I have had the fortunate situation of seeing The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in an advance screening. I have assisted one of the film's special effects teams with Mac Support over the last 7 months, all the way up until August; when last minute decisions were still being made about the film's editting and voice talent.
C.S. Lewis is supposedly well known for saying that he never wanted a film adaptation of his film; thinking it would lose the true meaning (of allegory for Christ and Christianity), fantastical vision created in readers minds, and that justice just simply could not be done on film ... eventhough he had films such as Gone With The Wind, King Kong, Wizard Of Oz, and Forbidden Planet as the best examples of Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Period Epic filmmaking. While all great movies ... they are obviously from another era as far as special effects go. Lewis never got the chance to see movies such as (friend) J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings series come to film, much less the Star Wars films, Jurassic Park, or even 2001: A Space Oddessy (which was made just a few years after Lewis' death).
The only continued worry that I feel Lewis would have with this film are the slight secular undertones and updates that were added. But, I must say ... this first book was shorter than your modern "fantasy world" films; like Harry Potter book/films. Whereas Harry Potter books span the same number of volumes; they average 1000+ pages ... each Narnia book is around 200 pages. Some elements and fill are necessary to create a film that spans as much time as this film does. Take into account that J.K. Rowling is purposely writing each Harry Potter book purposely to be made into film.
Unlike other reviews, I refuse to give away spoiler elements of the film ... but will give you a small Pro's list as, in my mind, this film is the best I have ever seen ... in fact, I plan on seeing it tonight at midnight and then again at one of the 6 completely digital THX theaters in the country - that is located in my hometown ... an experience that almost changed Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith for me from a good film to a great film.
The last minute decision to make Liam Neeson the voice of Aslan over actor Brian Cox was superb and really adds vocal depth and prestige to Aslan. I was able to hear bits and pieces of both doing the dialogue,; it would have truly made an enormous impact on the film's presence.
Georgie Henley as Lucy. This is the next Dakota Fanning. I cannot believe how well this girl played her role. For her first movie and being only 10 years old ... it's nothing short of destiny for her to play the role of Lucy Pevensie.
While the film does have some filler - it serves to give a new meaning to The Narnia Story: the meaning of family.
The character of Mr. Tumnus must be the best special effect ever created on film ... there is never a point where you would think it was a real man with real legs.
Watch the sky during the movie for hidden messages in the clouds and pay close attention to the armor in battle scenes to see extrordinary detail to film.
Now, I've just got to decide which movie to bump out of The FixYourThinking Top 100 Movies list.