Sorry, y'all, that this took so long to get up...some computer glitches and excess Christmas shopping to do. But here we are.
This is a fantastic movie. I loved it, every bit of it, beginning to end. I'm just going to throw out highlights and things I liked:
--The kids are great, especially Georgie Henley, who played Lucy. I just wanted to take her home with me to play. She's so cool and imaginitive and fun, and such a great, instinctive actress. Her face is just an awesome canvas for her to use and she uses it incredibly. The others are good, too-heck, great--but Georgie is just awesome. Awesome. Susan (Anna Poppelwell) is a great older sister who comforts Lucy and tried to be level-headed and practical, exclaiming, "They're beavers! They're not supposed to be saying anything !" at one point. Edmund (Mr. Keynes...I forget his first name) is wonderful as the ill-tempered boy who betrays his family but then blossoms into a self-sacrificing King of Narnia by the end, and Peter is great as the oldest who is trying to be a substitute father and unsure about it, yet becomes a true soldier and grows up substantially by the end of the film. He's great with Lucy, often comforting her, and his scenes with Edmund have a real sibling rivalry sense about them. That's the great thing about the kids--none of them are "paper", they all interact like real siblings and act like real kids. There's nothing fake about any of them.
--The CG stuff is fun and works great. The Beavers and some of the other animals look real (this is especially evident in a scene when Mr. Beaver shakes water from his fur after a dunk in the melting ice river--totally realistic), but Aslan is just the best. He looks like a lion, moves like a lion, etc. Yeah, he's cool. :) And Liam Neeson's voice is great. It's not so obvious that it's "Look, I'm Liam Neeson and I'm Playing This Character." It's subtle, and if you didn't know it was him, you'd probably think, "this guy sounds really familiar but I don't know who it is." He does great work in this role.
--Tilda Swinton is totally scary. She plays the White Witch with a perfect iciness that befits the role to a tee. She is so ridgid and forbidding that it's scary. She will most certainly join the pantheon of Really Scary Witches, including the Wicked Witch of the West and Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty . Be sure to watch her gown as the movie progresses--its changes demonstrate the decline of her power.
--The scene at the Stone Table is chilling, especially the witch's dismissive "So much for love". It's reminiscent of the scene in The Passion of the Christ when Satan visits Jesus in the garden and whispers evil thoughts to make His doubt His mission. This is much the same. Chilling, goosebump-raising stuff, which is helped by the myriad of mythological demons and creatures that surround the Witch and help her in her evil.
--The Witch's castle is another feat of CG stuff, and it's just amazing. It's like the Wicked Witch's castle in The Wizard of Oz gone mad. Incredible, and the interiors are great, too. The scene where Aslan, Peter, Susan and Lucy look out over the vast ice field to see Edmund taken into the witch's castle is like the scene in LOTR: The Return of the King when Sam and Frodo are climbing the mountain pass and come across the Witch King's castle. Between that and The Wizard of Oz it's really creepy. There's a lot of homages in this movie (intentional or not), so they're fun to look for.
--Plot and movement of the story are good. As is not the case with HP and LOTR, with Lewis' books you have to add material to make them feature-length, not subtract to fit a running time. Some of the added things: a prologue set during the Blitz, where you meet Mrs. Pevensie (and it's peh-vehn-see) and see her sending the children off, tags attached to their coats, to live with Professor Kirke (Diggory--a very good Jim Broadbent. You also see some pretty intense images of Blitz bombing, which were cool and do a nice job setting historical context.); a game of cricket; a harrowing trip across a melting river of ice as Peter, Susan, Lucy, and the Beavers are pursued by the Witch and her wolves (which are very, very scary); Peter and Aslan saving Susan and Lucy from a wolf attack in the Narnian camp; and, of course, the battle scene.
I thought the battle was quite well done, intercut with scenes of Lucy, Susan, and Aslan freeing the statues in the Witch's courtyard. The actors playing Edmund and Peter do a very fine job in the battle sequences, especially their individual battles with the White Witch.
--The scenery is so beautiful, especially the sequence when Narnia is blossoming into Spring. I could very happily set up shop in Narnia and live there forever.
--Cair Paravel and the coronation scene are great. (The girls have such great costumes!) I love the crowns!
--And they even include the Hunting of the Stag, which some critics (obviously those who have never read the book) saw as an "epilogue" that had just been tacked on. Duh! It was very nicely handled, with all the kids tumbling out of the wardrobe at the Professor's feet at the end.
Overall, a great, fun, family-friendly movie that runs the gamut of emotions so beautifully, from full-fledged joy to real sadness and regret. It's amazing. I hope they make more--I want to see Reepicheep! (who doesn't?) Rumor has it that the next movie they'll make is Prince Caspian , in which case I will get my wish.
Go. See it. Now!!! Fantastic. :) (Oh, and stay through the beginning of the credits--there's an extra scene!)