Director (and co-screenwriter) Andrew Adamson, a veteran of the Shrek franchise, knows his way around a fantasy-based adventure story, and he wisely keeps the story moving when it could easily become bogged down and tiresome. Narnia is, of course, a Christian allegory and the symbology is definitely there (as it should be, otherwise it wouldn't be the story Lewis wrote), but audiences arent knocked over the head with it, and in the hands of another director it could easily have become pedantic. The focus is squarely on the children and their adventures. The four young actors are respectable in their roles, especially considering the size of the project put on their shoulders, but it's the young Georgie Henley as the curious Lucy who stands out. This isn't a film that wildly succeeds, and in the long run it won't have the same impact as the Harry Potter franchise, but it is well done, and kids will get swept up in the adventure. Note: Narnia does contain battle scenes that some parents may consider too violent for younger children. --Dan Vancini
Otherwise - buy it, watch it, meditate on it. A timeless treasure for all ages.
And with the excellent art direction and cinematography, you can't help but be swept away by the verisimilitude of the whole picture.
The performances are superb, with the possible exceptions of Peter and Edmund: they are easily overshadowed by Susan and Lucy. The marked difference between them draws attention to the boy's performances and how they could have been better.
Thematically, the film adheres to the original C.S.Lewis book and uses many of the same passages and dialogue. For filmic purposes, however, fresh scenes with scintillating dialogue were scripted into the storyline.
At once awe-inspiring, thoughtful, action-packed, frightening and moving, this first installment of The Chronicles of Narnia is an ambitious work of art that is pure magic: I know that C.S. Lewis would have approved!