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Andrew Adamson's 2008 fantasy film and the first sequel in the Narnia film series.

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Return to a More Savage Narnia

  • Jun 10, 2009
Rating:
+3

"You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve," said Aslan. "And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content."
–Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, by C.S. Lewis

 

In Disney's first sequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, director Andrew Adamson decided to make a darker, more adult film than the original entry film into the Narnia series. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is a dreary follow-up that abandons the innocence and whimsy that made the first film so enjoyable. Shifting his attention from the spirituality of C.S. Lewis' books to large-scale action and violent spectacle, Prince Caspian becomes a cold and militaristic war story. In all likelihood the film is too intense for younger children, who are expecting a story about valiant heroes and magical talking beasts. Instead they will find a harsh film about sacrifice, betrayal, pride, and regret. When you compare Prince Caspian to other films that feature epic battle sequences, it's hard to understand how it only received a PG rating. In my own opinion this is because the film is widely considered a Christian film, and as we all have learned from the films of Cecil B. DeMille, you can get away with inserting as much potentially offensive material into your film as you want, so long as you tag an obligatory moral message on the end. However, in spite of the overall change in tone, Prince Caspian is still an entertaining popcorn film that will, without doubt, build up anticipation for further adventures in Narnia. I suspect that I will be in the minority of those who wished that the film had been more faithful to Lewis' tale and focused less on over-the-top and ultimately unnecessary scenes of action/violence.


When the story begins, one whole year has passed for the four Pevensie siblings and they've grown up quite a bit, which is reflected in their attitudes. Peter, the eldest, has become arrogant and confrontational. Susan has grown more pretentious and insecure, and she's also become aware of the fact that boys are now attracted to her. Edmund is now loyal and courageous (his last adventure in Narnia having redeemed and humbled him somewhat). And Lucy, the youngest, is still innocent and full of wonderment but now she's concerned with how people perceive her, which results in her distancing herself from her faith and creates an inability to act independently of her siblings.

When the Pevensies are mysteriously transported back to Narnia, they are immediately reminded how Narnian time differs from Earth time. Though for them only a year has passed since their last visit to Narnia, over a thousand years have passed in Narnia. During that time, Narnia was invaded by the Telmarines, who now rule the land.

Prince Caspian, a young handsome Telmarine prince, discovers that his treacherous uncle Miraz intends to have him murdered. Miraz' wife, Queen Prunaprismia has given birth to a son and if Caspian was out of the way then Miraz could ascend to throne as the true king.

Caspian summons the High Kings and Queens of Old Narnia (a.k.a. the Pevensie children) to help him reclaim his birthright as the next king. But it soon becomes apparent that Peter and Caspian both think of themselves as the natural leader and their egos lead to conflict. Despite this rivalry, they manage to organize a rebellion against Miraz. Gathering together a great host of talking animals, mythological beasts, and anyone still loyal to Narnia, they plan a counterattack against Miraz. Among their new allies are the dwarfs Trumpkin and Nikabrik, the noble swashbuckling mouse Reepicheep, and the faithful badger Trufflehunter. The desperate Narnians are driven to use questionable tactics, suggested by Peter, in order to combat the ruthless Miraz, who himself must deal with his own mutinous subjects by a show of great cruelty.

Rather than placing their faith in the Great Lion, Aslan, the majority of Narnians look to the Pevensies to save them from extinction at the hands of the Telmarine soldiers. With Peter as their leader, the Narnians attack Miraz' castle, but things don't unfold as planned and they are forced to retreat, leaving many of their number behind to die. The defeated Narnians return to their refuge, morally dejected and in mourning for their fallen comrades.

When Miraz and the Telmarines march on their hideout, the Narnians resort to one last ditch effort to defeat them. Motivated by his pride Miraz accepts their terms and agrees to duel Peter to the death, to the winner of the duel goes the throne of Narnia.

 

 

The film's cast includes William Moseley as Peter Pevensie, Anna Poppleton as Susan Pevensie, Skandar Keynes as Edmund Pevensie, Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie, Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian, Peter Dinklage as Trumpkin, Warwick Davis as Nikabrik, Sergio Castellanto as Miraz, with Eddie Izzard as the voice of Reepicheep, and Liam Neeson as the voice of Aslan.

Most of the cast is quite good, though Ben Barnes seems a poor choice for Caspian as the accent he adopts is very distracting. Also for some reason the filmmakers have decided to cast Mediterranean (Greek, Italian, Spanish, and Mexican) actors to play the Telmarines, which gives the film an unintended racial overtone. It also makes Miraz and the Telmarines appear rather Mussolini-esque.

 

The film also makes numerous departures from C.S. Lewis' book, including changing the age of the Pevensies and Caspian so that they're older, adding the failed attack on Miraz' castle (which takes up a considerable amount of screen time), creating the conflict between Peter and Caspian (in the book they immediately form a friendship), and having the Narnians use what could only be described as dishonorable battle tactics. I think C.S. Lewis would be appalled to see the Pevensies and the Narnians utilizing sneak attacks, back-stabbings, threatening unarmed opponents, and killing their enemies with a gleeful bloodlust. In many ways, the "good guys" are almost as cruel and destructive as the "bad guys".

Although I wish that the film had maintained the childlike simplicity and the charm of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I can still give it a cautious recommendation. Still, I hope that future installments in this series will be lighter in tone and return some of the lost magic to the world of Narnia.

