Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)

Narnia Nostalgia

- I am a fan of the first Chronicles of Narnia film (The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe in 2005), it is a great fantasy adventure, well performed by all the actors involved, and is a great allegory for Christianity. However, I found myself not enjoying the second installment of the Narnia franchise, 2008's Prince Caspian, as I felt it to be little more than a walk down Narnia nostalgia lane full of predicable outcomes and sub-par performances.

After the events of the last Narnia film, the four Pevensie children are whisked away back to Narnia after having been living in their own World War II era London for a year or so. It turns out that Narnia has changed a lot since they left; hundreds of years have passed since they were last there and the evil Telmarines have control of most of the land. So with Prince Caspian and a bunch of other Narnia creatures, the kids lead the fight to save Narnia…. again.

Unlike the last Narnia film, Prince Caspian has little in the way of substance. Much of the film discusses what happened during the kid's last trip to Narnia and follows the kids as they revisit old familiar sites from the that time. Well, that was not all that fun walking down memory lane; it has little - if anything - to do with the current film! Why not just focus on the here and now of Prince Caspian rather than the then and was of The Lion, the Witch And The Wardrobe? Come on, if I wanted to revisit the events of the first film, I would just go watch the first film. Then we have old vehicles that come back into play in this film that already feel overdone in only the second film of the series. One particular example of this is the Trumpkin dwarf character that Lucy develops a pet-like affection for - basically doubling for the long gone Mr. Tumnus.

Naturally, this Narnia film includes plenty of action scenes. However, outside of a couple of instances, the film's fight scenes are of little difference to those seen in first Narnia film. One would think that the filmmakers would have tried to make the fight scenes look different from the last film, to make the sequel a unique addition to the franchise - but, alas, they did not. Also, we have seen the vast majority of the film's scenes done better before in other films - particularly in The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy but others as well. Now, I have not read the C.S. Lewis' original novel, but I am sure that attacking trees, horse chases, and a river that comes alive are all in the book. However, it is also old cinematic news and is done far better in The Lord Of The Rings.

All of the members of the film's cast showed up for work but most failed to produce impressive performances. Narnia newcomer Ben Barnes plays Prince Caspian and while I would not say that he gives a horrible performance; he definitely has plenty of weak moments and instances of extreme overacting. On top of that, he is not exactly a great action star - sure, he is a couple of steps ahead of Hayden Christensen but is still a few steps behind Keira Knightley. Also, for some reason everybody playing a Telmarine gives a bad performance - Sergio Castellitto especially gives a terrible performance as the bad guy King Miraz. Half of the actors playing the Pevensie kids do not give very good performances either: William Moseley is unconvincing in this film as Peter, a teenager who is apparently gathering up a high body count against full-grown soldiers, and Anna Popplewell's portrayal of Susan just grates on the nerves.

Still, the film is not entirely bad - the other half of the kid cast is good: Skandar Keynes is real good as Edmund, he seems to be outgrowing his on-screen siblings, and Georgie Henley of course hams it up as Lucy. The special effects found in the film are of course top-notch with great CGI action and animals - I especially liked the "mice"keteers. Just like the first Narnia movie, Harry Gregson-Williams writes a good score that is a great contribution to the film. Gregson-Williams seems to be one of the best up-and-coming film composers, and while his score for Prince Caspian is not his best, it is his biggest. He also seems to be developing an individual and recognizable sound as you can hear flashes of Seraphim Falls (2007) here and there in the film. I also will say, despite my dislike for the film's walk down Narnia nostalgia lane, I did enjoy Tilda Swinton's cameo as the White Witch and Liam Neeson again does a great job voicing Aslan.

Still, the positive aspects of The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian are dwarfed by the negative ones - and yes, pun intended.

CBC Rating: 5/10

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