The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Andrew Adamson

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Andrew Adamson
The Narnia brouhaha in the press, which is about its far-right backing as much as the finished product, has made it nearly impossible to write a sensible review. My liberal atheist leanings make me cringe at the thought of offering any praise for a film that will line pro-Bush (and, reportedly, anti-gay) coffers, but the truth is it isn't the 3-D Jesus postcard people feared and it's fairly reasonable in its recounting of C.S. Lewis's famous fantasy.

The Chronicles of Narnia is content to let the tale of four children who pass through a magic wardrobe into the winter-poisoned land of Narnia stand up to personal interpretation as either a content-free fairy tale or a genuine Christ allegory — you can choose your camp and let the good times roll. But though I can't bring the hammer down for the lefties, there's not much to say for the conservatives — as it stands, Narnia is barely adequate, a tolerable but unmemorable romp with some lazy design, lackadaisical dialogue and a quartet of young protagonists who can't really shoulder the burden.

Director Andrew Adamson (of Shrek fame) shows almost no real creativity: everything visual seems rote and by the book, and while Tilda Swinton makes one hell of a White Witch, she's operating in a vacuum without human competition. To be sure, you can watch the thing and it's not a rubber mallet to the head like most blockbusters, but there isn't a shred of originality in what is, let's face it, an attempt to make a family-friendly product rather than a genuine artistic venture.

Even Uncle Walt wanted to make these damn things look good; all this wants is to get done in time for Christmas. The love of craft is missing and so is the reason to see it. (Disney/Buena Vista)