REVIEWS

Ken's Review: Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - Fails to Impress

by
May 16, 2008

  • US Release Date: May 16, 2008
  • Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Family
  • MPAA: Rated PG (for epic battle action and violence)
  • Running Time: 144 minutes
  • Directed by: Andrew Adamson
  • on IMDb
  •    7/10

A few weeks ago Alex listed out his most highly anticipated summer films. In the comments I responded with a list of my own most anticipated summer films in order of most to least excited. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian was fourth on my list, beating The Incredible Hulk, Get Smart and Pineapple Express. I bring this up to point out how excited I was to finally see this movie. The trailers presented a darker, more intense film then we had seen in the first Narnia installment. Sadly, I must report that I did not come out of the theater with a huge smile on my face. Instead I found myself walking to my car disheartened and perplexed.

It has only been one year since Susan, Peter, Lucy and Edmund fell into their first great adventure through the wardrobe, however in Narnia it has been 1,300 years and much has happened. Narnia has been taken over by Telmarines who have all but wiped out any original Narnian inhabitant, or so they think. The rightful heir to the throne, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), has had to run from his evil uncle who is trying to kill him and allow his own son to become the heir to the thrown. While trying to flee the clutches of his uncle, Caspian is forced to use a magical horn that summons the kings and queens of old. Once again the sons of Adam and the daughters of Eve are called back into Narnia to assist Prince Caspian and the Narnians in ridding their land from the foreign Telmarine invaders.

Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, and even Trumpkin are back to help Prince Caspian free the Narnians in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Review

First off, I have to admit to being a huge fan of the Narnia books and the author C.S. Lewis. My favorite books in the series are The Horse and His Boy, The Silver Chair and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I thought the first film, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, was overall very good. It might have lacked in some areas, but ended up being a great film. The same cannot be said for Prince Caspian. It seemed to lack in every area ranging from art production to directing. Any sense of an epic story was missing and the amazing world that they created in the first film was completely lost in this one.

I understand that the invasion and outlawing of Narnians had made Narnia devoid of magic and turned it into a world just like the one the children came from. Does that mean it should lose its sense of grandeur though? Definitely not. Narnia might not be covered in snow, but it is still a place full of beautiful forests, rolling hills and breathtaking mountains. Just about all the scenes are filmed up so close that you have no sense of the world around the characters. If it wasn't for the talking animals, I would have forgotten they were even in Narnia and instead were traveling through Rocky Mountain National Forest.

I'm not sure if director Andrew Adamson just got bored in this one or if he ran out of ideas. His transitions between scenes were rough and awkward, the whole movie felt rushed even though it was over two hours long, and he was unable to get much better than average performances from the actors. Absolutely no time was spent developing the characters. Adamson assumes that everyone saw the first Narnia film so they understand who the four children are. All of the new characters are thrown at you one-by-one without delving into their personalities and allowing the audience a bit of time to get to know them.

Peter tries to teach Prince Caspian how to overcome his concerns and become a leader in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Review

However, the film is not a complete waste. The story is a phenomenal one and they do a great job of getting its essence across. Their portrayal of Reepicheep the mouse is spot on and makes up for some of the movie's flaws. He was always the most memorable character for me and he made me smile in every scene he was in. Lucy (Georgie Henley) steals the show again as far as human characters go. She is so likeable and natural that it makes you think she must be that way in real life. The end battle scene was pretty cool, but still seemed to lack the intensity I really wanted to see.

If you loved the first Narnia movie, then you will love this one as well. If you thought the first one was only mediocre, then you're not going to like this one much more. However, I will say that it was a thousand times better than The Golden Compass. I can't help but be excited for the next Narnia film as well, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I think it will translate to film much better then Prince Caspian did. Let's just hope they get a new director next time that can bring a fresh new perspective to the series.

