The Chronicles of Narnia film series adapts the plot of the books by C. S. Lewis into seven theatrical films. Currently, three of them have been released, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 2005, Prince Caspian in 2008, and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 2010. Its central cast includes William Moseley as Peter Pevensie, Anna Popplewell as Susan, Skandar Keynes as Edmund, Georgie Henley as Lucy, and Liam Neeson as Aslan.Production is handled by Walden Media. Financing and distribution for the films were originally done by Disney, but after the second film the rights were given to 20th Century Fox, who is expected to produce the remaining films.
Adaptation Dye-Job: In the book, Peter has dark hair, while Edmund and Caspian are blondish; however, in the movie, the roles are reversed, Peter being fair-haired, while Edmund and Caspian have dark, almost black hair. Lucy is also stated several times to have blonde hair in the books; Georgie Henley has light brown, somewhat auburn hair. The only one who kept her original hair color is Susan.
Adaptation Expansion: Many scenes that take only a paragraph or two in the books are greatly elaborated. Quite nicely, actually, especially for the first film. A good example is the final battle, which is barely covered in the book. There, the narration follows Susan, Lucy, and Aslan, who don't arrive until the very end of the battle. Also, the scenes of the Blitz are shown, which were probably necessary because children today often don't learn about World War II in school until they're too old (or think they're too old) for films like this.
There is expansion in the second one as well. Susan's inability to let go of Narnia, Peter's problems with becoming a kid again, Edmund's quiet strength and heroism and Caspian's belief in his own inability to be a good king are shown. Also, they showed how the Pevensies were not normal children, but rather people with an adult's experience and wisdom. The character development from the first movie is especially shown with Susan and Edmund.
The expansion for the third one was also very well done as well, with little threads added showing Caspian and Edmund's brotherly friendship, Eustace and Reepicheep's bond, the inner struggles that Caspian, Edmund, and Lucy were all going through and a tiny, humorous one of Edmund being a bit of a thorn in Drinian's side. Also, seeing how Caspian was devastated to lose the Pevensie's a second time as they had become family to him was a wonderful expansion from the book.
Adaptation Explanation Extrication: In the books, after the kids became kings and queens of Narnia, the narration tells how they ruled successfully for years and years and were given nicknames: King Peter The Magnificent, Queen Susan the Gentle, King Edmund the Just, Queen Lucy the Valiant. In The Film of the Book, they're crowned with these names while still kids just after winning their victory, which makes them seem slightly ridiculous and over-the-top — especially in the case of Edmund, whose main contribution to the plot was betraying his siblings to the White Witch before he got better. Although it wasAslan who gave them the titles, so one could argue that he'd already know stuff like that.
It's also explained in the book that the White Witch's Turkish Delight has some mind control powers over whoever eats it, and shown that Edmund only let her get close to him out of fear, making Edmund's betrayal over a supply of candy seem far less petty.
Adaptational Badass: The River God in Prince Caspian. Goes from a minor spirit asking Aslan to free him from the Telmarine bridge to a powerful water deity that drowns the Telmarine army and swallows Lord Sopespian.
Susan in the second movie. She was given the moniker "The Gentle" for a reason. Suddenly, she becomes a Xena wannabe killing the enemies with arrows just by throwing them and holding off a group of soldiers alone with her bow and quiver of arrows.
Miraz. In the book, he was a traditional evil yet cowardly monarch, whereas in the film he is cold-blooded, calculating, and seems unafraid of anything.
Always Chaotic Evil: Subverted twice. In the first film, the fox is initially a shady character and the protagonists don't know if they can trust him, but he ultimately turns out to be good in the end. Likewise, minotaurs in the first film are all allied with the White Witch, but in the second film have joined the Narnians, one even performing a Heroic Sacrifice so his companions can escape.
Badass: Tons of people in Prince Caspian. Notable examples are Miraz, whose duelling skills are shown to be more than a match for Peter's; Susan, whose archery skills have become impeccable; and Edmund, who has more awesome moments than Peter and Caspian combined... and less dialogue than either. It's as if he spent those 1,300 Narnian years training for this movie.
All the royals in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Caspian and Edmund are both deadly swordsmen, and Lucy wields both a sword and Susan's bow and arrows with a lot of skill.
Badass Adorable: Lucy. The entire fleeing Telmarine army stops dead in their tracks when they see a tiny girl, standing alone on their only escape route across the bridge, smiling sweetly at them. And this is before Aslan joins her.
Reepicheep. Only Lucy is actually allowed to hug him if she asks really nicely.
Battle Trophy: In the final battle of the first film, Jadis wears a headdress made of Aslan's mane.
