CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, THE: PRINCE CASPIAN
Some 1300 years Narnian time since their last visit, the kings and queens of the land discover that in their absence, the Golden Age of Narnia has become extinct, Narnia has been conquered by the Telmarines and is now under the control of the evil King Miraz (Sergio Castellito). The four Pevensie children (William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley) meet Narnia's rightful heir to the throne, the young Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), who has been forced into hiding as his uncle Miraz plots to kill him in order to place his own newborn son on the throne. With the help of a kindly dwarf (Peter Dinklage), courageous talking mouse Reepicheep (Eddie Izzard), the badger Trufflehunter (Ken Stott) and Black Dwarf, Nikabrik (Warwick Davis), the Narnians, led by the mighty knights Peter and Caspian, embark on a journey to find Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson), rescue Narnia from Miraz's tyrannical hold, and restore magic and glory to the land.
Review by Louise Keller:
Like the first of the franchise, the strength of this fantasy adventure lies in the juxtaposition of two separate worlds and our ability to view Narnia through the eyes of the four young protagonists. The characters are engaging, the special effects extravagantly impressive and the New Zealand and Eastern European settings stunning. Yes, Prince Caspian is terrific and there's plenty to enjoy, but someone needs to tell the filmmakers that length does not make a better film. Quite the contrary. In this case, the film's length has compromised its heart.
In the flash of an eye, we are taken (with the Pevensie children) from London's Strand tube station back to Narnia, where 1300 years have passed since their last visit and much has changed. 'Things never happen the same way twice,' Aslan the lion with the magnificent mane wisely says, as Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy once again find themselves swept into an adventure involving Prince Caspian's reclaiming of his throne. Ben Barnes is a suitable choice for the tall, dark, handsome and athletic Prince who is shepherded to safety from his scheming, ambitious uncle Miraz, powerfully portrayed by Sergio Castellitto. There are power struggles, large-scale battles and there's even a hint of romance between Caspian and Anna Popplewell's Susan, who has blossomed into a beautiful young woman. Georgie Henley's Lucy is appealing as the youngest Pevensie: it is her innocence and ability to believe that allows her to see what the others do not.
The plot confuses at times but the carefully described reality of Narnia with its talking animals (the swashbuckling mouse voiced by Eddie Ezzard is cute), stately centaurs, dancing trees and little people (headed by the always interesting Peter Dinklage) has plenty of charm. Tilda Swinton's White Witch makes a striking cameo appearance behind a spectacular wall of glass and I liked the special effect involving water and a giant Neptune figure. The climactic battle scene is effective but goes on forever, and as the Pevensies' reinhabit their school uniforms and return to their London lives, the way is paved for yet another instalment. Let's hope the filmmakers take heed of the pitfalls encountered here.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The world of Narnia, created in the early 1950s by C. S. Lewis, is a contrast to war battered London, and no doubt a lively escape from it, even in the writing. London's The Strand underground ('tube') station is the jumping off point for this adventure as the four Pevensie children, Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Susan (Anna Popplewell) and Peter (William Moseley) - who are really kings and queens of ancient Narnia - step through to the magical zone that dreams and fantasies, legends and fairy tales are made of.
Andrew Adamson's desire to make this second Narnia so much bigger is a decision he is reported to have regretted. So do I. The 1500 digital effects shots, twice those in the first Narnia movie, do not make the film twice as good. The epic battle scenes are brilliantly done, but ultimately they cost the film it's heart, despite many attempts to keep that heart pumping, through the Pevensie kids themselves and through adult jokes from Eddie Izzard's mouseketeer, Reepicheep.
Adamson is one of the most talented filmmakers on the planet and my admiration for his work is profound; yet I don't find Prince Caspian as complete as his other works, either for its storytelling nor for its ability to glue all the pieces together as powerfully as they need to be. None of this detracts from the performances, both the physical and the vocal, nor from the wonderful visual treat offered by the New Zealand and East European landscapes, the fantastic make up and wardrobe designs, and the sometimes overbearing but often majestic score.
The children for whom it primarily made will lap it up - several times if permitted - and the franchise will continue. I hope it will shrink a bit for the next time, both in spectacle and running time.
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CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, THE: PRINCE CASPIAN (M)
CAST: Ben Barnes, Peter Dinklage, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Sergio Castellitto, Warwick Davis, Shane Rangi,
VOICES: Liam Neeson, Eddie Izzard, Ken Stott
PRODUCER: Andrew Adamson, Mark Johnson, Perry Moore, Philip Steuer
DIRECTOR: Andrew Adamson
SCRIPT: Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely (novel by C.S. Lewis)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Karl Walter Lindenlaub
EDITOR: Sim Evan-Jones
MUSIC: Harry Gregson-Williams
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Roger Ford
RUNNING TIME: 150 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney Studios
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: June 5, 2008