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  • max
    "Sadly, I must report that I did not come out of the theater with a huge smile on my face. Instead I found myself walking to my car disheartened and perplexed." Then surely you wouldn't think of giving this such a solid rating. Pointless summing up your feelings with a number anyway.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    Ken - I really disagree with you on this one. First, Max is right, a 7 is a good score! This review sounds way more like a 5.. Back on topic. I really did NOT like the first movie at all... And I went into this with rather low expectations and enjoyed it - a lot. Oddly, I thought the direction was actually the best part of it! So odd that that is one of the areas you point out as being so problematic! I really got into this and enjoyed the hell out of it. Thought it moved at the perfect pace, and will agree with you that it was 1000x better than Golden Compass, but it was definitely not as bad as you are making it out to be. Addressing specifically your paragraph about "all the scenes are filmed up so close that you have no sense of the world around the characters," you are completely wrong here buddy. I saw it a few hours ago, and I really felt like I could feel the landscapes of Narnia. The grand castle where Miraz stayed, the land and forests that they all traveled through, and even specific scenes at the end where I could see the glorious mountains and rolling hills in the background. Were you sleeping when you saw this movie?? Just because the battlefield was located next to their hillside fortress doesn't mean it wasn't epic. Seriously Ken, I'm really worried about what you were thinking. I know the response on this isnt going to be as positive as my own, but I thought this movie was a far superior improvement over the first movie largely due to Adamson's improvement over four years. I can't agree with your review on this one in the slightest and must say that I thoroughly enjoyed Prince Caspian.
  • twispious
    "If you loved the first Narnia movie, then you will love this one as well. " BS. Shit review. i'll see this anyway,because as horrible as the child actors were in the first film-it really was ok overall.
  • bltzie
    Come on guys, I haven't seen the movie nor have I read the books, but it seems Ken is very fond of the Narnia books and he just set his expectations way to high on this one. This review truly sounds like a 5 and yet it gets a 7 cause it's clearly written in dissapointment. Let's just say I was going crazy with the last LOTRs before it came out and were I to give it a 7 when I finally saw it I would consider it an epic fail! cause I was just expecting too much. Of course I gave the Retun of the King 10 out of 10 :P but I can see where Ken's coming from. I'm not too crazy about this one though...
  • http://www.firstshowing.net/author/ken-evans/ Ken Evans
    #1 Max - I was disheartened and perplexed because I thought I was going to love it not because I thought it was a piece of crap. Even with the lack of creative directing it was still an enjoyable story. I believe that although a film might lack in certain areas a solid story can go along way. I was still entertained even through all of the things I didn't like which is why I gave it a 7 out of 10. You and Alex could be right though, a 7 might be a bit too high based off of the review.
  • harrison
    im still wondering why theyre kids again, since they left narnia as adults shouldnt they be adults again when they return
  • Darrin
    i still say he should have stayed to direct shrek 3. shrek 3 was shit.
  • Andrew
    #2 Alex I wholeheartedly agree with Ken. He nailed all of the same thoughts I had when I walked out. I was talking to Steve, and intimated all of these points: the movie felt rushed, there was very little / poor character development, roughshod transitions and unbalanced story "weighting". Ken is also right that it was filmed too close up, with no "epic scale". The only time any wide shots were slipped in were to show the battlefield, and it quickly became redundant. There was very little flow to the battle scenes. It seemed they just shot everything they could think of, and then just pieced together "action" scenes to make the battle sequence. They did a poor job of following the battles progress from key characters perspectives. To sum up, the non-battle story and character development was poor, and the battle scenes were herky jerky and lacking. Nice job on the review Ken. You continue to highlight areas of movie structure and flow that I think are critical to making a good movie. You don't simply spout, "Ooh, it was cool, sparkely, loud!". You have a great ability to articulate these subtle facets that are so critical to a well constructed movie. The only thing I would change would be the resulting number "7/10". I would have gone lower.
  • Southtown
    I also have yet to see the film, so I can't fully comment on many of the points Ken and Alex bring up. However, I took Ken's review as he didn't think the movie was bad, just not up to the expectations he had. I can relate to that. I have seen movies, that honestly do deserve a fairly good rating, yet I walked away disappointed. This usually happens when people tell me to much and build a movie up, or if it doesn't meet the standards of the book it was based on, etc. Conversely, I have gone into movies with low expectations (like Alex did), and totally loved them more then most people. Its funny how ones expectations play such a huge part in the enjoyment of movies. That's why I usually try not to read up to much on movies, or watch to many trailers (especially the ones on TV, which seem to show the whole movie plot sometimes). I personally don't have a problem with Ken's review and rating.
  • Brian
