The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

    The Pevensie children return to Narnia after an interval that has been for them a year but in the magic land a thousand years have passed. You’ll remember that Peter, the oldest, had been high king of the realm and his siblings were also kings and queens. Shortly after they returned to our world, Narnia was invaded by a race of humans called Telmarines, who are marked by their paranoid hatred of Narnia’s mythological races and talking animals. These magical creatures decided that the best survival strategy was to hide in the forest and let the Telmarines think they are all dead.
     That is the situation as it stands when Telmarine Prince and direct heir Caspian (Ben Barnes) comes into his majority. His uncle, Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) has been acting as regent. But when Miraz’s wife bears him a son, he sends his guards to murder Caspian. The Prince barely escapes with the help of his tutor, Dr. Cornelius (Vincent Grass)
and makes his way into the forest. There he discovers Narnia’s original inhabitants. He agrees to lead an insurrection with the help of the old kings (the Pevensie children).
    Prince Caspian is a good looking film with great sets and terrific special effects. The various talking badgers, mice, centaurs and fauns are all seamlessly integrated. The battle scenes are exciting and the acting, especially Caspian and the four children is top notch, although no moment comes close to Tilda Swinton’s brief cameo as the White Witch. But the child actors do a good job of showing their frustration at having grown up in Narnia and then having to do it again in our world. Unfortunately, the script doesn’t really explore that aspect of it.
    That’s the main problem with Prince Caspian; it is too rushed and it depends too much on the audience having prior knowledge of the book and the first movie. It doesn’t feel complete. Only the title character is developed in something like full. The rest, especially the talking animals get short shrift. They have long complicated names but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what they are if it weren’t for the Internet Movie Database. As for their motivations: forget it.
    Another problem is that Narnia just isn’t a very well developed world. C.S. Lewis was more interested in his themes of faith and steadfastness than in creating internally consistent worlds. To me Narnia has always seemed artificial.
    Still, Prince Caspian is worth your time and money.


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May 2008
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