|The Chronicles of Narnia:
by: Andrew Adamson
Starring: Liam Neeson, Tilda Swinton, Eddie Izzard, Peter Dinklage, Ben Barnes
Released by: Walt Disney Pictures
Short: High on flash, but low on substance, "Prince Caspian" is a watered down return to Narnia for only the most loyal of fans.
In Need of Witches and Wardrobes
A Return to Narnia
Though they once held a near monopoly on cinematic (or at least animated) adaptations of classic fairytales, in recent years Disney has watched as other studios make a killing on fantasy-franchise cash cows like "Harry Potter" and "The Lord of the Rings." Eventually, opportunity came knocking in the form of the "Chronicles of Narnia" books; the first cinematic adaptation of which pulled in nearly 750 million dollars worldwide, while the second—Prince Caspian—will be watched as a harbinger of the franchise’s long term viability.
"Prince Caspian" reunites the Pevensie siblings with the magical land they helped liberate in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." though hundreds of years have since passed, and the world’s mystical inhabitants have gone into hiding. The children are inadvertently drawn back to Narnia by the titular prince, who forms an alliance with both the children and original Narnians in the hopes of defeating his treacherous, power-hungry uncle. This is followed by lots of flashy battle sequences of humans and CGI beasties trotting around castle courtyards and giant fields.
Unfortunately, there aren’t many highlights to report in this artificially operatic film, which is almost uncomfortably violent at times for a movie aimed at children. And speaking of the children, their acting has only marginally improved since their first appearance. In the plus column however, Caspian himself does possess a modicum of euro trash charm, and Eddie Izzard easily stands out as the swash-buckling mouse, Reepicheep.
One thing sorely missed from the first film is the icy, malevolent presence of Tilda Swinton as the White Witch (though she makes a brief cameo), especially given the banal antagonist she’s replaced with. What does make a return are the strong Christian overtones audiences typically find either comforting or off-putting, though they don’t become overt until Aslan the lion appears at the film’s conclusion. If you count yourself among those true devotees who will wait breathlessly for him to show up, you’re one of the few to whom this film is ultimately worth recommending.
Text by Matt Kane