Bigger Bad: The Lady of the Green Kirtle in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, since Word of God confirms she's the one behind the green mist.
Bittersweet Ending: The ending of Prince Caspian. As well as the ending of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It's implied that Caspian was never really able to let go of the Pevensies. His cabin on the ship, as seen at the beginning, was basically a shrine to all of them. He had even saved Edmund's torch (flashlight for American readers).
This fits in quite well with the books where Caspian is fascinated with the world the Pevensies come from and always had a secret desire to go there the same way they visit Narnia.
There's also the Eustace factor. Yeah, he's learned to be a brave fighter, but he also has to say goodbye to Reepicheep, the one who taught him to overcome his fears and who was kind to him when he was a dragon.
The Blitz: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe opens with a dramatic sequence depicting the bombing of central London by the German Luftwaffe, and the Pevensie family making a dash for their Anderson shelter. For a present-day audience, the scene drives home how truly terrifying the bombings must have been, whilst serving as the reason for the children's evacuation to the countryside.
Bloodless Carnage: Sort of. The battles themselves depict no blood, but when an important character is wounded and given special focus, blood can be expected to be in the scene.
Broken Glass Penalty: In the first movie, Edmund breaks a window and the children's attempt to hide is what sends them into Narnia.
Call My Name: Edmund and Lucy constantly call each other's name in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when they're separated from each other, talking to each other or if they're in danger.
Canon Foreigner: Oreius and Otmin from the first film, Asterius from the second, and Tavros and Gael from the third, just to name a few.
Character Development: All of the main characters get some. Susan, Edmund and Caspian have the most. Lucy gets a little between the 2nd and 3rd movies. Peter gets some for the worse in Prince Caspian and Eustace gets a lot in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
In the same film, as in the corresponding book, the Stone Knife from the first film/book gets a brief appearance and mention. Probably confusing for anyone who hasn't either read the books or got a very good visual memory, since it's never named as such in the first film.
Crossdresser: Believe it or not, Anna Popplewell. According to the official movie companion, she volunteered as a last-minute double for Skandar Keynes (who had already called it a day) in one shot (which happened to be of Edmund's legs as he goes through the wardrobe).
Dream Within a Dream: Subverted in the first movie- the characters think their memory of a familiar place is from a dream within a dream, but it turns out to be from where they originally came from in the real world. Played straight in the third movie, where Lucy is having a dream, wakes up from it to have Aslan talk to her, then wakes up from this one again into the real world.
Mr. Fanservice: The main three actors in the first two films — William Moseley (Peter), Skandar Keynes (Edmund) and Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian). Keynes in particular grows up nicely.
Evil Is Hammy: Sergio Castellitto obviously enjoys his role as Miraz. Tilda Swinton has her moments, too, which doesn't make her acting less awesome.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Telmarine culture is stylized to resemble Golden Age Spain. Much like in the book, Hand Waved by explaining that Telmar was founded by Earth pirates who accidentally found their way to Narnia. Likewise, Narnia itself has "Merry Old England" vibes.
Fauns and Satyrs: Mr. Tumnus. He starts out trying to kidnap Lucy, but later becomes her friend.
Fire-Forged Friends: Reepicheep with Eustace, once the former takes him under his wing and especially once the latter has become a dragon.
Foe-Tossing Charge: When Oreius goes after the White Witch in the big battle scene, he has a rhino come and run interference for him, which let's face it is hard to improve on if you're only allowed one ally.
Foreshadowing: "May your wisdom grace us until the stars fall from the heavens."
That's brilliant! Because Aslan said that to the four original Pevensies and then in Dawn Treader there is actually a star that comes down from the heavens (she goes back up again, but still) and that's the last time Edmund and Lucy come to Narnia. Alive, anyway. (An additional point of note is that in the books, all the stars do fall from the heavens in The Last Battle during the end of the world.)
Another example from the first movie is the lamp-post having tree roots as its base. There is also the wardrobe, which features, among other things, a ruined city, a forest with many pools, and two women sitting on opposing sides of the wardrobe.
Susan's slightly melancholy agreement in Prince Caspian that she's happy to be in Narnia "while it lasts" foreshadows her being told at the end of the film that she can't return. Arguably also her absence in The Last Battle.
Good Animals, Evil Animals: The armies of Aslan and the Witch are pretty much divided among these lines. In the second movie, however, nearly all of the non-humans of Narnia (minus a Hag, Werewolf, and Black Dwarf) fight together, and a minotaur sacrifices himself to save the monarchs.
Heel-Face Turn: Pretty much all the minotaurs from Prince Caspian onward, to the point where there are at least two as crewmen on the Dawn Treader in the third movie.
