Movie Review 2: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
By Anne Brodie May 16, 2008, 15:42 GMT
In ‘Prince Caspian’, the children return to Narnia to discover that thousands of years have passed since they ruled the fantastical land. Their reign is now nothing but a distant legend, and the world under the control of a wicked king. Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy must help a young prince named Caspian restore Narnia’s past. ...more
This is one dark children’s film.
The tone of this, the second of the Narnia Chronicles, is cold and glum – it starts dark and gets darker. It’s a surprising choice considering the original was as adorable, optimistic and pretty as a picture. Folks wanting to re-experience that magic are out of luck.
But there is a bigger worry.
What I really can’t wrap my head around is the sight of adolescent Susan, mowing down opponents with a skillfully manipulated bow and arrow. Sure, sometimes she’s in full on battle mode, but other times, she’s not. A stone cold killer.
Okay, so I didn’t read the books. Does Savage Susan shock anyone else?
That being said I can’t address the film’s religious aspects or the book’s transition to the screen.
I can talk about the movie.
Much of the magic of the first film, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, comes from the play between London and Narnia, the contrasts of then and now, reality and illusion, daily life versus the heightened emotions of Narnia.
Another of its great charms is the White Witch, played so eerily by Tilda Swinton.
Prince Caspian merely tips the hat to these important elements.
The Pevensie children are a year older, but the Narnia to which they return is 1300 years older than it was. Maybe being older accounts for the children’s lack of awe, even boredom, at finding themselves in Narnia again, been there, done that! In fact, they look a little bored throughout - is this someone’s interpretation of being older?
They’re not so innocent and fresh anymore; they are intense and less joyous. Can't fantasy children grow up, remain joyful and experience wonder? Even Georgie Henley as Lucy can’t raise the fun factor.
Narnia is in a colossal stew, or the children would not have been summoned. The peace loving Narnians are under Telmarine occupation, provisionally ruled by the evil tyrant Miraz and his violent hordes.
Prince Caspian, the rightful heir to the throne of Narnia, is Miraz’ nephew and he’s about to be killed to make way for the new order. We meet him just as a trusty servant whisks him from his cloaked castle bed. Moments later, a band of Miraz’ assassins fires arrows into what they think is him.
Prince Caspian makes good his escape into the woods, where he meets the Pevensies.
Now we see light in Susan’s eyes!
The girl has taste. Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) is a veritable Prince Charming, easy on the eyes, lion hearted, kind and generous. How did he get to be so nice with an uncle like that?
Peter Dinklage is memorable as the children’s sarcastic protector and the Reepicheep, a lion hearted mouse voiced by Eddie Izzard, provides some much needed comic relief.
Battle scenes are electrifying in high-tech and low tech ways, the animation is superb and the ancient, medieval weaponry genius. Simple, effective and cool to watch. Mano-a-mano and bow and arrow battles show us that it’s the brain, not brawn that wins the day. Instinct and quick, young feet.
Take that Miraz and your vast armies!
The film is reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings, a quest in dark places where oddities dwell and lionhearted adolescents run the war campaign. Isn’t that always the case? Children have historically been soldiers.
A word about the beasts of Narnia. Once again, the animals and mythic creatures are gloriously imaginative. A beautiful centaur watches over them but Aslan, the Lion, King of the Beasts, is a supreme being. There are so many different real and imaginary species.
The filmmakers have created a world of wonder, but it may be under lit for some. At 147 minutes, it’s a long time to linger in such a relentlessly dark world.
The darkness reflects the children’s loss of innocence as they take on the things of adulthood. They grew up fast!
Directed by Andrew Adamson
Written by Andrew Adamson et al, based on C.S. Lewis’ book
Runtime: 147 minutes
MPAA: Rated PG for epic battle action and violence