Friday, June 20, 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia:Prince Caspian

Growing up I absolutely loved the book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The sequels, however, never really appealed to me. I don't think I was ever even able to finish Prince Caspian...and I have read some real garbage. I fought my way through the entire The Circle of Light series under the faint hope it would, at some point, have a payoff. I was wrong, it sucked beginning to end.
Anyhow, when The Chronicles of Narnia:The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) was released I was very excited. That excitement faded an hour into the movie as the realization crept over me; I HATED this movie. It lacked the charm and touch of the book.
As a result when Prince Caspian (2008) rolled into theatres...I didn't. I heard a lot of people who loved it and a few who hated it but it never captured my attention. Amazing what happens when you have a free movie ticket in your pocket that doesn't apply to new releases and have sat in traffic for an hour without accomplishing anything. So off to the Lloyd Cinema I went.

Unlike Lion, Caspian starts out pretty quickly with some action sequences. When a baby boy is born to Lord Protector Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), he orders Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) executed. However, Doctor Cornelius (Vincent Grass) comes to the rescue. In the ensuing chase Caspian encounters Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage) and Trufflehunter the badger.
They save him from the pursuing minions though they argue about what to do; wants to kill Caspian but Trufflehunter wants to help him. Nikabrik (Warwick Davis), the soon to be fallen dwarf, wants to kill him but Trufflehunter wants to help him. Meanwhile, the stereotypical dour, cynical dwarf Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage)

is captured by Miraz's men. Using him as a tool, Miraz goes to start a war with Narnians to commit genocide on them and legitimize his own ascension to the throne. The Pevensie children rescue him and we start to get into the real meat of the movie. Each Pevensie child reveals character flaws.
For High King Peter the Magnificent (William Moseley)
the issue was his self-centeredness and unwillingness to listen to others. His headstrong ways will get numerous members of Narnia slain and lead to great strife between he and Prince Caspian until at last he learns others have valuable advice to administer.
For Susan (Anna Popplewell)
it is her sense of not belonging. She is never comfortable with having contact with other people and does not know what she wants. Her lesson is to gain self-confidence.
Edmund (Skandar Keynes)

is deemed to have learned his lessons in the first movie. Finally, it is left to young Lucy (Georgie Henley) to learn the lesson that if she believes, she must not let others stop her from "coming to Aslan".

Along the way they meet denizens of Narnia, some of whom are there to fill body count roles and some of whom need to learn their own lessons such as Reepicheep (Eddie Izzard)

Reepicheep needs to learn that he does not need to counteract his size with an outside sense of honor.

Unlike the Lion, the battle scenes in Caspian are quite impressive and enjoyable. The story is actually pretty solid with a few surprises. The primary problem it has is...well, frankly, the movie is derivative.

Example: In the climactic battle the river comes into play in a way that had me screaming Fellowship of the Rings: a giant figure forms in the foam of the river and wipes out the bad guys. Griffins carry heroes in ways that were a call back to Return of the King. There was more...but that gives you a rough idea.

There was also, in the interest of full disclosure, a very heavy dose of religious commentary for those alert to it. Peter has come to rely on himself instead of Aslan (a very clear Jesus character). Susan doesn't want to see him (Him?) because she was hesitant to come back to Narnia and does not want to give him credence. Lucy wants him to act as she wants instead of how he sees best and does not go to him because nobody else is going to him. Trumpkin does not believe in him so can not see him. To those not well versed in religious lore it quite possibly passed right over their heads...or perhaps not. I would be interested to hear thoughts on that.

Overall, it was well paced, had interesting and engaging story lines, was well-filmed with gorgeous scenery, and I am disappointed I waited so long to see it.


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Kyle Hill said...

I actually LIKE the later books as the characters have a more
realistic experssion of entering a strange new world...................................especially The Magicians Nephew where he finds this ring that goes to other worlds thru pools.

I forgot how the character got the ring though but I remember the OC goingto other places and almost stayed too longin the world between worlds.

I am sorry that the more fleshed out characters and more dynamic story telling didn't appeal to you but hey: whatever floats your boat. :)

'One man's garbage is another man's treasure.'

Now excuse me while I bodly go where no one has gone before.
*Ensign Set a heading to mark 122.3 Narnia second star to the left instead of right:

Kyle said...

I think Narnia is in the second star to te left instead of right and I am putting my foot down.

*falls thru floor*

Darth Weasel said...

I will say in my defense...I gave it my highest rating, so I liked the was my surprise at liking the movie that led to the long-ish review.

And most of Lewis's work is quite good. I have never figured out why the Narnia series, which is so much in the wheelhouse of my love for fantasy literature, never really appealed to me.

I think I might have been thinking Voiage of the Dawn treader...either that or Caspian was a book that had the tolkien lost in verbiage that slowed the story too much.

But as you say...many people are fans of narnia as evidenced by its continued availability in our dwindling number of book stores. Hope it keeps on sailing