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  • Movie: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
  • Format: Theatrical
  • Starring: Ben Barnes, William Moseley, Georgie Henley, Anna Popplewell, Skander Keynes,
  • Directed By: Andrew Adamson


'Narnia' Loses Its Muster

By Scott Mantz     May 16, 2008

Georgie Henley, William Moseley, Ben Barnes, Anna Popplewell and Skandar Keynes in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA:PRINCE CASPIAN(2008).
© Walt Disney & Walden Media

“Things never happen the same way twice.”

That's what Aslan, the mighty lion king of Narnia, says to Lucy, the youngest of the Pevensie siblings, when they are reunited in Prince Caspian—the second big screen fantasy based on C.S. Lewis' beloved book series, The Chronicles of Narnia. But for better or worse, those words could also apply to the film itself, which falls a bit short of matching the emotional power of its $745 million-grossing predecessor, 2005's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

 That won't stop it from being just as popular, since it reunites many of the players responsible for the huge success of the first film. But where The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe had a faith-driven and spiritual edge that set it apart from the likes of Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, Prince Caspian has a more “routine epic” feel to it, which overshadows the sense of discovery that made the first film so charming, unique and endearing.
When the Pevensie children—Lucy (Georgie Henley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Peter (William Moseley)—return to Narnia, they find a world more savage from the one they left behind. Aslan hasn't been seen in more than a thousand years, and the land's mythical creatures are on the verge of extinction. Only one person can restore order to the kingdom—Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), the rightful heir who must lead the Narnians on a brave quest to fight back against the merciless Lord Miraz (Sergio Castellitto).

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe may have been based on a children's book and told through the eyes of a child—specifically, young Lucy Pevensie—but it was still a periodically violent fantasy that was filled with biblical allegories. The returning filmmakers—director Andrew Adamson (Shrek, Shrek 2) and screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely—take Prince Caspian into much darker territory, but at least it makes sense, since the kids are a little older and more mature this time around.

But like the book it's based on, the story lacks a driving narrative, and the characters aren't as fully defined as they were before. As the Pevensies came of age in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, they each learned some powerful lessons—especially Edmond, who almost betrayed his siblings. They're all on the same page this time around, and that reduces the level of tension within the film. It doesn't help that Prince Caspian never grows into a fully commanding figure, while the evil King Miraz isn't nearly as menacing as the White Witch played by Tilda Swinton.

It's still a very entertaining film, although newcomers would be wise to check out “Wardrobe” if they want to better understand “Caspian.” And even though it isn't as rewarding as its predecessor, it still stands out from other recent fantasies like Stardust, The Golden Compass and The Spiderwick Chronicles. As Aslan himself said, things may never happen the same way twice, but at least there's hope for the third film, which might be the charm.


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laforcer69@yahoo.com_home 5/16/2008 1:55:24 AM
I would have liked the first one had it not been for that cheesy ass sword fight between the oldest kid and the White witch at the end battle there...I have only seen the first one once and that was at the theaters, not much interested in seeing it again but I will go and see this even though I have negative feelings about the first, so here is hoping for the best...
LittleNell1824 5/16/2008 5:51:11 AM
I hope the franchise survives past this one. Prince Caspian was my least favorite of the books. I loved the Dawn Treader and the Silver Chair, which would be next in the series. Both feature Eustace, and the last features Jill Pole. Eustace and Jill just seemed so real to me when I was a kid - much more 3 dimensional than the Pevensie children.
Jaysaw 5/16/2008 9:26:40 AM
I've heard from a few folks that there is a definitely darker edge to this one and that dyed in the wool fantasy fans will like it more than part 1...
momitchell7 5/16/2008 10:37:40 AM
Jaysaw...I was fortunate to have seen a premiere of this on Tuesday and you're absolutely right - it is much darker and much more action filled. The sets, special FX and characters were all much bigger and better than the first film IMO.<br /> I took my 6 year old daughter and she loved it too, so I think it's great that it's a movie everyone can enjoy together.<br /> Everybody will enjoy this movie...
zack2366 5/16/2008 11:00:35 AM
scytheofluna 5/16/2008 11:13:40 AM
This is a far more negative take than most reviews I've seen. In my opinion the spiritual aspects of The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe were it's only weakness as opposed to being a strength. (For the record this is an opinion shared by C.S. Lewis' friend J.R.R. Tolkien in regard to the film's literary counterpart). Prince Caspian looks great. I too look forward to The Silver Chair, and Dawn Treader, and I hope they eventually make it to The Horse and his boy and the Magician's Nephew since that's the first book chronologically.
fallensbane@yahoo.com_home 5/16/2008 11:35:01 AM
Just another bad Mania review I guess. Friends who have seen this already today (Damn me and work!) have said they loved it. All the reviews I have read this far are saying its at least as good if not better than the first. So yes, I will be seeing this movie tonight and likely enjoying myself immensely during it.
Wiseguy 5/16/2008 11:58:57 AM
Prediction--80 mil. IM--30 mil<BR /><BR />Just saw it and agree that it isn't as good as the first. I actually feel that the first had more of a sense of doom and more action than this one for me. Being "darker" I guess is because of all the bloodless killing, mostly humans, but the first had more of a sense of peril with Aslan sacrificing himself and Edmund's betrayal and Tilda Swinton as the White Witch who is a much better villain than the one we're offered here. Plus didn't like several things that seemed to have been copied directly from the LOTR <A class=iAs style="FONT-WEIGHT: normal! important; FONT-SIZE: 100%! important; PADDING-BOTTOM: 1px! important; COLOR: darkgreen! important; BORDER-BOTTOM: darkgreen 0.07em solid; BACKGROUND-COLOR: transparent! important; TEXT-DECORATION: underline! important" href="#" target=_blank itxtdid="5593740">movies</A>. It's still worth the price of admission, not saying that it was bad either, just not as good IMHO. <BR /><BR />And the religious undertones are more prevalent in this too I think. So those of you who get your panties tied in a knot over anything religious may want to steer clear or just get over it and enjoy the film. I wonder if Shrek got its premise from this book.
almostunbiased 5/16/2008 2:20:39 PM
There is a reason why The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the best known of the stories. It's the best of the stories. So I don't expect this to be as good. But I do expect to be entertained. Hell it's just a fantasy story. I don't look for it to be an oscar contender, I just want a fun movie. I'll be seeing it tomorrow with my kids.
redhairs99 5/16/2008 3:11:16 PM
Just saw the film, and taken strictly as from a film goer stand-point it was pretty good. However, taken as a fan of the first film, this one fell a bit short of my expectations. Of course, I've never been that big on the rest of the Narnia books. Don't get me wrong, they are decent books, but The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is heads above the rest. I do agree with the reviewer that this film seemed to lack any true driection and the sense of peril just wasn't there. I didn't think the CG was quite as good as the first film either. I know this all sounds negative, but like I started with this post, it was a good film, just a bit disappointing from a fantasy genre fan p.o.v. I did also pick up on the LOTR references, and I did think the religious allegories were less obvious than in the first film
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