Overall I enjoyed it and wouldn't dream of telling anybody not to see it. It's gorgeous, well-directed, designed, and casted. C.S. Lewis was adamant that The Chronicles of Narnia should never be adapted to screen because he thought they would come out looking silly. Of course, he said that years before the advent of CGI, THX, and Jar-Jar Binks (who (let's be honest) did come out looking silly). The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe lives and breathes. I think this is the movie Lewis feared would be impossible.
The world of Narnia is an incredible achievement, on par with the Middle Earth of LOTR, which blazed a lot of the same trails. Director Andrew Adamson first flexed his effects muscles on Joel Schumacher's Batman films and Toys, all of which are so otherwise flawed that their visual design tends to be sadly overlooked. More recently he directed both Shrek movies. Between these qualifications, Adamson's dominion would appear to be breathtaking, demographic-spanning fantasy. And he is its master.
The casting is good. I don't have a lot to say about the kids, which is more a positive review than it sounds. Liam Neeson turns out to be a fantastic voice actor, and Tilda Swinton (who is finally getting more work in mainstream films) is effectively cold as the White Witch (I didn't see the joke when I first wrote that, incidentally). Jim Broadbent shows up in the small role of Professor Kirke and Ray Winstone voices Mr. Beaver (yeah, no kiddin' -- Ray Winstone). These are the sort of things you find amusing if you're me.
Having said all of that, Lord of the Rings it's not. I was a little disappointed that the movie played so much to the under ten demographic and not enough to the rest of us. You get comfortable with the cutesy look and feel of everything, and then three quarters of the way through the movie, people start getting their heads chopped off in the battle (oh yeah, for those unfamiliar, there's a battle three quarters of the way through the story. Sorry to have spoiled that plot point). All in all though, a good effort. Simply by virtue of being a Disney film, it's not destined to be forgotten any time soon, but I don't think it's going to be the LOTR-killer early previews were making it out to be. I think I like the late-'80s BBC version of the story better, but that might be the nostalgia talking since I haven't seen it in twelve years.
I'll also be curious to hear how Christian fundamentalists react to the movie, as it's just as violent and otherwise objectionable (minus the religious subtext) as other PG-level fantasy films. I guess I'd like to hear the reaction of the militant atheists I know, too. About two weeks ago I participated in a loud and aggressive argument with one of them about whether Lewis had meant for the books to resonate as Christian allegory, and I wish I'd had Internet access at the time so that I could pull up these quotes (taken from this news story):
"The whole Narnian story is about Christ."We also saw the trailer for Pirates of the Caribbean and The Temple of Doom (at least, that's what it looks like to me). Will I love it or won't I? I'm betting this is going to be the low-point of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. With any luck, I'm setting myself up for such a colossally bad movie that when it turns out to be merely halfway decent, I'll love it. Or maybe not. I can't really tell because all they show you in the trailer is action. Action-based trailers usually don't do much more than point out that a movie is coming, and that it apparently features some explosions (unless we're talking about like, Jean-Claude Van Damme movies, in which case that's all you need). Davey Jones appears to have been imagined by H.P. Lovecraft via Ramsey Campbell, which is... interesting.
"That is to say, I asked myself, 'Supposing that there really was a world like Narnia and supposing it had (like our world) gone wrong and supposing Christ wanted to go into that world and save it (as He did ours) what might have happened?' The stories are my answers."