Granted, I had high expectations. I read C.S. Lewis' Narnia books to pieces as a kid and had already seen the movie in my head a thousand times. And I never thought the film version (from Shrek director Andrew Adamson) of Lewis' series would top the books. But I didn't expect it to be this bad. This is the emotional equivalent of having someone use your blankie as a diaper or sodomize your imaginary childhood friend.
If you're reading this you probably know the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in Lewis' epic tale: Four English siblings, Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter, are sitting out World War II in the country mansion of a reclusive professor. A game of hide-and-seek leads Lucy (Georgie Henley) into a wardrobe that opens into the magical land of Narnia. The movie seemingly takes its time getting there (about 50 years if you're a 9-year-old kid), but eventually Lucy meets the adorable faun Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy). Then Edmund (Skandar Keynes) screws everything up, and the others have to rescue him from the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton). Lucky for them, the good king Aslan (Jesus/Liam Neeson) is back in town and on their side.
The first of many problems with Narnia is that three of the four kids are so irritating you wouldn't mind seeing them frozen into lawn ornaments with the rest of the queen's enemies. Only Lucy is bearable. Then there's the overwrought soundtrack, which never gives you a chance to form an emotion of your own. If you judged by the music, you'd think every bickering match and tearful hug the kids endure was a miraculous recovery from a terminal illness.
Other problems include the animated talking beasts, some of which look all right, but others are pathetically flimsy screen flickers; it's revealing that once their purpose is served they actually vanish into blurry nothings mid-battle. Speaking of battle, the fight scenes are wimpy and horribly paced. Most of the visual effects are special in the sense of "Kmart" special. Someone chopped out random chunks of film instead of editing. And then there's the whole Christian thing. Everyone knows Lewis meant to write a Biblical allegory with Aslan as the messiah. You could ignore it while reading the books, but the movie makes the Christian element so obvious that you wonder if it was partially funded by Focus on the Family.
If you like your kids—you don't even have to love them—don't take them to see The Chronicles of Narnia; lock them in their rooms and make them read the books instead. And when it's movie time, rent a Peter Jackson film.
Opens Friday, Dec. 9. Pioneer Place, St. Johns Twin, Lloyd Cinema, Century Eastport, Division Street, Oak Grove, Cedar Hills, Cornelius, Evergreen, Lake Twin, Movies on TV, Sandy, Tigard, Wilsonville, Cinema 99, Cinetopia, City Center, Vancouver Plaza