Directed by: Andrew Adamson
Written by:Ann Peacock, Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Tilda Swinton, Jim Broadbent, James McAvoy, Liam Neeson, Ray Winston
Released: December 26, 2005
Grade: B+

With German planes bombing from overhead, London is not a safe to be.  To keep her four children safe, Mrs Pevensie has sent Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy to live with an elderly professor on a large country estate.

Playing a game of hide and seek, Lucy finds a huge wooden cupboard in an empty room.  It looks like an ideal hiding place.  Lucy opens the door, steps inside and slowly walks towards the back.  The problem is that there is no back to the cupboard – it leads to a snow filled land known as Narnia!

After convincing the others that the cupboard is for real, all four enter the world of Narnia.  They soon learn that their presence has not gone unnoticed.  Narnia has been controlled for a hundred years by the evil White Witch (Swinton) but there is a prophecy which foretells that four humans will destroy her reign.

Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy do not want to be involved in this war but they are forced into combat when the White Witch kidnaps Edmund.  With the help of two talkative badgers, they are introduced to a lion named Aslan and the army he has assembled to take on the White Witch.  Can they stop the Witch before she stops them?

I can best describe The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe as The Lord Of The Rings for children.  It’s an epic story set in a world of fantasy and filled with an assortment of strange creatures.  The similarities don’t end there.  Like Rings, the Wardrobe was filmed in New Zealand, was directed by a New Zealand born director, Andrew Adamson (Shrek), and is being released in Australia on Boxing Day.  At a cost of roughly $180m, it’s another huge boost for the New Zealand film industry.

The film has been marketed as a family motion picture and is rated PG here in Australia.  By keeping it to a PG rating, the violence has been toned down and you will see few deaths in the main battle sequences.  This annoyed me and the death of one certain character could have been made much more suspenseful.  I know we don’t want to disturb small children but surely C.S. Lewis’ book contained more graphic detail.

My favourite of the cast was 10-year-old Georgie Henley as Lucy.  She has an adorable smile and a natural charm.  That said, all four children have been well chosen and give admirable performances, even if their dialogue is a bit stiff at times.  The most recognisable names amongst the cast are those you won’t see on screen.  Liam Neeson, Ray Winstone and Rupert Everett voice three of Aslan’s animal inhabitants.

With its superb visual effects and overall grandeur, The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe will lure big crowds over the Christmas holidays.  It’s not as exciting as I’d hoped but it’s definitely worth a look.