Current plans call for at least dad and son to see the movie tomorrow morning. For commentary about the movie, the NRO site is hard to beat: Frederic Mathewes-Green, John J. Miller, Rich Lowry, Catherine Seipp, and a Q & A with a producer. If you’re left wanting more, there’s James Kushiner at Mere Comments (which will likely have more as more contributors make it to the movie), and Jonathan V. Last.
I’ll let you know what I think (and, more importantly, what other family members think) after we’ve seen the movie.
Update: My son and I saw the movie this afternoon. Both of us liked it a good deal, though not, I think, as much as we liked (and still like) the LOTR trilogy. The de rigeur cinematic bells and whistles were excellent: the natural vistas were beautiful, the CGI battle scenes were impressive, and the fantasy characters were extremely well-done. Everyone says that Tilda Swinton is a magnificent White Witch, and I’d have to agree, though she may scare some younger viewers. (We lost our viewing partners on the basis of her appearance in the trailer; my friend and his eight year old daughter were set to go until she was spooked by the witch.) The child/teen actors are very believeable and effective.
I think that children and parents who grew up with Narnia will be quite pleased with the movie, and so will some others (see John Moser’s comment below). It’s pretty faithful to the book, and captures its message of redemptive sacrifice very well. The bells and whistles don’t overwhelm the story, and (certainly in my 10 year old son’s case) may seal some people’s allegiance to the movie. (He’s already announced that he has to have the DVD when it comes out; I know which parts he’ll watch over and over again.)
Here, however, I must confess that I was not one of those who grew up with Narnia; I came to Lewis later in life, and then through his apologetic writings (which I like a good deal). (I was a Tolkien reader as a young teen, but didn’t then make the bridge to Lewis.) Perhaps that explains my relatively greater affection for the LOTR movies, despite their problems: the Tolkien story is written for a more "grown up" audience than are the Narnia tales. Coming to it as an adult, I don’t find the Narnia story as rich and rewarding as the tale of the rings. As a parent, I see how it works for my children, and I cherish it for that. But as an adult movie-goer, I’m satisfied but not blown away.
I’ll be interested to see whether my response is idiosyncratic. Will the film build an audience apart from families and those who fell in love with the story when they were young? Will it lead more mature viewers back to Lewis’s books? I’m interested in others’ thoughts.