Helmed by “Shrek” co-director Adam Adamson, the first of the seven chronicles, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” has received the full-blown CGI treatment (though thankfully merged with live actors) for wonderful rendition of the Lewis classic. On the heels of the “Lord of the Rings” goldmine, “Chronicles” has already proven to be a big-time box office breadwinner and is certain to spawn six more in the series.
The thinly veiled Christian message has four English children (“The sons and daughters of Adam and Eve”) arriving in the mythical land of Narnia via a wardrobe in a spooky old mansion where they are staying to avoid the London bombing blitz of World War II. Their wardrobe entry into Narnia fulfills a prophesy much to the dismay of the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton), who dumped a 100 yearlong curse of winter without Christmas on the magical land. The four kids are Peter, the oldest and most leader-like (William Moseley); Susan, the maternal (Anna Popplewell); Edmund, the bitter and potentially treacherous (Skandar Keynes); and Lucy, the youngest, cutest and most foolish.
The prophecy leads them to hook-up with Aslan, the Lion (voice of Liam Neeson), a blatant Christ figure (complete with crucifixion and Second Coming), who saves the day in a big Armageddon battle. But, along the way, the kids have multiple adventures and meet all sorts of amazing creatures out of Greek and Biblical lore. Of course, the magic is now made easy because of computers, something that would have even tested Lewis’s imagination.
Go see “The Chronicles of Narnia,” unless the Christian subtext upsets you... in which case stick with “Lord of the Rings.”