Minotaurs have hands, wolves don't. There's not a lot of useful things to do on a ship if you don't have opposable thumbs.
Improbable Use of a Weapon: In Prince Caspian during the castle raid, Susan throwing an arrow at a soldier and having it sink in and kill him.
Lady of War: Queen Susan with her long skirts, flowing hair and bow and arrows is the very definition of this.
Made of Iron: Honourable mention goes to Asterius, the minotaur who led the Foe-Tossing Charge into the castle in Prince Caspian, and held up the portcullis while getting shot several times as the others escaped.
Mask Power: The Telmarines now sport Badass baroque metal masks with fearsome visages of bearded Conquistadors on them.
In the film of Prince Caspian, Edmund gets to throw a line back at Peter (with a little Deadpan Snark for good measure):
"I had it sorted."
Money, Dear Boy: Following the 2010 release of the film version of Voyage of the Dawn Treader, FOX is planning to film The Magician's Nephew next instead of The Silver Chair, after noticing that the films have so far grossed back amounts that roughly correspond to the popularity of the book involved - and The Magician's Nephew is usually considered the second most-popular in the Narnia series.
Not Even Bothering with the Accent: If Caspian and his sailors are any indication, the whole Telmarine race apparently drops their vaguely-Spanish accents some time between Prince Caspian and The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader. Perhaps he took on an English accent so the native Narnians were more comfortable with him?
Only the Worthy May Pass: From the Lone Islands on, King Caspian, the Pevensies and Eustace are subjected to various temptations that would cause them to either abandon or die in their quest.
Onrushing Army: This is apparently how military advances are done in Narnia. Except in Prince Caspian the titular prince and the Pevensies use stealth and surprise to try and defeat Miraz with the Raid on the Castle.
Ordinary High-School Student: Peter had a hard time becoming one again, after being High King. All of the Pevensies had a hard time of this.
Our Gryphons Are Different: The movies have classical griffins as part of Aslan's army — which for some reason have beards on their lower jaws and feathers at the end of their lions' tails.
Pragmatic Adaptation: Particularly Dawn Treader, which takes an almost completely episodic story and gives it a strong ongoing plot thread in the green mist that has to be stopped. And it even becomes somewhat of a Sequel Hook since Word of God says the green mist was created by the Lady of the Green Kirtle as her first attempt on the Caspian family.
And even the book's religious subtext organizes them as this, since Peter and Lucy are meant to represent the better Apostles, Peter being named High King, representing the Apostle Peter, who in reality is the first Leader of the Christian church after Christ ascended, and Lucy, who represents Saint John, who had the most faith in Jesus, just like Lucy has in Aslan. On the other side, Edmund represents Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus for silver, just like Edmund betrays Aslan for Turkish Delight, and Susan, who represents "Doubting Thomas", because she loses her faith completely in Aslan and Narnia, never reaching Aslan's Country (Heaven).
The Rest Shall Pass: Susan to Lucy in Prince Caspian, when she stays behind to hold off the pursuing soldiers so that Lucy can find Aslan in time.
Studio To The Rescue: After Disney was disappointed with Prince Caspian not performing quite as well as Wardrobe they decided to pass their option to release The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader due to budget disputes, at which point Fox promptly offered to pick up the contract. Some see this as a What an Idiot move for Disney, as Prince Caspian is generally regarded as one of the least popular books in the series, while Dawn Treader is the most.
Of course, Dawn Treader went to gross less than even Prince Caspian, so maybe Disney did the smart thing after all. Now, with Walden Media's contract with the Lewis Estate having expired, the development of the fourth movie is in indefinite hiatus.
Sword of Plot Advancement: The seven swords of the seven Lords of Narnia, which must be placed on Aslan's Table to put an end to the evil mist plaguing the area.
Talking with Signs: I AM EUSTACE "written" on the burning brush that Edmund sees from being carried in the dragon's claws in Dawn Treader.
Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In the first movie, Susan is seen doing some target practice with her bow and arrow. She hits the ring just around the bull’s-eye. Then Lucy throws her knife at the target and hits dead centre.
Urban Legends: Somehow, the idea that Evanescence had written material for the soundtrack of the first film, but had been declined as being "too epic," spread far and wide until Amy Lee herself finally declared it was all bogus.
Was Once a Man: The dragon the crew of the Dawn Treader encounters on the island of enchanted gold. Better known to them as Eustace Scrubb. But Eustace himself encounters no dragon, unlike in the book.
White Stallion: Peter rides one— a unicorn at that— at the battle of Beruna. It's the only white equine seen on the battlefield.
Xenafication: Susan in Prince Caspian. Justified in that she had been practicing her archery skills for 15 years, plus another year on Earth, just like her siblings.