‘Prince Caspian’ continues C. S. Lewis film series
For a PG-rated movie, wow – there are some intense scenes here. Nothing too violent, as it’s mainly the computer-generated variety, so why worry? More on that later.
As a general rule, most sequels tend to be of a much darker nature, and “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” is no exception. Other sequels that have followed the dark road include the second “Star Wars” movie, “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Back to the Future II,” and who can forget how dark “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom” was after “Raiders of the Lost Ark” back in 1984?
“Prince Caspian” brings back the Pevensie siblings (Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell) in the second of the trilogy based on the writings of C. S. Lewis. The first installment, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” did quite well at the box office in 2005, and the third movie, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” is due out in 2010. Walt Disney Studios has hit franchise gold here because, theoretically, the studio could have released five more “Narnia” flicks if it were to follow Lewis’ children’s fantasy series, but chronologically it makes more sense to finish the plotline with three.
Andrew Adamson (“Shrek”) once again is at the helm, and even though it’s been only a year since the Pevensie children first left their paradise home of Narnia and returned to school in London during World War II, it’s been 1,300 years in Narnian time. Things have changed dramatically, and not for the better, either. The place is in ruins under the evil Lord Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), who already is plotting to make sure that the rightful heir to the throne will not be Prince Caspian (his nephew, played by Ben Barnes), but his own newborn son.
The Pevensie foursome is accidentally summoned back to Narnia by Prince Caspian, whose life is in danger. Their arrival offers hope for the population of Narnia, including that glorious assortment of creatures and talking animals that made “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” such a delight to watch. Here, they have been banished from the Narnian landscape, including the majestic lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson), who hasn’t been seen in a millennium. And just like the creatures who find refuge in the surrounding forest, Prince Caspian, forced to flee his castle, will return with their assistance and the siblings from their parallel world.
Director Adamson (with help from co-writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely) has taken some artistic liberties with the novel by giving “Prince Caspian” more tension, including some new colorful characters and an assassination attempt on the prince who is next in line for the throne. Hey, it worked for them the first time around. Some purists may find the changes a drastic departure from Lewis’ works, but overall it remains true to the message and works far better in the movie format.
The battle scenes are more intense this time around, and at times seem to last an eternity with all the CGI effects. Of course, it’s no secret how the outcome will play out, and Aslan, as in the first movie, will have you cheering loudly here as well. I want to inject that some of the battle scenes might be a little too tense if you bring the little ones, but overall this is a very good family movie.
“Prince Caspian” in many ways reminds me of the “Harry Potter” series, watching how fast the young cast has matured. It’s really noticeable in Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell), who have grown a lot in a year. It’ll be interesting to see how their characters change in the next adaptation.
– Howie Nave is host/manager of The Improv comedy club inside Harveys and reviews films for seven radio stations throughout Northern California and Nevada, including Sirius Radio. He hosts “Howie’s Morning Rush” on Tahoe’s KRLT radio, and you can see his film reviews on RSN. For past reviews, blogs and audio clips, visit http://www.HowieNave.com.