Prince Caspian – Movie Review   2 comments

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

It had been in theaters for a good long while, and I’d started thinking that maybe, perhaps, this would be one of the big summer films that I would miss.  However, on the Sunday before Memorial Day I was lucky enough to get to the movie theater.  And boy was I glad.

Prep Thoughts

Some initial things need to be said.  I’ve been a fan of the Chronicles of Narnia books for most of my life as all seven were read to me by my mother (in addition, she also read the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, the Riftwar Saga, and dozens of other big, thick books.  Quite the feat.  And don’t worry, she also read shorter things, like The Monster at the End of This Book.)  Whenever a movie is based on a book, there are some initial fears about what will be “ruined” and what will be done “right.”  The first movie in this series was enough to dissuade me of any notion that the studio would be tarnishing Lewis’ wonderful books, so going into it was easier than it normally is.

This movie seems to be all-but a guarantee that the movies will be following publication order rather than chronological order, and that’s good news for me.  I know some people prefer to think of “The Magician’s Nephew” as the first book (and that list of people included the author himself while he was alive), but for me The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (LWW for short) will always be the “first” of the series.  And I prefer it to The Magician’s Nephew anyway, so I was glad that they started with LWW.  Had they gone in chronological order, I think that we would’ve had The Horse and His Boy before Prince Caspian, and that’s just way too long to wait for a certain swashbuckling mouse to be introduced.

The Movie Itself

When a sequel is made, comparisons should be made.  The original movie did a good job of moving from exposition to the action pretty well (although, really, LWW continues its expositions almost through to the end, blending it nicely with the story.)  That isn’t quite the case here: a person who missed the first movie might find the call of the Children into Narnia a bit abrupt (and if they thought that was abrupt, I shudder to think of how they’ll see the third movie’s transition to the fantasy world from the “normal” one.)  Once the kids make it into Narnia, however, I would actually argue that this movie tells its story better than LWW.

The other challenge that this movie probably faced was in the villain.  The Telmarines are just normal people, though admittedly well trained and effective at what they do.  It’s harder to see the evil and power in a normal human than it is for us to see the evil and power of The White Witch or Minotaurs or Giants or the many other fantasy creatures who acted as the enemies in the first film.  I personally think that it was pulled off nicely.  The style of helmets worn by the Telmarines, their marching style, and the emphasis on the effectiveness of their war machines made them very distinctive, menacing, and almost mechanically ruthless.  I think the “almost” is important, however; it’s slowly becoming cliché to have humans relying on technology in an attempt to suppress fantasy creatures in modern stories (and fantasy creatures are becoming more and more adept at utilizing robots, ray guns, a high speed vehicles, being apparently much more advanced with their clockwork and steam-based tools than humans were ever capable of acheiving.)  The accents of the Telmarines were also very fitting.  While the books didn’t suggest much in the way of an accent, I thought it was an effective tool for indicating a clear difference between the Telmarines and the Narnians.  It occurs to me now that it might have been an attempt at a visual suggestion of the Spanish Inquisition.  While the methodology and reasoning fall short in such an analogy, the way that the Narnians felt about the Telmarines was probably not too far off in comparison.

One final note regarding this movie and the previous one: in the first movie, when the Peevensies received their weaponry they were clearly just children with weapons.  The first film didn’t try to magically make them adepts at combat, allowing them to be clumsy people who were only just learning the technique.  While people who didn’t watch LWW might find the skill of the children to be a little strange, I think their progress is a nice touch that would’ve been easy to miss (and frankly, it was necessary in this movie for them to be at least adequette warrios given Edmund’s sword fight near the start at the movie and Peter’s near the end.)

In summary, if you can still get to a theater before this leaves then you should do so.  It’s a fun fantasy flick, well-designed, and well executed.

Nitpicking

Now that I’ve lavished the film with praise, it’s time to nitpick.

  • As mentioned before, the movie skimps on exposition at the beginning.  If I’d never read the books or seen the first movie, bringing the Peevensies to Narnia (and their carefree acceptance of the fact that they were back) could’ve been very confusing.  Not that I really have a suggestion that would’ve smoothly made it better, but it was a notable problem in the script’s structure in my opinion.
  • A song played as the children left Narnia at the films end, and it felt very out of place to me.  I may be chided for saying this (my sister and one of her/my friends are fans of the singer) but the song felt out of place.  I was comfortably lost in the world of the movie, but then a clearly modern song began and I was snapped back to reality, and it was a bummer for me.  Nothing against the song or the singer, they were both excellent, but I think they would’ve fit better under the credits (and speaking of credits…)

On a Personal Note…

As the movie ended and the train station of children (who were wearing scarves and uniforms very suggestive of Hogwarts according to my untrained, American eye) faded to the credits, a few surprising (nearly unprecedented) things happened.  You see, I’m one of those people.  I like to watch the credits at the end of movies, and even quietly applaud to myself when a movie ends.  At this movie, not only did nearly the entire audience stick around, but I also heard some other light applause!  (This applause happened once or twice during the movie as well, which I thought was cool.)  To find myself not alone at waiting around in the theater was…well, it rocked.  No other good way to put it.

And then the second unexpected thing happened.  The credits stopped.  They didn’t end, they stopped.  The people in the projection room decided to stop and rewind the movie!  While I was still watching!  While we were still watching!  It was a bit disheartening.

I considered sticking around and complaining but decided not to.  What I gathered from the grumblings of the other movie patrons as we shuffled from the theater into the bright afternoon sunshine was that the movies had been scheduled too closely together, so they needed to end the film early to allow it to start on time.

I can understand little mistakes like that from time to time, so I decided not to let it bug me too much . But still, the one time nearly the entire audience sticks around…meh.  I guess this is just one more reason why I need to buy the DVD when this excellent movie is released.

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2 responses to “Prince Caspian – Movie Review

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  1. I really felt that Prince Caspian, the film, did not engage me. I expected more and it was not as compelling as the first movie.

  2. I’ll agree that the first movie was better in a lot of different ways, and the aesthetics of the first film appealed to me more than here. I still think Prince Caspian was a fine movie, though.

    What more did you expect from it, out of curiosity?

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