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

Premise

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.

High Point

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.

Low Point

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.

The Scores

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.

Effects: 6/6.

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.