The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
DIRECTED BY Andrew Adamson
PRODUCED BY Walt Disney Pictures, 2008
Rated: Rated PG for action violence, battle scenes. Not suitable for young children.
One year has passed since the Pevensie children discovered the secret world of Narnia in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and it is clear that the children have had a difficult time readjusting to life as English schoolchildren. Who can blame them? To go from being kings and queens of an entire nation to getting picked on by the class bully is certainly a special brand of humiliation. Their other-worldly experiences have left them feeling out of place and disconnected.
Back in Narnia, 1300 years have passed since Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy ruled the Kingdom, and nothing is as it once was. A people called the Telmarines have since taken over, forcing the non-human residents of Narnia into near extinction and hiding. Prince Caspian (stage actor Ben Barnes) is almost assassinated by his uncle Miraz, whose wife has just given birth to a son, a would-be successor to Prince Caspian. Forced to flee for his life from the palace, Caspian brings with him a horn, thought to be able to summon the mythical ancient kings and queens of Narnia in time of need.
Indeed, the legend proves true, and the Pevensies find themselves in Narnia, unaware of the time that had passed and the events that had changed the course of history for Narnians and Telmarines alike. Fans of the first film will notice the changes that have taken place within the characters of the Pevensie children themselves. They are wiser and more astute. Importantly though, they are still obviously very young and the overall sense is that they have not yet reached their full potential, in spite of having lived as rulers of a kingdom. Even Caspian is surprised when he meets them, surely expecting older royals to come to the rescue of their people. Caspian quickly realizes that the only way to regain his kingdom is to fight, alongside the Narnians, in a violent battle for justice.
As Peter and Caspian constantly clash for control, Lucy can't help but wonder where Aslan has been all this time, and why he did not fight to stop the slaying of the Narnians, as in the last film. In a dream, Aslan tells Lucy that "nothing happens the same way twice." The film effectively conveys the Messianic consciousness so prevalent in the books. It does not shy away from addressing Caspian's struggles to come to terms with the truth about his people's history, and Peter's own struggle with his pride. Lucy is still the constant here, steadfast in her belief that Aslan will not abandon them.
Andrew Adamson, who also directed The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Shrek and Shrek2 deftly handles the issue of battle scene action in Prince Caspian. He demonstrates a respect for his audience's more delicate sensibilities towards action violence (this is a Disney production, after all), and though there is many an untimely death in this 140 minute movie, none of them is particularly gory. Young and old will appreciate the rapid pace at which the plot moves along, and adults in particular will enjoy revisiting old friends like Reepicheep the mouse and Trumpkin the dwarf, and the breathtaking scenery (shot mainly in New Zealand).
The Christian symbolism present in the books has not been removed from this second film. Neither forced nor overbearing, Prince Caspian remains a story about facing seemingly insurmountable odds with a strength that can only be borne out of great faith, hope and love.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is a shining example of how magical it can be when a fantasy fiction series is successfully adapted to the big screen. Prince Caspian is a visually enthralling, entertaining and unpretentiously meaningful film, along the lines of The Knights of the Round Table and The Lord of the Rings. If Walden Media and Michael Apted (director for the third film, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) stay the course, The Chronicles of Narnia may prove to be one of the most high-quality film franchises in Hollywood history. C.S. Lewis would be proud.
Carla Lopez studies film and music at York University in Toronto.
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|Article Type:||Movie review|
|Date:||Jun 1, 2008|
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