeak. Edmund reluctantly takes it and then hands it to another boy on the train. He smiles at Lucy and she smiles back.

MY THOUGHTS: This scene implied to me that Edmund only recently started to “go wrong” (as the book puts it). I think this is consistent with the book, and it says something about Edmund’s character. I like it. However, adding this moment forced them to remix the music a little. It doesn’t fit quite as well.

Lucy offers Edmund her teddy bear

Lucy offers Edmund her teddy bear

New Wardrobe Shot (11 seconds, 39:38 mark)

DESCRIPTION: After Professor Kirke says “you might just try acting like one,” we cut to a new shot of the wardrobe. The camera pans to the window where we see the Pevensies outside playing Cricket.

MY THOUGHTS: Even though the cut doesn’t flow as well as before, I think this is a more appropriate way to open the scene. It almost feels like the wardrobe is waiting for them.

Running from Macready (41 seconds, 40:38 mark)

DESCRIPTION: The scene where the Pevensies are “chased” into Narnia has been extended. We get to see more of the house. There is also a new moment where Peter smiles and says “she’s faster than she looks!”

MY THOUGHTS: Even though I objected to how they changed the reason they are running, this was one of my favorite scenes in theaters. In the extended cut, I really enjoyed getting to see more of the house. But, I have mixed feelings on when Peter says “she’s faster than she looks.” If they had done this scene like the book where Macready is giving a tour, it would make sense for them to be joking a little. But in the film, they are trying to avoid getting caught for breaking the window. So, that part didn’t seem appropriate. But, this extended scene emphasizes the feeling of being “chased” into Narnia, and I think it’s more in the spirit of the book.

The Pevensies run

The Pevensies run

Exploring Narnia (30 seconds, 44:06 mark)

DESCRIPTION: The Pevensies’ journey from the lamp-post to Tumnus’ cave has been extended. There are more close-ups of them walking through the snow, and a moment where Susan trips and then starts making a snow angel.

MY THOUGHTS: Most of these shots are great. There is a Czech Republic shot at the end that I especially like. And, it’s nice to see them reacting to this new world a little more. The only downside is that it kinda messed up one of my favorite musical moments, because they had to remix the music to accommodate the new shots.

Following Mr. Beaver (30 seconds, 49:24 mark)

DESCRIPTION: There are more shots of the Pevensies following Mr. Beaver, including a moment where Lucy gives Peter a nervous look.

MY THOUGHTS: These new shots are an improvement. I liked Lucy’s nervous look because it serves as a reminder that they are following a strange creature into a strange world. It also emphasized the fact that they were slowly getting further and further from home.

Frozen Fish (27 seconds, 50:10 mark)

DESCRIPTION: When they reach the house, Peter says “Hey look out, it’s icy there.” Then Mr. Beaver says “And here we are then. We best be inside before dark.” And of course, we see the frozen fish moment mentioned on the kids audio commentary. Lucy notices something, and bends down to wipe away some snow, revealing a fish frozen in the ice.

MY THOUGHTS: One of the things I had been looking forward to is seeing the river frozen as if it had been moving when it froze (as Lewis describes). Sadly, this image was not in theaters or this extended cut. But they at least acknowledge it here when Lucy sees a frozen fish. I’m glad to see this scene in the film, even though the new shot of Lucy was clearly shot against a green-screen.

Crossing the Courtyard (39 seconds,56:15 mark)

DESCRIPTION: It takes Edmund a little longer to cross the Witch’s courtyard of statues. There are new shots of a rhino, dwarfs, and a centaur that startles Edmund. This appears to be the same stone centaur that we see later in the movie just after Oreius is turned into stone.

MY THOUGHTS: This was one of my favorite scenes in the book and the film. And it’s also one of the biggest improvements in the extended cut. It’s good to show more variety of creatures turned into stone, and the moment where the stone centaur startles Edmund makes the scene a little creepier.

Searching the Beavers’ House (17 seconds, 1:01:27 mark)

DESCRIPTION: There is one very brief new shot of the wolves running towards the Beavers’ home (just before Susan asks if they’ll need jam).Then, we really get to see the wolves tearing apart the interior of the Beavers’ home. We see wolves running up steps, tearing apart a rug, and searching cupboards.

MY THOUGHTS: This scene is a little more powerful now, because we actually see the wolves tearing apart the house, instead of just hearing the Witch say it later.

The Arrival of Spring (33 seconds, 1:21:37)

DESCRIPTION: There are four new beautiful shots showing the arrival of spring. One of these shots also shows the Stone Table in the background. (I was confused about this until I remembered that, in the movie, Aslan’s camp is not at the Stone Table as it is in the book)

MY THOUGHTS: This is, without a doubt, the biggest improvement in the extended cut! In my opinion, this scene alone makes this set worth buying (but remember, I’m a total Narnia geek)! It’s more in the spirit of the book, and it makes the transition from winter to spring a more memorable moment in the film. And the shots themselves are simply beautiful. My heart soared during these shots.

