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(Review originally written at 20 April 2006)

Quite honestly the movie surpassed my expectations. When I first saw the trailer for this movie I thought that the movie was sure to become a dreadful failure. It looked cheap, had unconvincing special effects, had a cheesy bad name and looked like nothing more than a light-version of the Lord of the Rings movies. But no, the movie turned out to be surprisingly good and entertaining. It's a beautiful looking- imaginative movie, that despite its flaws is still a very entertaining movie.

The movie has an absolutely wonderful imaginative story and is almost entirely set in an imaginary world, that visual looks really good. The imaginative story provides the movie with a certain charm and magical feeling. Also the costumes and special effects add to this feeling and charm.

Its a children's movie and its a real good one. So it might not be as heavy and spectacular to watch as other fantasy movies but it's still just as entertaining and imaginative. For children for who The Lord of the Rings trilogy is still to heavy, violent, dark and perhaps to serious this is the ultimate perfect alternative. But this movie is more than just a light-little-version of the The Lord of the Rings movie. This movie is good and strong enough on its own, even despite the fact that it was obviously inspired and made in the same style as the The Lord of the Rings movies.

The movie has some really good moments in it that are highly imaginatively and very beautiful to watch. Some of the action is impressive and also the climatic spectacular end battle does not disappoint.

The cinematography by Donald McAlpine is great and so are the sets and costumes but truly spectacular is the musical score by Harry Gregson-Williams, that really uplifts the movie at certain moments. He really is on the way of becoming one of my favorite movie composers.

The cast is really good. The children cast is impressively good and all of them are highly convincing in their roles, even though their character might not be. Also the presence of Tilda Swinton as the villainous White Witch is a real big plus for the movie. She plays her role extremely well; villainous and evil but not too scary for the kids. Most of the other actors and voice-actors are also good but their role is too small to really leave a lasting impression.

But as strange as it might sound, the movie is also heavily flawed in multiple ways. The storytelling and pace are really lacking at times. Some characters just pop-up out of nowhere without getting a proper character introduction. Also in the next following sequences the characters are not developed and are lacking in depth. Because of this, it's hard to care sometimes about certain characters. At some points the movie also feels extremely rushed, such as for instance the ending. The movie doesn't always take enough time to build up its story and the emotions and characters in it. It all makes it too obvious that Andrew Adamson is still a beginning director that still has certain things to learn, especially about storytelling.

Also the whole, moralistic story with family values and Christian undertone doesn't do much good to the story and storytelling. It's not as overly present as expected but it still works distracting at certain points in the movie and perhaps even makes it a bit too ridicules to watch at times. But overall I must admit that it was quite toned down in the movie, so it's not really a big issue. At least not to me it wasn't.

The special effects are really a mixed bag. Some of the effects are amazingly good looking and some others are highly unconvincing. Multiple different special effect studios worked on this movie, so that explains the diversity in quality. The Oscar nomination certainly was too much credit for this movie, especially when considering that the effects for "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith" were not nominated at all. So basically that's saying that the effects for this movie were better than "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith"? Sorry, I don't think so...

Still I gave the movie the benefit of the doubt, so to speak, and still give this movie a high rating, due to its entertainment value. None of the weaker spots and flaws of the movie prevent this movie from being spectacular and beautiful looking adventure/fantasy movie. I'm now really looking forward to the other movies, from the book-series written by C.S. Lewis.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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