If you have read my reviews for any length of time you will know that one of my many film bias is an extreme dislike of talking animals in my movies. Generally, they creep me out and take me right out of the experience. The one exception to that rule was The Chronicles of Narnia. I didn’t think that was a perfect film, but I liked it well enough to go and read all of the books. I always thought Prince Caspian was a pretty weak book. It was too short, the lead character Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) was a whiney little #$## who didn’t do much in it, but the book’s biggest sin was it didn’t really delve into what it must of been like for the Pevensie kids – High King Peter Pevensie (William Moseley), Edmund Pevensie The Just (Skandar Keynes), Lucy Pevensie – The Valiant (Georgie Henley) and Susan Pevensie (Anna Popplewell) adjusted to the idea that they were adult Kings and Queens trapped as powerless 13 – 16 year old children. The book missed an opportunity to explore this dichotomy. When we first see the Pevensie kids we see how they are adjusting – not well. Peter is getting into fights over the most minor slights and it’s up to Edmund to protect his back. And that’s the beautiful thing about this movie – it’s how the Pevensie family has become so close to each other and wise. In the first film they were typical one dimensional kids and the kid actors were clearly out of the element.
Here, they are very self aware and self assured as both actors and characters. There are times when you watch this movie where you can really see the duality of their personalities. You get that yes while they may look like kids, they truly are the former great Kings and Queens that they once were. It’s in their eyes, the way they move, and how they act. These kids could never had pulled this complexity of emotion off in the first film, but here it’s as if they were born to play these parts. The change in Edmund and Susan are the most pronounced. Edmund is a bad ass, calculating warrior that will do anything to protect his family, especially his brother Peter. While Susan has grown to be quite the fighter herself, the camera loves her and director Andrew Adamson showcases her perfectly, especially during the sweeping battles. When Susan breaks out the bow and arrow it’s a thing of beauty and pleasure to watch. As far as the animals go, I had the biggest concern for the noble mouse Reepicheep, I didn’t care for his character in the book, but he’s great in the film.
In one of our many emails, I think Sheldon summed up why Caspian works so well the best – it’s because the filmmakers chose to “make Caspian, naïve, rather than whiney.” And that subtle change makes all the difference in the world. Caspian comes across as stronger in the movie, more pro-active, not someone who just let’s things happen to him. He’s also self-involved at the most inopportune times. I like the fact that the film really played up the rivalry between Peter and Caspian. In the book Caspian just let Peter do everything without complaining or standing up for himself. Here Caspian calls Peter on his sometime “arrogance.” The writers Andrew Adamson (screenplay), Christopher Markus (screenplay), and Stephen McFeely took the best of C.S. Lewis’ work and expanded it to make it better. It’s a shame that Peter and Susan won’t be in the next film, because they will be missed. Everything about Prince Caspian is just right in terms of cinematography, scope and vision; the tone is dark but hopeful, and epic but intimate. While watching the battle scenes, the only thought going through my mind was, I hope the final Harry Potter film is a 10th as good as this was – . Bring on Eustace and Dawn Treader!
Final Grade A
EM Review by Michelle Alexandria Originally posted 5.17.08
Disney’s second Narnia movie is an improvement on the first one. The story is bigger, the colors [both in terms of set and effects design and in terms of performances] are brighter, the storytelling is bolder.
The story involves a race of Adam’s Sons [humans] called the Telmarines, who have conquered Narnia and hunted the Narnians [they think] to extinction. Prince Caspian X [Ben Barnes] is the heir to the throne, but not of age. Instead, the kingdom is ruled by his Uncle, Miraz [Sergio Castellito] – at least until his aunt births a son. Then Miraz sends men to kill his nephew so that he can begin his own line of royalty. His tutor helps him flee and gives him an ivory horn to blow only as a last resort.
In a London subway station, the Pevensie children are about to take a train to school when the station falls apart around them, leaving them standing in Narnia – but not the Narnia they knew – Caspian has blown the horn. While they’ve been home for a year, Narnia has passed through 1300 years! Now, they must help Caspian regain his kingdom and save the denizens of Narnia.
One of the reasons that Prince Caspian works so well is that the creative team [writers Stephen McFeely, Christopher Markus and Andrew Adamson, who also directed] took the key elements of the story and built an epic tale around them without feeling the need to be slavish in their adaptation. Another reason is that the four actors who play the Pevensies [Georgie Henley, Skander Keynes, Anna Popplewell and William Moseley] are quite brilliant [which marks a drastic change for Popplewell and Moseley, who were pretty wooden in the first film]. Ben Barnes does a nice job as Caspian, who came off as whiny and a bit of a wimp in the book but comes across as a bit naive but brave here.
Once again, the supporting cast is also first-rate. Peter Dinklage stands out as Trumpkin, a somewhat acerbic dwarf whom Lucy [Henley] describes as her “dear little friend.” [“That’s very patronizing,” he snorts]. Then there’s the mouse warrior, Reepicheep, voiced by Eddie Izzard – who is a bit put off by his foes’ lack of imagination [“Yes, I’m a mouse. Can’t you think of something more original?”].
So, the script and the performances are first-rate. But what about the effects? They’re also pretty stellar. Whether we’re talking the denizens of Narnia [a talking badger among them], or a spectacular creature who appears near the end, the effects are both first-rate and completely in service to the story.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is hit – a palpable hit!