-This review pertains to the original DVD release, not the remastered edition-
In 1989, the BBC produced the second and third films in their four-film series adapted from the books The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. For the most part, these films serve as faithful representations of the classic children's stories despite their miniscule budgets. The films lack the elaborate special effects of later fantasy films, but this is a very minor complaint. The series, which first aired in America as part of the WonderWorks television program on PBS, has become a fondly remembered family favorite.
Prince Caspian One year has passed for Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy since their adventures in Narnia. While waiting for their train to arrive at the station, the four children begin to feel strangely, as though they were being beckoned to some other world. They find that they've been magically transported back to Narnia and in their absence a thousand years has passed in Narnia. Their castle lay in ruins and all those that they knew are long gone. The children come across their old Narnian possessions and then journey out into the vast forests, hoping to discover the reason for their being summoned. As they pass the river, they rescue a curmudgeonly dwarf named Trumpkin, from being drowned by villainous soldiers. Trumpkin explains that young Prince Caspian has summoned them to help him reclaim his throne from his wicked uncle, King Miraz, who killed Caspian's father and usurped his throne. Trumpkin leads the children to the hiding place of Prince Caspian and the small army of creatures that remain loyal to the young prince. The Children and the Narnians prepare for battle and arrange a duel between Peter and Miraz, and to the victor goes the throne. With the help of many creatures and talking beasts, including the brave and noble mouse Reepicheep, the Narnians defeat King Miraz and restore Caspian to the throne. But the victory is bittersweet for Peter and Susan are told that they will never return to Narnia again.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader After Edmund, Lucy, and their obnoxious cousin Eustace are pulled through a painting of a ship and land in the Narnian sea (this occurred in the last few moments of Prince Caspian), they are rescued by King Caspian who is on a voyage. King Caspian's mission is to discover the fate of seven noble Narnian lords who were sent into exile by Caspian's evil uncle, Miraz. Edmund and Lucy are thrilled to be reunited with Caspian, as well as the courageous swashbuckling mouse, Reepicheep. Eustace, on the other hand, does nothing but complain and instigate conflict with members of the ship's crew. On the first island that they reach, Caspian, Edmund, Lucy, Eustace, and Reepicheep are taken captive by a group of uncouth slave traders. The traders sell Caspian to a nobleman, who is revealed to be Lord Bern, one of the seven missing lords. With Lord Bern's help Caspian rescues his friends from the slave market and abolishes the slave trade. Shortly after leaving the island, they weather a terrible storm only to have the wind die down completely, leaving them drifting in the middle of the sea. As their rations dissipate and hope of reaching an island before they starve fades, a great wind carries them a great distance and they reach another island. While everyone else searches the island for provisions, Eustace, unsurprisingly too lazy to help in any way, wanders off to avoid work. He falls asleep in a cave, which turns out to be the lair of a dragon, and when Eustace awakens he's stunned by the realization that he's become a dragon himself. After using his newfound strength and his ability to fly to aid Caspian and the crew, Aslan shows Eustace mercy and transforms him back into a human child. The crew discovers that the Lord Octesian perished on the island, either devoured by a dragon or having turned into one long ago. They leave the island behind and continue their journey to find the five remaining lords, but Eustace is far more pleasant company than before. One night a giant serpent attacks the ship, but thanks to Reepicheep's quick thinking no one is hurt. The next island they arrive at is enchanted and the water turns everything that it touches into gold. Edmund and Caspian are momentarily consumed by greed before discovering that the water claims the lives of anyone who bathes in it. They find the third Narnian lord turned into a golden statue and abruptly leave the accursed island behind. After that they beach on an island inhabited by strange invisible creatures that want Lucy to help them become visible again. She must find a magician's spellbook and break the enchantment. After doing this she meets Coriakin, the venerable magician, who turns out to be a jovial wizard and he helps the crew repair the damage done to the ship by the sea serpent. Caspian and the others depart Coriakin's island and continue their voyage further into uncharted waters. Then they reach a deep impenetrable fog-enshrouded island where nightmares become a living reality. The crew barely escapes with their sanity intact and having rescued Lord Rhoop, whose mind is exhausted from years of living in abject terror. Next they reach an island where a banquet table awaits them... with the three remaining lords sitting there fast asleep. Fearful of a dark enchantment, no one dares to eat from the table, but then a beautiful princess tells them that the table was put their to reward travelers with the courage to have sailed so far. Caspian, determined to revive the three sleeping lords, asks the princess how he might restore them. They are informed that they must travel to the ends of the Earth and there leave behind a member of their party. The princess introduces them to her father, Ramandu, a retired star. But the question remains: who shall be left at the world's end?
Both films, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, feature a talented cast (mostly of unknowns) including Richard Dempsey as Peter, Sophie Cook as Susan, Jonathan R. Scott as Edmund, Sophie Wilcox as Lucy, Jean Marc Perret as Prince Caspian, Robert Lang as King Miraz, Big Mick as Trumpkin, Warwick Davis as Reepicheep, David Thwaites as Eustace, Samuel West as King Caspian, Preston Lockwood as Coriakin, Gabrielle Anwar as The Princess, Geoffrey Bayldon as Ramandu, and Ronald Pickup as the voice of Aslan. Of the cast, Warwick Davis as Reepicheep is delightful, and David Thwaites is wonderful as the appropriately irritating Eustace.
Both of these classic BBC productions are sure to cast a spell on your family.
The DVD also includes a still gallery and an animated trivia challenge. All three DVDs containing the four Narnia films can be found together in a moneysaving box set, which includes beautiful artwork on the packaging. Also available is a newly remastered box set.
Prince Caspianand The Voyage of the Dawn Treader were shown on BBC television in 1989. Originally aired as two separate series, it has been edited into one series for VHS and DVD home video release. It was the second series of the Narnia quartet adaptation that ran from 1988 to 1990. and