Monday, May 26, 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, (Adamson, 2008)

One of the best things about this movie remains what was best about its predecessor (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) - the four actors* who play the Pevensie children when they are playing children. Even though some of the dialog has been so modernized that you expect them to say things like 'Bite me', they play against and off each other as if they are real-life siblings. Less successful is when they take up their roles as the Kings and Queens of Narnia though we might be able to blame the source material for this. As book four** in the seven-volume saga, PC is another thinly-disguised allegory that desperately needs covering up.

The good news is we get less of the pontificating Aslan (Liam Neeson, voice) in this one, the bad news is that we don't get enough of Queen Jadis, the White Witch (Tilda Swinton). Instead our villains are the Telmarines, portrayed here as a Balkan people (somewhat confusingly, as in the book and here, they are said to be descended from pirates from the South Seas) who fall through a gap between our world and the land of Narnia. They are led by the Lord Protector, Miraz, (Sergio Casttellitto) who having killed his brother, King Caspian IX, is about to do the same for his nephew, also named Caspian (Ben Barnes).

The young prince escapes taking with him a magic horn with which he summons the help of the four Kings and Queens of the ancient realm of Narnia, long since under the thrall of the Telmarines. The horn does indeed summon the four Pevensie children though it is over 1000 years since their rule. Not only that but they come back to Narnia only a year older than their first visit.

Like its predecessor too, at its heart is a battle: here, the confrontation of the vastly superior Telmarine forces and the Narnian army. It does not seem long ago that we were treated to the novelty of CGI-created battle scenes; now, they are beginning to get old very quickly. Note to director: the beaver is better this time but the mouse is far, far too cute even for C.S. Lewis.

*William Moseley (as Peter); Anna Popplewell (as Susan); Skandar Keynes (as Edmund); Georgie Henley (as Lucy)

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is a matinee.

** Prince Caspian was the second of the Narnia books to be published but fourth chronologically. TLTL&TW was the first to be published but the second chronologically. There is still disagreement among readers and publishers as to a 'correct' order to read the books as Lewis did not set out to write a seven-volume series. He has been quoted as agreeing with those that think the books should be read chronologically but there are others who claim that this destroys the narrative sequence of the books.

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