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RENT IT: ICE QUEEN AND JELLY; THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE (PG, 2-Disc DVD pounds 22.99) ***.

Byline: BY JESSICA MELLOR

There was almost as much hype and expectation surrounding the release of this fantasy adventure as there was when the first instalment of The Lord Of The Rings came out. And director Andrew Adamson certainly had his work cut out, bringing CS Lewis' children's fantasy to the big screen.

It's the Second World War and Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell) are sent to the country as evacuees to escape the bombing of London.

Slightly bored and ensconced in a massive house, they create their own fun by playing hide and seek. The youngest girl, Lucy, finds an old wardrobe, goes inside and discovers that the back opens onto a magical but freezing cold world called Narnia.

There she meets Mr Tumnus (James McAvoy) a half-man, half-goat like creature called a Faun who tells Lucy of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton), an evil tyrant who has condemned Narnia to a winter lasting 100 years.

Once back through the wardrobe into the real world, no one believes Lucy's story, but when the others also happen upon Narnia, they too are captivated by its mystery.

However, they soon discover that their arrival in this strange land is no accident and it is their destiny to work together with the true ruler - a lion called Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) - and his many followers, including the friendly Mr and Mrs Beaver (Ray Winstone and Dawn French) to overthrow the empire of the wicked Witch.

While I enjoyed the film as a whole, I didn't really bond with the kids. They were decent enough little actors, but I felt they weren't down-to-earth or sympathetic enough. I did marvel at the special effects, thought the sound design was good and believe Swinton was perfectly cast as the White Witch. I also cheered up whenever Winstone and French made an appearance as the Beavers.

Neeson, too, gives the story gravitas as the voice of Aslan and Jim Broadbent's brief appearances as Professor Kirke were welcome.

The extras are the usual for a film like this, with lots of behind the scenes stuff looking at the casting, filming, special effects and action sequences.

CAPTION(S):

BEWITCHING: Tilda Swinton' HEROIC: Susan, Edmund and Peter' BOND: Lucy and Mr Tumnus
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 31, 2006
Words:382
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