Target Practice (25 seconds, 1:36:08 mark)

DESCRIPTION: This scene begins with two new wide shots. When Susan is getting in some practice with her bow, she shoots two arrows instead of one. Her second shot is closer to the bull’s-eye than the first. Also, there is one new shot of Peter and Edmund riding in, and their “fight” is a few shots longer.

MY THOUGHTS: This addition is good because it shows that Susan is improving. She gets a little closer to the target on her second try. But, the adjusted music is a bit awkward.

Battle Above Beruna (33 seconds, 1:56:11 mark)

DESCRIPTION: As the battle begins, the Witch nods to some bat-like creatures (Incubi?) and they leap into the sky and begin attacking the Gryphons.

MY THOUGHTS: The shots of the bat-creatures taking off are a little rough. But the new shots of the Gryphons being attacked in the air are very impressive. The new moments are exciting and most fans will probably love them. But as a book purist, I feel that the battle was already long enough (I know many fans will disagree with me there).

Extended Armies Collision (3 seconds, 1:58:28 mark)

DESCRIPTION: Shortly after the two armies meet, there is a brand new shot of a minotaur taking out a centaur and a rhino running into a minoboar.

MY THOUGHTS: I like this shot. It gives the moment a little more energy.

Phoenix (31 seconds, 2:01:23 mark)

DESCRIPTION: The Phoenix gets a little more screen time. The Witch’s dwarfs shoot arrows at the phoenix and it dodges them. Then, one of the bat creatures leaps into the air and flies towards the Phoenix. Seeing this, Peter grabs a spear out of the ground and throws it at the bat creature, killing it. After throwing the spear, Peter kills a boggle archer and two minotaurs.

MY THOUGHTS: The effects are rough during most of this scene and Peter looks awkward as he rides while holding the spear. But, I know that lots of fans liked the Phoenix, so most should enjoy this extended scene.

Burning Creatures (7 seconds, 2:02:04 mark)

DESCRIPTION: After the Phoenix sets the ground on fire, there are two new shots of the Witch’s army burning and one wide shot showing that the fire has blocked their way. These shots were removed from the theatrical cut to avoid a PG-13 rating.

MY THOUGHTS: These shots look like they would be breathtaking if they were finished. But they look pretty rough.

Oreius vs. Otmin (13 seconds, 2:04:04 mark)

DESCRIPTION: The moment where the Ankle-slicers take out the Rhino has been slightly altered. It appears that they zoomed in on the ankle-slicers so we could get a better look at them (it doesn’t seem to be a new shot. Just a closer view of an old shot). And, Oreius has more trouble killing Otmin. Otmin slams Oreius into a rock, almost making him stumble. Oreius returns the favor by trying to knock Otmin off by slamming him into another rock. Oreius takes a few more swings. Then one of his swords flies up into the air. He catches it and stabs Otmin.

MY THOUGHTS: The VFX in this scene were quite good. And this scene has a lot more speed and energy now. I liked it.

Gryphon Feet (3 seconds, 2:06:31 mark)

DESCRIPTION: As the two Gryphons fly towards the Witch, there is one new brief shot showing the Witch and a Gryphon’s feet.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a cool shot.

Edmund Pushing Ginarrbrik (10 seconds, 2:07:29 mark)

DESCRIPTION: As Edmund is running to save Peter, he takes a moment to take care of the Witch’s dwarf. Ginarrbrik is about to kill a Narnian dwarf when Edmund takes a swipe at his feet throwing him off the cliff. Ginarrbrik hits the ground hard, and we see that his beard has also been cut off.

MY THOUGHTS: It’s nice to actually see why Ginarrbrik seemed to be limping before Susan shot him later. But, this scene isn’t cut together too well. And having Ginarrbrik get his beard chopped off was rather strange.

DISC 1 EXTRAS: There are no new extras on Disc 1. The audio commentaries are not new, as some had hoped. If you already own the original DVD, you have heard them. The odd thing is the way they have tried to re-edit the commentaries to fit the extended film. Most of the time, it’s fine. But there are some moments where the things the commentators are saying do not make sense with what’s happening in the film. All the other extras on this disc were also on the original DVD release: “The Bloopers of Narnia” and the “Narnia Fun Facts” pop-up feature.

— DISC 2 —

There are no new extras on Disc 2. This disc was included with the 2-disc Collectors Edition.