    I HAVE seen this film and I thought it was, actually, quite good. I don't know the story or anything, and all I can really compare it to is the first one. Now, the first one was ok, but this one is A LOT better. It will not be the best movie of the summer (duh), but I thought it was a really good adventure. I had a good time watching it. That's what we are really looking for when go to the movies, isn't it?
  • Andrew
    @Brian and Southtown You guys are inevitably right. I think Ken and I both probably had high expectations going in, and when things were slightly clunky or lacking, we tend to be more than just a little disappointed. I do have to say there were several times I couldn't help but cheer!
  • terces7
    The religious metaphors in this one are so in-your-face that it made me laugh when I watched this movie. I never realized how Christian the story was until I saw it on screen. Not that I have a problem with the religious aspect of the story, but it's so noticeable that it almost seems kind of silly to me. I kind of wish the religious aspect of the story could have been maintained a bit more subtly.
  • Tyler
    I hated the first narnia. But I liked this one. Although I could have done without the disney themed mouse and bear. I would give it the same rating.
  • http://www.firstshowing.net Alex Billington
    The bear guys?! The bear had like two lines, and both of them were funny in a cheesy sense... You can't blame the bear for bringing down the movie! That's a ridiculous complaint...!
  • Alfredo
    bad review..good film
  • Destructo
    Can anyone say LOTR wanna be? (SPOILER ALERT)...................................................................................................................................... There where a few scenes where I leaned over to my wife and said "This scene looks almost exactly like one from the LOTR trilogy" Take your pick - When Lucy is riding thru the forest and comes upon the lion (Hmmmm how about when Gimli, Legolas and Aragorn are doing the same and come upon Gandahlf?) It almost looks like the exact same spot in the forest...wtf? Or how about when prince gayspawn (Sorry thats mean), i mean Prince Caspian is giving his little speech about saving Narnia? (Hmmmmm how about in the Fellowship of the Ring at the end right as they are setting off) again the scenery looks familiar. And the Battle between the King and Peter, can anyone say Wethertop from when Frodo was stabbed by one of the Nazgul? just take away the hill and place it on flat ground and you have it. I just wasn't impressed at all by this movie, I think a 7/10 is a little high though there was no orginality in the scenes, it seemed very played out and the actors seemed as if they where just going thru the motions, with no emotion involved. This gets closer to a 5/10 and with all the great summer hit's this year and Iron Man hitting off the 08 summer with a bang this is definatly one movie you can skip.
  • caroline
    i have to disagree the actors in the movie the the best i have ever seen and thats final
  • Southtown
    Ok, I have finally seen the movie for myself! I have to say, I like Prince Caspian a lot better than the first movie. I think the first movie held to the book much better then this one (which had a lot of changes), but it never really did it for me. This one was more enjoyable, but far from perfect. In all, I agree with Ken on most of his review, and think it could have been much better then it was, and I would probably give it the same rating of 7/10.
  • Curtis
    I'm not a fan of the Narnia series i watched the first one when it first came to theaters and i remember i didn't care to much for it. I wanted to see Speed Racer but my friend didn't want to so we went to Prince Caspian i thought i wouldn't like it that much but to my surprise i came out enjoying it way more than expected. I agree with Alex on this one in every way great movie and better than the first i liked the darker feel to it.
  • Christopher
    #12 "The religious metaphors in this one are so in-your-face that it made me laugh when I watched this movie." Okay I hate to break it too you but this story is a religious one. It was written by an Anglican Minister from England. I was a little disappointed in the first on for caving into being politicaly correct and not portaying more of the religous undertones of the books. I have to admit I have not seen this movie yet (going this week) however I do look forward to it and hope that it is somewhat better than the first however the review makes me wonder. I look forward to Reepicheep as he is my fav character from the books.
  • http://www.uwc.ac.za thulas
    its great
  • Kat
    Destructo, you are a fucking idiot, my friend. If you were intellegent enough to read, you'd know these seens were not taken from your preciouse LOTR (though I bet you only saw the movie with that one, too. Heaven knows a cave man like you could never get through the books.) Shut up and sit down.
  • Christopher
    Okay I finally saw that movie, and all I can say is it was amazing. I loved the adaptation from book to screen, yes there are some blaintent changes and differences from the book to screen, but that is normal and you can't expect it to be 100% like the book that would not ever be possible. However to the review above I do disagree with that they did not give enough into the new characters. Even in the book they did not do that overly much, as the characters are and your understanding and love for them grow throughout all the stories. And yes the director should assume that people have seen the first one. It is the second film in the francize (sorry spell checker is down) I would have to give this an 8/10 I actaully am going back to see it again in the next two weeks. Absolutly loved the film and can't wait for the next one.

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