The Chronicles of Narnia, the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Once you enter this Wardrobe, time stands still. Just like the children in C.S. Lewis' tale, as you push through the opening minutes of this incredible film and get lost in the magic kingdom of Narnia, you'll leave all thoughts and cares of the real world behind.
Finding Narnia was an accident for the Pevensie youngsters. Relocated to the large country home of a complete stranger to avoid the dangers of the WWII bombing raids on the cities of Great Britian, Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmond (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) were really just trying to amuse themselves with a simple game of hide and seek. Instead they discovered, while scrambling for cover, the antique wardrobe housed in a spare room is really a doorway into another place in time and space.
Although it at first appears like a winter wonderland, the kids soon learn danger is lurking all around them. Frozen under a wicked enchantment from the White Witch (Tilda Swinton), the inhabitants live either in mortal dread of the self-appointed Queen, or as faithful servants to her evil desires. Regardless of loyalty, the arrival of the Pevensies looks like the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy foretelling her doom at the hands of four humans who would come to assist Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson), the rightful ruler. Consequently, while one group heralds the siblings' coming, the other plots their demise.
Whether by coincidence or design, Peter and Susan feel it would be most prudent to curtail their visit, and just head home. However that plan is complicated by Lucy's affection for the endangered creatures and Edmond's succumbing to the spellbinding promises of the White Witch. But after they have met Aslan, and come to understand what the great lion is willing to do to free those oppressed by the cold-hearted tyrant, the children are ready to champion the cause of Narnia.
Following the storyline of the popular book, with only a little tweaking to pick up the pace, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is a fitting tribute to the spirit of the original. As the epic battle of good versus evil unfolds, there are moments of violent confrontation. These are depicted with realistic tension, but without blood or gore. Other moments of peril may also have little ones holding tight to their parent's fingers, yet they are never truly terrifying. Rather, they help the siblings learn to leave their squabbling behind, and work together to overcome obstacles. As well, through a messiah-like allegory, they come to understand and appreciate the power of love and sacrifice.
Spectacular performances from a nearly unknown cast of young actors cinches this movie's hold on audiences. Even more amazing is the skillful way in which animal and mythical characters have been presented, with Aslan literally being the king of them all. This talking lion uses his entire body to convey his messages, with the final effect being literally breathtaking. He may very well initiate thought on a new award category: Best performance by a non-human.
Because of the diversity of species in this classic novel, bringing it to life on the screen has always presented a challenge. Fortunately, technology has finally evolved enough to allow Walt Disney Studios to realize Lewis' vivid imagination. Under the expert handling of the creative team they've assembled, the resulting production is so believable, you might suspect the movie theater is another portal into the Land of Narnia.