The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (5/10)

More battles? Check. More in-your-face CGI? Check. The protagonist who was noble in the last film getting a darker side in this one? Check. Pointless romantic subplot? Check. Greater emphasis on special effects and less emphasis on story? Check. A shorter break at the beginning before the action begins? Check. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is a textbook sequel, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

The movie opens with what it would like us to believe is a bang, in which we learn that, surprise, trouble has beset Narnia, and a then it’s a quick cut to an unnamed London train station, where we see that our “The Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe” protagonists aren’t doing so well one year after they left Narnia. Sibling rivalry tiffs erupt here and there, mainly due to Peter missing being a king and wanting to go back where he was respected and admired and not treated like a kid. Apparently this one year gap has affected their acting ability, too, and for the first twenty minutes of the movie their believability as siblings is glaringly lacking.

In any case, Peter gets his wish as a train comes barreling through the station and rips open a gigantic hole in the tunnel through which the children exit to find themselves on a beautiful beach. After narrowly escaping a close encounter with a bear and making friends with a grumpy little dwarf (Peter Dinklage, who outshines everyone else in this movie), the children learn that their one year absence corresponds to a 1300 year passage of time in Narnia, and they must aid a young man named Prince Caspian to regain his rightful place on Narnia’s throne.

Sounds like the set-up for an epic battle movie, don’t it?!? Yes, it does. It sounds exactly like the set-up for at least a dozen other epic battle movies that all of us have seen one too many times. CS Lewis managed to distinguish his book from this ilk by anchoring the story in some strong spiritual themes, not least of which was Narnians’ lack-of-belief in Aslan and the need to prove Narnia that it should never have stopped believing in its true king, but director Andrew Adamson jettisons away everything that he doesn’t see fit to the story and instead focuses on the only thing he really sees fit: Prince Caspian.

Okay, fine, Adamson, I’m with you, but you gotta make me care about this Caspian dude. Adamson fails at this too. Ben Barnes is a decent actor, looking like a young Keanu Reeves, but he hasn’t been in too many films and is easily outshined by William Moseley, who plays Peter. He also has little else to do but look angry in battle scenes, swing his sword in battle scenes, and, uh, scream in battle scenes. That’s what Prince Caspian is – one long, painfully protracted battle scene that, for two hours and twenty minutes, essentially won’t end.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m perfectly fine with movies that have non-stop action; in fact, they’re some of my favorite films out there, but Prince Caspian’s problem is that though it does contain some very fine battle scenes, it’s incredibly derivative and nothing more than a kiddie version of Lord of the Rings. There’s even a scene where a water crossing stops a horde of chasing, evil horsemen. That said, don’t go thinking this PG-rated affair isn’t violent – very often the violence borders on PG-13; in fact this may be one of the most violent PG movies ever made. Rarely ever is a drop of blood spilt, but there are plenty of arrows embedded in flash, barely-concealed neck-slashing with swords, and a hell of a lot of kicks and punches.

The best word to sum-up Prince Caspian? Hum-drum. Most everything that made the first movie enjoyable is violently ripped out, including Aslan, whose great CGI frame has reduced him to pathetic kitty cat, dream-figure, Deus ex Machina status. The main villain is worse than John Malkovich’s turn as the bad guy in “Eragon,” and Tilda Swinton’s icy wickedness as The White Witch will be sorely missed by many. However, it is a better film than most of the fantasy crap that studios are giving us these days, and even though I am being hard on the battle scenes they do go a long way with merely a PG-rating. That doesn’t make it good, though, and in any case, I demand more from my Lewis, and after the tremendously fulfilling “Wardrobe,” I think you should too.

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8 Responses to “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (5/10)”

  1. the makers of Prince Caspian kept to the original story in some ways and strayed in others… i heard they were going to make it into a silly pure-action flick, but thankfully this was not the case

  2. I think that this movie got a poor rating because of one thing. Christianity!!!! Most people hate Christians, which makes them automatically hating Narnia!! I was suprised to find that Skandar Keynes (Edmund) is an atheist!! The Lord of the Rings is Christian, and apparently no one either noticed or seemed to care. Yes I’m Christian (suprise, suprise!)! I remember someone posting a note that says “Everybody hates Christians” and Jesus kills. Which are two things that are SOOOOOOOO untrue!

    When you are afraid of something you hate it. Like my neighbor’s dog who drained the blood right out of me. Of course I’m afraid of it, and I hate it. So all you Anti-Christians and athiests are just afraid of people like me. A true Prodistent for five years. I really don’t care if you offend Narnia as much as I care about you offending me and God and Jesus, and spreading lies.

    Do I like Narnia?? Uh… yeah. Great reading and great movies to top it all off with. So if you have a question about Narnia or Christianity, email me at amdille@localnet.com

  3. Mikaila – I did not not like this movie because I am an atheist. In fact, I am a Christian. The reason I disliked this movie was because of the poor filmmaking techniques used.

  4. Brandon- Hi! Mikaila again! Thank you SOO much for responding!! It’s great to know that some people CAN be Christians and they just may not like the movie! Thanks for teaching me that.

  5. ok, narnia pretty cool huh? Everybody has their own opinion so… if you liked it ( like i did ) well … good, and if you didn´t like it ( like brandon) wel…l don´t criticise the people who do like it.

  6. Me, Mikaila, intruding once again!! You know, sarah, it’s quite ironic that I have a friend named Sarah who likes Narnia like us. You’re not, by chance, Sarah Hebdon, are you? No probably not, I just wanted to post a note that expressed how ironic this turned out to be. Keep leaving comments, people!!

  7. Cecilie Says:

    Jeg vil bare sige at filmen er den bedste af de to narnia film der ar blevet lavet, så jeg ligeglad hvad folk siger. jeg glæder mig allerede til den næste film Morgenvandrerens rejse (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)

  8. Mikaila once again and all I can say is umm… I agree? Or… disagree?? Please, Cecillie, if you can write and read in English, do so. I can not read a singal word. Well I can read a few, but not much. Can somebody translate for me? Thank you. Keep leaving comments and remember, Narnia is Awesome!

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