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The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian /

Rated: PG

Starring: William Mosely, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Ben Barnes

Directed by: Andrew Adamson

Produced by: Andrew Adamson, Mark Johnson, Philip Steuer
Written by: Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Distributor: Buena Vista Pictures

     I watched The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this morning on DVD—it represents that rare mega-Blockbuster that I missed during its run in theatres, likely because I spent hours upon hours shoveling popcorn and sweeping up auditoriums over the holiday-season in which it was released—and found myself genuinely captivated by the movie’s simple command of fantasy. Nevertheless, despite my strong engagement in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I never forgot that I was watching it in preparation for its sequel: Prince Caspian. And, keeping that fact in mind, I began to contemplate just what director Andrew Adamson would be able to do with the second film in the series. I had never gotten around to reading C.S. Lewis’ Prince Caspian during my seven years in elementary school, and its existence left me genuinely perplexed as I considered its potential. After all, its predecessor features a pretty concrete plot: kids find fantasy realm called Narnia, kids save Narnia from destruction by White Witch, kids go back to the real world. What more to the story could there be?

     As it would turn out, Prince Caspian is a complete retread of the first entry in the Chronicles of Narnia series. The only real change made is that the villain now comes in the form of King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), who has taken over Narnia during the hundreds of Narnia-years in which the hero Pevensie children (William Mosely, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, and Georgie Henley) have been whittling away their time on Earth without a clear route back to the fantasy-realm. When the quartet does return, however, it finds itself paired alongside Miraz’ threatened nemesis nephew, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), in attempts to restore the Kingdom to the state that they left it in. Bringing “extinct” Narnians out of hiding to fight Miraz’ dominant army and searching for Aslan, their powerful lion companion from White Witch days, the Pevensies once again find themselves partaking in an epic struggle. Numerous CGI-driven battles ensue.

     Once one realizes that Prince Caspian is, indeed, a near-carbon-copy of its predecessor, the exercise wears thin in no time. Given that the Pevensie children will clearly survive all of the harm that they encounter in Narnia, there is no reason for the viewer to care about the details of their second adventure. Yes, the detailed special effects and sweeping landscapes featured are quite beautiful to stare at and the four young actors once again craft a sympathetic team of heroes. But there remains no substantive reason for Prince Caspian to exist other than studio Disney’s need to sustain high box-office revenues. That the movie runs for a whopping 144-minutes makes it seem all the more unnecessary. However, given that future trips to Narnia are on their way no matter what this film’s final financial take is—the third entry in the series has already begun production with accomplished director Michael Apted at the reigns—I can now only hope that Prince Caspian will simply come to represent a small bump in the road for a better series on the whole. Common consensus is that Lewis’ third novel, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, offers a much more involving story that Apted should have no problem being successfully adapted to the silver-screen. While we filmgoers wait for that motion-picture to surface in 2010, the Pevensie’s current trip to Narnia is best left ignored.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 5.17.2008

Screened on: 5.17.2008 at the Edwards San Marcos 18 in San Marcos, CA.


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