It has already been a year since returning from the magical world of Narnia, but Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie can hardly just forget all that they had experienced there as the Kings and Queens of Narnia! However, little do they know that the time for them to return is at hand because once again the world of Narnia is in dire need of their assistance.
1300 years have passed since their reign and the face of Narnia has completely changed since those glory days. The kingdom now finds itself under the despotic rule of the warlike Telmarines and most Narnian inhabitants are either extinct or living in hiding. However, all that is set to change as the young Prince Caspian, rightful successor to the Telmarine throne, is forced out of his kingdom by his uncle hell-bent on claiming the throne of the kingdom for his own newly born son. Running for his life and desperate for any help that he can get, Prince Caspian inadvertently blows on the magical horn that brings the four Pevensie children back to Narnia to once again set about saving their beloved kingdom.
…The only problem is that this time around the long since missing Aslan is NOT going to be helping them out and the children will need to dig deep within themselves to find the hope and courage needed to stop the Telmarine advance and set Narnia free once again!
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is a 2008 fantasy film based on the second novel in C. S. Lewis’ Narnia series, and follows on from 2005’s smash hit for Walt Disney and Walden Media, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The movie is once again directed by Andrew Adamson who directed the first Narnia movie and features most of the original cast back in their respective roles, but also includes amongst others the newcomers Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian and Sergio Castellitto as King Miraz.
Work on this follow-up movie actually began before the first Narnia movie was even released, mainly to ensure that the producers don’t sit with the problem of the actors outgrowing their respective roles before the series is done (a problem that perhaps Harry Potter is currently having to deal with). Although the scrip is based heavily on C. S. Lewis’ original work, Adamson in particular wanted to make a movie that trumps the first, and therefore introduced a completely original action sequence into the final script that is not part of the original novel, something that is sure to make loyalists to C.S. Lewis’ work grit their teeth.
The story itself is not particularly complex, befitting as a family/children’s movie should be, and basically focuses on the courage and faith that the children need to find within themselves in order to save the day and free Narnia from her oppressors (which basically involves them fighting everyone and anything that opposes them).
I must admit though that I do have a slight misgiving about the story in that these four, fairly young children (except for perhaps Peter) all arrive in their fantasy world, and without a second thought, start killing other humans who are immediately perceived as their enemies. In the past children’s movies have always made a point of portraying monsters or other non-human entities as the villains, but to actually have the boys and girls kill human after human without pause, guilt or regret, is a little bit of a bitter pill to swallow, particularly if you are going to be taking your young children to see the movie with you in the first place.
The movie plays out in just under two and a half hours, and to be honest, it does feel a little dragged out, especially the long sequences towards the end of the movie. However, it certainly doesn’t disappoint in terms of providing solid fantasy and a magical environment that is sure to draw you in as well as back all this up with tons of action and fantasy sequences, enough to keep even the most hyperactive of young boys and girls well satisfied!
Georgie Henley (Lucy Pevensie), Skandar Keynes (Edmund Pevensie), William Moseley (Peter Pevensie) and Anna Popplewell (Susan Pevensie) are all well settled into their respective roles by now and all four of the ‘children’ put on a show that is pretty much consistent with how they performed in the first movie. The all important new ‘face’ for the movie is movie newcomer Ben Barnes who plays as the titular Prince Caspian. Admittedly, Barne’s performance in not the greatest ever seen, but I’m pretty sure that most of the girls who see this handsome fellow in action don’t really care in the least bit about his acting. However, the biggest and juiciest of all the performances must surely come from the established Italian actor Sergio Castellitto who plays the part of the villainous King Miraz with a deft and delightfully over-the-top performance.
Of course, a big budget fantasy movie like Prince Caspian depends heavily on its CGI and special effects to bring its many breathtaking backdrops and marvelous inhabitants to life, and in this respect the movie most certainly does not disappoint. Combined with some awesome special effects, such as the whole brilliantly handled water king scene, comes a lot of wonderful creature and costume designs, with the movie taking on a markedly more medieval feeling to the procedures than what the first one did. (Special mention should be made to the wonderful uniforms adopted by the Telmarine armies, singled out by their use of brilliantly designed face masks that draws equally from the conquistador and samurai traditions!)
The veteran and renowned game and movie score composer Harry Gregson-Williams has been pulled onboard to provide the sound for the movie and as per usual he comes up with a brilliantly epic score which is certainly darker in tone to that of his score for the first movie, but also manages to hide some clever tricks in it, like inverting the first film’s heroic score to form the theme music for the villainous King Miraz!
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is everything you would expect from a big-budget children’s fantasy movie. It sticks closely to the formula that made it such a hit in its first outing (and as such may lose a little of its sense of wonder in the process), but it is as solid as any movie you could expect in the cinema these days and should please all the kiddies around you to no end. Like I said, there are a few misgivings about the fact that the lead children slaughter human after human (NO blood of course!), but apart from that it is a fun-filled fantasy romp that is certainly a lot darker in tone than the first movie but should still appeal to most of the viewers who enjoyed the first film in the series!