The Narnians and the Pevensies

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June 02, 2010
Absolutely love the books [looking at the whole set on my shelf right now] and also liked the three films [from BBC I think, I have the box set but can't remember who made them]. Any excellent review.
June 02, 2010
Yes, another person who loves the BBC versions!
 
June 20, 2009
I just saw the first film last night. I have to agree with you that the idea of changing something that's crucial to the books is a bad idea, but you have to pander to today's kids and their attitudes; if they see a vulnerable back they would never understand why it wouldn't be stabbed. Sad but true.
 
June 13, 2009
Great review! But this movie isn't really my thing...a bloodless war just makes me irritated. It is darker which I liked, but it all stops short.
June 13, 2009
Well, it should've stopped shorter. After all the book series is for kids and the film goes a different route altogether. My guess: Tolkien envy.
June 13, 2009
never read the books, and I pretty much stay away from kiddie ones. Can't envy it for having some envy :)
June 13, 2009
Chuckles. The Harry Potter series and the Prydain series are better as far as I'm concerned. Still, Tolkien remains the king of the fantast genre and I don't see that changing any time soon.
 
June 10, 2009
Here's my "Prince Caspian" review from last summer. Amazon wouldn't post it for some reason and I had to dig through my notebooks to find it, so sorry about the delay.
June 13, 2009
we forgive you....
June 13, 2009
Forgiveness? That's not like you... you feeling alright?
 
1
More The Chronicles of Narnia: Prin... reviews
review by . January 31, 2010
FAR better then the first film
I still remember all the hype surrounding the first Chronicles of Narnia films, The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Widescreen Edition), and for all that hype, for all that attention it received (due mainly to the success of
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
not my favorite of the chronicles of narnia series, but it was still good
review by . December 27, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
If you liked The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I think you'll love The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Technically, as a piece of cinematography, the latter stands as a marked improvement over Andrew Adamson's first Narnia film. Better acting, better special effects, even better soundtrack. The plot also has more twists and turns, from the raid on the castle to the internecine fighting among the Telmarines.    The Pevensie kids feel more comfortable …
review by . May 31, 2009
Prince Caspian Poster
So far, The Chronicles of Narnia films have kind of been like a hidden gem in a recent line of epic films.  Though The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and its sequel film, Prince Caspian don't match up to such films as the The Lord of the Rings Trilogy or the Harry Potter films.  However, these first two films have brought some fun entertainment and great stories that I loved growing up as a kid.    One year has passed since the four Pevensie children have left the …
review by . January 18, 2009
This 2nd installment in the Narnia movie franchise picks up one year after the end of the first movie; in England time. When our four heroes return to Narnia, it is actually a millenium later. But the ensuing movie is just as exciting as the first one, with even some romance thrown in at the end. Like any good fantasy movies, Prince Caspian has several grand battle scenes, creatures of various species interacting with each other in English, great swordfighting, and some double-crossing, both by …
review by . December 06, 2008
Prince Caspian is the follow-up to the the very popular Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe of the Chronicles of Narnia book series.    Full of battle scenes, some pretty spectacular. Small children may struggle with fearful images. One scene was particularly sad involved several Narnians caught behind enemy lines awaiting death.    As in the first movie loads of creatures make up Narnia's population. All had been living underground since shortly after the kings …
review by . September 08, 2008
I already expected this to be an exciting movie, but I have to tell you that the excitement got so much higher as I watched this movie with my kids. I couldn't believe just how well this movie was, I mean the first Chronicles is a fantastic movie, but this movie takes a few steps ahead. It's definitely more mature, it takes on a lot of battle scenes, like a Lord of the Rings type of battle with a ton of creatures who are fighting for their land back. We have amazing effects, with taking badgers, …
review by . June 05, 2008
"The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian" is the sort of movie that has one group of people it caters to and one it does not. The group the movie does not cater to is the book lovers. These people are the sort of people who read books and complain about the movies for insignificant changes. These are the sort of people who say they would have no problem with the movie if it was under a different title, a logic I've never completely understood, seeing as how book huggers still complain about "The …
review by . May 20, 2008
There are probably two camps who will be interested in this `Narnia' sequel: Those who have read the C.S. Lewis allegorical fantasy series, and those who have not, but loved The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Full Screen Edition).     To be brief, our inquisitive British children return to `Narnia' caught in a time warp that finds it in ruins and its remaining citizens dispirited and scattered. Their enemies, the Telmarines,' have a new heir born …
review by . May 18, 2008
posted in Movie Hype
I've read and heard numerous complaints about "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian." Two of the primary ones are that a) the magic is gone and b) the film is too violent. For those who've actually read the stories that this film and the previous one are based on, this should come as no surprise. "Caspian" is intentionally a darker, more violent and "magic-less" film. It's a story where the children (except young Lucy for the most part) turn away from …
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Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is a story of the Pevensie siblings who are determined toward off an evil king and restore the crown to Prince Caspian.  Directed by Andrew Adamson, this movie was released on May 16, 2008, and was nominated for a MTV Movie Award for the Best Summer Movie So Far and A Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Breakout Movie and Choice Movie: Action Adventure.  The film starred Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Sergio Castellitto, and Peter Dinklage.

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Details

Director: Andrew Adamson
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Family, Fantasy
Release Date: May 16, 2008
Screen Writer: Andrew Adamson
DVD Release Date: December 2, 2008
Runtime: 144 minutes
Studio: Walt Disney Studios, Walden Media, Walt Disney Pictures
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"The Boy Who Would Be King"
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