Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

This review will actually be a composite of my own opinions and those of the people I saw it with. After we watched it, we engaged in a fairly lengthy critique- so you're getting the best of both worlds here. After deliberation we were in agreement about the movie's mediocrity. It had some good moments, but on a whole much left to be desired character and plot wise.

This time out we find Narnia hundreds of years older than we left it, while only a year has passed in our world. Humans have driven the native Narnians deep into the woods and on the brink of extinction. The titular Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) the heir to the human throne is being threatened by his ambitious uncle, Miraz (Sergio Castellitto). Caspian flees into the woods only to be captured and taken in by the few remaining Narnians. Upon blowing a horn, our heroes from the first installment return. Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skander Keynes), and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are once again needed to reunite Narnia, and defeat the forces of evil by returning Prince Caspian to the throne.

The plot seemed to work okay. There was nothing really inspired about it, but for a typical epic mythical movie, it fit the mold. The biggest problem came with the characters- specifically that of Prince Caspian. I'm going to try to not give anything away, suffice it to say that he did not earn his return to power. He is supposed to go through some profound change and rise to be a hero. Unfortunately, this never really happened. This left the character tasting very bad to me, and I never actually wanted him to be returned the throne.

The four Pevensies, on the other hand, were as good as I remember from the first one. They each embodied their unique character traits that made them truly individuals. Peter was the natural leader, but still had to struggle with the corrupting temptations of power. Susan- perhaps the most straight laced honorable of the batch dealt with her obvious yet unexplained romantic interest with Caspian. Edmund spent the movie trying to live up to his brother's shadow. And Lucy has the innocent and unyielding faith in Aslan the lion. These four characters are great, and unlike Caspian, their actions make sense and seem motivated.

The other aspect of the movie that bothered us was the lack of exposition. The Narnians go from wanting to kill Caspian to pledging their lives to him all within a minute of screen time. Or where and what Aslan has been doing for the past several hundred years, and why he insisted on returning the way her did (I won't give away anything). Honestly, that part made me angry at him. Finally, as minor as this sounds, the song they put at the end almost ruined the conclusion of the movie for me. The Golden Compass did this as well. I abhor it when movies have pop songs at the end of a wonderful score- especially in movies like this. When will they learn that it just doesn't work?

I was a fan of the first movie, and this was just a letdown. Something I didn't talk about before was how it looked. The animal animation and the visual effects were done very well. The battle sequences were exciting and entertaining. None of this really matters, though, if the story and character development just isn't there.


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