Ken's Review: Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - Fails to Impress
by Ken Evans
May 16, 2008
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.
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.
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.