The great Christian apologist C.S. Lewis also penned a series of fantastical, biblically themed books about a magical land called Narnia. The most famous of these, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, was made into a major motion picture last year. Erin and I saw it on DVD last night.

Unlike the book, it is, unfortunately, hard to recommend. The CGI effects which appear in ever larger segments of the film range from incredibly poor to excellent. The poor scenes are embarrassing. They include bad lighting which fails to integrate actors with their background CGI matte (meaning you can tell they’re just standing around in front of a studio green screen) and wind action which happens on the CGI lion but not on the actors riding him (so the lion’s mane blows back fiercely against the wind, while the kids’ hair and cloaks remain stationary). Don’t even get me started on the Shrek-like beaver couple.

Honestly, special effects work like this is one step above running a movie projection of a street behind somebody driving a car. In 2005, it is utterly unacceptable, and it jarringly knocks one out of Narnia’s fantastical world. Unfortunate, since other effects shots are terrific (particularly—excepting the end—the scenes with Mr. Tumnus, the faun).

The film holds several lame moments, notably the Peter’s first one-on-one battle with Maugrim, the wolf. His “victory” amounts to little more than the wolf jumping on his sword followed by everybody yelling “huzzazah, Peter you da man!” (or the Narnian equivalent). The final battle and its lack of dramatic tension also merit mention since as the climax it should theoretically have some, but suffice it to say that in the hands of a more skilled director (Peter Jackson springs to mind since much of this was filmed in New Zealand) this whole affair could have turned out much better (albeit much longer).

The acting ranges from passable to good with excellent performances from Georgie Henley (Lucy Pevensie), Tilda Swindon (The White Witch) and James McAvoy (Mr. Tumnus, the faun). Others are passable with occasion good scenes.

Be that as it may, for my part, I continue to recommend the book.