Note to the jackasses who were sitting at the back of the theatre: no, you don't look more sophisticated and clever by laughing uproariously at the most poignant parts of the movie, spoiling the experience for everyone else in the theatre.
Look, dudes, I can snark out with the best of them, but your fake, grating laughter does not actually convince us that we are stupid for our feeling during the sacrifice scene. It instead convinces us that you have no heart. Save this for the bad martial arts movies, bitte schön.
I really liked this adaptation of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis. I liked it because it portrayed the content of what I remember the book to be (it's been a while, but I read it many times) very well indeed. In fact, most of its flaws are the flaws of the book itself. The books were, in a sense, really almost made for this kind of treatment, and unlike Tolkien's works, they are short enough to be accurately captured in two hours. In this discussion, I'm going to largely leave out explicit reference to the debate over Narnia and Christianity, since it's been done to death, really, and the books are worth discussing on their own.
By far the best characters and acting were in the White Witch and in Edmund. The boy playing Edmund looked and sounded exactly like what I thought he should look like. I didn't really like the beginning bit with the blitz (which is the only part I don't remember from the book) because it tried to redeem Edmund's initial pathology by ascribing to him sentimental angst about the absence of his soldier father. But this was very easy to forget.
The White Witch's portrayal was simply amazing. In a sense, characters that are pure evil are both difficult and easy to portray. They're easy in that to get the sense of evil out there, you don't really have to put in much work: dress, voice, and lines are sufficient. But to make the evil...elemental and a physical part of the universe, to portray a spiritual and symbolic evil, that's much harder. The White Witch is not a maniac, but she is chilling and she is violent in this movie, the spirit of eternal Ice.
The other players are quite good. Mr. Tumnus, the initial would-be betrayer of Lucy, is portrayed quite subtly for the scenes in which he appears. Lucy is also done well. Peter is such a generic boy-hero character that it would be hard not to do him well by any good-looking early-teen male actor. Aslan is drawn and voiced beautifully.
My only complaint about the acting were one or two of what felt like modernisms. They grate and ring alarm bells and are totally unnecessary, but I'm not entirely sure if they were modernisms so I can forget them.
Cinematography: also faithful and quite subtle in places. When the dwarf offhandedly throws the finished goblet of hot chocolate that the White Witch gave Edmund into a tree, it turns for an instant into a snowball, emphasizing the ephemeral nature of the White Witch's gifts: in reality, she has nothing to give but Cold. The sacrifice scene was unabashedly done in the style of a Passion Play, as it is done in the book: Aslan is beaten, tormented, and humiliated as in the Stations of the Cross. It was portrayed as a wild but ritualistic ancient sacrificial celebration with the White Witch as the triumphant pagan priestess. Her final admonition to Aslan to "despair" was delivered in the right tone, as was her cry of triumph at the end, "The Great Cat is DEAD!".
As I said, the flaws and successes in the movie were thus those of the book. And this leads me to want to discuss, briefly, the nature of the White Witch herself. In the book she is portrayed as pure evil, but Narnia is such a small-scale Kingdom that her pure unfiltered evil almost seems wasted on it, cartoonish. That's why I tend to think that TLTWTW can only be correctly read in light of The Magician's Nephew, its prequel, much the same way that I believe one must read The Silmarillion after the The Lord of the Rings to understand the nature and background of the universe. Alas, many people believe that TMN is slow and boring.
But in TMN, we understand the true nature and extent of her evil. Her entire motivation for being as she is happens to be game theoretic. Her initial, monumental crime was one of preemption. And the fate she meets in TLTWTW is entirely anticipated. In the movie, we see her eyes the moment before she meets that fate: I like to imagine that she realizes at the end how she was ultimately used.
Like I said, an excellent movie of a classic children's fantasy, taking or leaving the Christian advocacy in the books themselves and all the author's cultural and political predilections and heavy-handed allegory.