— DISC 3 —

CS LEWIS – DREAMER OF NARNIA (1:15:38): One of the things I missed most when I watched the extras on the Collector’s Edition was a long documentary about the creator of Narnia, “Jack” Lewis. So, I was very excited when I heard that there would be an entire disc devoted to Lewis included with the Extended Edition. What I saw surprised me. It’s not just a documentary about Lewis’ life. There’s something very different about it. It was kind of like watching a movie about his life with an Audio Commentary turned on. Much of it is an actor playing CS Lewis reciting voiceover about his experiences. That was a little weird, but I got used to it. The interviews with scholars and friends were quite interesting. I was also pleased that Douglas Gresham (Lewis’ stepson/film co-producer) pops up several times. I had really wanted interviews with him on the Collector’s Edition, so I was glad to see them here.

The way the Narnia stories are compared to Lewis’ life throughout the feature was pretty well done. And, they don’t discuss just the obvious similarities like Digory’s dying mother in “The Magician’s Nephew.” They go deeper than that and use other Chronicles as examples.

One of the most unique things about this feature is the way Pauline Baynes’ classic illustrations are used. They have actually made them move and come alive. As a huge Baynes fan, I rather enjoyed most of these. They were quite skillfully done. But, I suspect the motivation behind them was to make the feature more entertaining for children.

If you’re just a casual fan of the Narnia books or movie, you probably won’t care for Disc 3. But, I’m interested in both Narnia and its author, so I found it quite interesting.

— DISC 4 —

VISUALIZING THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE (2:20:12 w/credits): This documentary was the biggest surprise in the whole set. It’s a different kind of behind-the-scenes documentary than I have ever seen. It’s kind of like an Audio Commentary mixed with a pop-up feature. Almost the entire feature is 2 or 3 split screens. One of these screens is always showing the movie (it shows the whole movie from beginning to end). Another screen is showing members of the cast and crew being interviewed. The third (and usually the largest) screen shows various behind-the-scenes shots and artwork. Here is an example:

Screencap

Screencap

In the image above, the bottom screen is the movie. The screen on the right is Tilda Swinton discussing how challenging it was to find the right approach to this scene. The largest screen is showing behind-the-scenes footage.

As you watch the movie, the cast and crew share stories and talk about the scene being shown. At first, I found the split screens distracting. But once I got used to it, I wondered why no one has thought of this before. If you like audio commentaries, you will love this feature! The fact that it walks you though the entire movie ensures that each and every scene is discussed.

I expect that many fans will find the split screens very distracting. But as someone interested in both Narnia and filmmaking, I had a blast with it, and I hope other studios try something like this in the future.

ANATOMY OF A SCENE – BEHIND THE BATTLE (7:46): This feature is very similar to the documentaries found on Disc 2. Crew members such as Andrew Adamson, Mark Johnson, and Dean Wright discuss how challenging it was to visualize and shoot the Battle of Beruna. When you see just how complex the shoot was, it makes you marvel that the scene turned out as well as it did. One interesting tidbit is that at the end, instead of “For Narnia and for Aslan,” William Moseley shouts “They will not take Narnia!” If you liked the documentaries on Disc 2 of the Collector’s Edition, you will like this feature. I enjoyed it.

THE ART OF NARNIA: I’ve never seen conceptual art quite like this. It’s more stylized than usual. If you’ve been visiting NarniaWeb for a couple years, you’ve probably already seen some of these images. I liked looking at the marquettes. Once again, these images might not be of much interest to a casual fan, but as a Narnia geek, I enjoyed them.

BOOKENDS:
The Gift Set includes two highly detailed bookends of Lucy and Tumnus. I really like these, especially since this is my favorite scene. I especially like the detail in the wardrobe carvings (which tell the story of The Magician’s Nehew)

EE Gift Set Bookends: Lucy

EE Gift Set Bookends: Lucy

EE Gift Set Bookends: Tumnus

EE Gift Set Bookends: Tumnus

— OVERALL —

The extended film is not up to the standard we’ve seen in other special edition DVDs recently. The new scenes are not seamlessly integrated back into the movie, and the new visual effects shots are also not quite up to the same level as the rest of the film. The extended scenes also forced them to change some of my favorite musical moments. But, I personally am proud to own this set because of the extended arrival of spring. To me, that scene alone made this set worth it.

The extras were unique and quite enjoyable. I appreciate the fact that Disney decided to try something totally different here. I plan on watching these extras again very soon.

If you are just a casual fan of the books or movie, this set probably isn’t for you. This set is for Narnia geeks like me. If you are one of the fans who decided to wait for the Extended Edition and not buy the original DVD, I recommended sticking to that plan and buying this new set over the old one. I am glad to have it on my shelf. From now on, when I decide to watch “The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe,” I will probably choose the extended cut.

If you read my review and know you’d like to get the Extended Edition, click here to pre-order it.

If you’re still unsure, here are more reviews:
Counting Down
Cinema Blend
DVD Talk