The second installment of the big-budget adaptation of C.S. Lewis’s celebrated series appeared in theaters last week. How does this violent children’s tale fare with older fantasy fans?
Cast and Crew
Director: Andrew Adamson
Writers: Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely.
Based on the novel by C.S. Lewis
Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian
Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie
Skandar Keynes as Edmund Pevensie
William Moseley as William Pevensie
Anna Popplewell as Susan Pevensie
Peter Dinklage as Trumpkin
Sergio Castellitto as King Miraz
Warwick Davis as Nikabrik
Eddie Izzard as Reepicheep
Ken Stott as Trufflehunter
Pierfrancesco Favino as General Glozelle
Alicia Borrachero as Queen Prunaprismia
Vincent Grass as Doctor Cornelius
Harry Gregson-Williams as Pattertwig the Squirrel
Shane Rangi as Asterius
Tilda Swinton as the White Witch
Liam Neeson as Aslan
Full Cast and Crew may be found at the imdb
The Pevensie children return to Narnia to find that centuries have passed and the land has fallen on dark times. Prince Caspian, rightful heir to the throne of the kingdom that has blighted the land seeks their help to restore Narnia, and the faith of a child must, of course, lead them.
The film features some impressive battle sequences, made with an awareness that multispecies war looks simultaneously wondrous and ridiculous.
Andrew Adamson has clearly studied Peter Jackson, and he fills his film with visual wonders.
The cloying pop song that invades the soundtrack at the film’s finale may be the single worst directorial misstep in a fantasy film since Peter Jackson gave Kong an interlude on ice.
Originality: 3/5. It’s an adaptation of a famous novel from a series that has been adapted more than once previously, and the source material itself was somewhat derivative. Unlike the more-or-less faithful first film, the story here has been modified.
Story 4/6. Prince Caspian has been adapted from a children’s story with deliberate Christian overtones, and must be viewed in this light. The plot’s logic reflects its origins. Susie, for example, makes a leap of faith to find an important path that seemingly might have been located with a bit of careful poking about. This minor contrivance from early in the film precedes more serious ones, and they reflect both the story’s themes and the book’s original audience. Likewise, the final
leos deus ex machina strikes me as both annoying and dramatically disappointing, though I understand, from a thematic and theological perspective, why it occurs.
The narrative then, cheats in several places. If you can put reservations about such matters aside, you will find Prince Caspian an enjoyable film.
Acting: 4/6. Generally solid actors do well with some memorable, but underdeveloped, characters. Character development is always a problem when you have an army of characters and only a couple of hours.
Nevertheless, certain supporting characters really shine. Peter Dinklage is excellent as Trumpkin, and Eddie Izzard squeaks out a fine Reepicheep.
The inconsistent Mediterranean accent of the Telmarines becomes irritating.
Production 6/6 The combination of sets, CGI, costumes, make-up, and real locations (this film makes effective use of actual locations) creates a dazzling world. If it’s not quite Jackson’s version of Middle Earth, it impressed me more than Hogwarts.
Emotional Response: 4/6. The film entertains, but the failure to really develop its characters (or use its more interesting ones to best advantage) minimizes the emotional impact.
Overall 4/6. I can recommend this film to its intended audiences—- though it will be too violent for younger children. It lacks the impact of the first, which has a stronger story, developed characters, and a more effective use of World War II as a frame.
In total, Prince Caspian receives 31 out of 42.
If I hadn’t been there with friends, I would have walked out when I realized the whole movie was nothing but a setup for the deus ex machina ending (about the time Lucy went to fetch him), combined with the multiple attempts to justify why you should believe in something you’ve got no evidence is there.
In an Epic fantasy, as this wants to be, the heroes earn their victory, and the lessons they learn from their mistakes along the way help them achieve it. In this movie, while the "heroes" do learn a few small things, victory is achieved not through their efforts, but rather because a little girl "believes". Even that is not a big challenge: she knows he’s real because she’s worked with him before. The only question is whether or not these particular visions are real, which isn’t a stretch at all for her, and shouldn’t be for the rest of the kids because, again, they’ve already worked with him. What’s the point of the kids anyhow? The only useful purpose they served was to go fetch their saviour. And if he’s trying to help, what’s the point in only letting one person see him? Letting hundreds of people die until some chosen person comes to beg for help is reason for disdain, not adoration.
This is a pretty, but pointless, movie.
Re: Good, until…
You’re not wrong. While this film strays from the original in ways that the first one did not, it remains true to C.S. Lewis’s theological leanings. From that perspective, the story’s flaws perfectly mirror the world, as someone with Lewis’s beliefs might perceive it.
Whatever someone might believe, theologically, dramatically, the resulting narrative doesn’t quite work.
Re: Good, until…
I looked at as some religious allegory (because the stories are supposedly written with christian undertones). The only one who had true faith was Lucy. No one else had faith in Aslan’s existence or in themselves to win the battle. Or the older you get, the more jaded and less faithful you are, etc. There’s a few different ways to view this.
Re: Good, until…
That’s one of the themes. Another is that just one person, by keeping their faith and not losing hope, can bring salvation to everyone else.
Re: Good, until…
I agree with you…. sort of. I read these books as a child at the time when my family was heavily trying to brainwash me into their belief system. I have a fond spot in my heart for them to this day and maybe that colors my view of these movies. Personally, the 36 year old atheist me still enjoys these movies despite their flaws. I groan a little inside when the christian themes get a bit overwelming, like the part about not needing proof.
But, I never felt the desire to walk out. Overall, I did enjoy it quite a lot.