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

Year: 2005
Studio: Disney
Director: Andrew Adamson
Writer: C S Lewis
Cast: Tilda Swinton, Liam Neeson, Jim Broadbent

Another Christmas holiday season, another franchise and licensed merchandise-building movie intended to blanket the world with an orgy of plastic toys from the third world.

Yes, it's this year's Enormous Battle Scene Movie. After the staggering success of Lord of the Rings, there's almost been a new genre created in the fantasy action movie. And with a wealth of literature that comes with in-built appeal in the form of generations of childhood memories, Hollywood producers are probably falling over themselves to snap it up faster than you can say 'doesn't this look like Middle Earth?'

The signs are all there. Medieval-era weapons, fantastical beasts, the hero riding up and down the line giving the rousing speech to the troops, the chief goodie and baddie just happening to end up facing each other on the battlefield (what are the odds?) There's no doubt about it, war is money in Hollywood in the early 21st century.

That the four Pevensie children have been shuffled off the country to escape the Blitz and stumble upon Narnia through the wardrobe playing hide and seek, then have to lead the forces of good against the White Witch hardly needs explaining to most people born during the last century.

Shrek director Adamson extracts all he can out of the story, and while the end result isn't disappointing, you can't help thinking some things are better left in words than translated into yet another war movie.

Tilda Swinton – very hot right now – gives as good a performance as she can without accusation of doing it for the money, the kids are all good as we can expect for their age (although the elder two end up more Aragorn and Arwen than the buttoned up, jolly-hockey-sticks Brits they're supposed to be.

The much commented-upon Christian subtext is there but no more than the narrative of the book demanded – Adamson has neither plugged them harder nor pared them down.

But it's (once again) nothing you haven't seen before. If, by about 1985, there'd been 50 movies with a huge star cruiser flying overhead in pursuit of a much smaller ship (a la the beginning of Star Wars), we'd be similarly sick of that.

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