To attempt to make a movie of one of the most cherished books of the last 100 years is not without its pitfalls. And there are certainly many minor annoyances along the way in "Narnia," the more intense fans of the book will notice. For me, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was not merely a beloved book of my youth, it was practically the first book I picked up and read that I didn't have to. It in many ways started me on the way to a lifelong love of reading and literature. Like many other deep fans of Lewis and the Chronicles, I had some hard and fast convictions on how this story should be portrayed.

It disappointed me that some of the conversations between the children and the mysterious professor who owned the house with the wardrobe, were greatly abbreviated. I can understand that some of this type of material has to make way for the quicker pace of a movie, yet it is in these moments of the book where the great mind of C.S. Lewis shines through. Adding to this concern is Jim Broadbent's rather goofy portrayal of the professor.  Those who see this character in the book as a bit of a Lewis cameo will be frustrated.

Technically the movie suffers a bit from some editing problems early on. After the children arrive at the mansion, but before they all discover Narnia, the film drags a bit. Later in the film it felt like key elements went by a little too fast. The visuals and computer generated characters however are stunning. It is one thing to create computer animated mythical beasts for which the viewer has no true frame of reference (and there are plenty of them in this movie), it is quite another to make realistic looking animals. Yet the talking beavers and wolves and even the great lion himself, were completely lifelike. The climactic final battle was convincing even though 99 percent of the participants were CG characters. It lacked the problematic "video game" feeling that so many CG-heavy movies have.

All in all, this film version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will be considered a success, and it should be. Although it doesn't meet the standard of an "epic" film, it is certainly enjoyable to watch and largely true to original story. Hats off to the film's producers at Walden Media who have shown a movie with Christian themes can reach a high standard of technical and narrative excellence.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: There is a good deal of bickering among the children, much more than in the book.
  • Drugs/Alcohol:  None
  • Sex/Nudity:  None
  • Violence: One restrained character is hit violently in the head. Children in peril throughout most of the movie: Edmund is chased down and threatened by a dwarf with a knife; the children are chased by wolves; two of the children are brutally injured in the battle sequence and although battle violence is somewhat intense for small children, it is completely bloodless. "Stone Table" sequence is particularly intense, with ritualistic elements that will disturb some.