Walden Media, the production company of conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz, aspired to turn C.S. Lewis’s fantasy series The Chronicles of Narnia into a blockbuster franchise along the lines of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, though the evangelical outreach campaign that accompanied this inaugural entry won it the nickname “The Passion of the Lion.” Directed by Andrew Adamson (Shrek), coscripted by South African writer Ann Peacock (In My Country), and fashioned in part by an army of effects technicians, it faithfully adapts Lewis’s enthralling tale of four young siblings who enter a magical world and find themselves plunged into a struggle between the evil White Witch (a hair-raising Tilda Swinton) and the Christlike lion Aslan (an imposing CGI beast given voice by Liam Neeson). The Christian themes of forgiveness and sacrifice are tastefully conveyed, and the opening sequence of Nazi bombs falling on London, an event only alluded to in the book, helps dramatize Lewis’s fascination with power. PG, 140 min.