I read the book.
But that was a very, very long time ago.
Believe it or not, if you will allow me to stand on my soapbox for a moment, I believe I first read it while attending a public elementary school. Can The Chronicles of Narnia be found in a public elemetary school library now a days? As a child I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe believing it to be just another fantasy adventure, or fairy-tale, I didn't see --nor did I really care to look-- the book as a religious allegory. Although Christianity may have influenced C.S. Lewis' story, I really don't think he intended it be this season's The Passion of the Christ as some evangelicals and media-yahoos (no offense to the search-engine) have classified it. These claims have wrongfully scared away potential viewers (shame on you, Tom Brazelton ). Take it as an adventure movie ala The Lord of the Rings but shorter, and you'll enjoy it just fine.
At the height of the blitz on London during World War II, the Pevensie children are sent into the country for safety. They are housed in the mansion of a reclusive professor where, during a game of hide and seek on a rainy day, Lucy Pevensie (the youngest child) discovers a wardrobe that is also a porthole into the enchanted land of Narnia. After some moments of disbelief, her brothers and sisters eventually enter the wardrobe themselves and into Narnia.
For a thousand years, Narnia has been under the enchanted-thrall of the White Witch; a thousand years of winter, but no Christmas. But prophecy claims that two sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve will free Narnia from the White Witch's icy-grip, and the Pevensie children are hurtled toward their destiny before they even realize they have one. Unfortuantely, Edmund Pevensie's betrayal of his family could put them all into jeopardy.
The special-effects in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe are amazing! It has only been a handful of years since the groundbreaking fur on Monsters, Inc's Sully, yet the fur on digital-creatures like Aslan, the White Witch's wolves, and the Beaver family are now amazingly life-like. There are moments where I couldn't tell if they were using real animals or if it was all digital.
The best and most amazing part of the movie is the battle scene between Good and Evil. The White Witch (played deliciously-evil by Tilda Swinton), drapped in a mantle of Aslan's shorn mane, leading her mythical minions against the army gathered by Aslan and lead by Peter Pevensie (played by newly-minted fan-girl heart-throb William Moseley). This battle is a far superior feast for the eyes than any of the conflicts featured in any of the LOTR movies. The last time anyone saw a centaur charge into battle was probably in an old Xena: Warrior Princess episode and was far less convincing than mythical creatures rushing toward battle in this movie. The image that popped my eyes when I first saw the trailer was that of a charging minotaur, and it is no less exciting when centaurs, gryphons, dwarfs, giants, satyrs, fauns, polar bears, and unicorns are added into the mix. Did anyone else move to the edge of their seat like I did when the cheetahs broke away from the Good Army, eager to clash with Evil?
As the battle draws on, Jadis and Peter come face to face in a dazzling sword fight that gives you moments of hope for Peter, but also complete dread due to the expression of determination and confidence on the White Witch's face that she will kill the boy.
There is no doubt in my mind that this was one of the top five movies of 2005, well deserving of an A.