Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian: FOR ASLAAAAN!!

by

My love for fantasy has been well-documented. So of course I went and saw Prince Caspian. I went and saw The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, too! And I wasn’t sure what to make of that one. It hit all the beats of the book, which I appreciated (I became a big Narnia fan in 4th grade), but something was amiss. It just looked so… fake. So cheap. The actual CG was decent (impressive, even). But Narnia just didn’t feel like a real place. Granted, WETA took things a few (thousand) steps above those stupid BBC movies, but Narnia still looked like a soundstage covered in soap flakes half the time. And the child actors could be so wooden. The ones playing Lucy and Edmund were well enough to make do with, but Peter and Susan had approximately zero personality. Almost any scene with all four of them trying to act like a family was like a charisma vacuum. But it had a fantastic villain in the White Witch, played to the nines by the inimitable Academy Award-winner Tilda Swinton. It entertained juuuust enough to make me forgive the fact that the story is such an obvious metaphor for Jesus’ resurrection. And the fact that Santa fucking Claus shows up. So how does the sequel stack up?

I SURE HOPE SOMEONE'S CHRONICLING THIS

Prince Caspian doesn’t waste any time getting to the good stuff this time. After a mysteriously majestic Disney logo sequence, the movie opens up on a screaming lady giving birth in a castle. The baby pops out and it’s a boy! Congratulations!… Unless you’re Prince Caspian. His fat, hairy professor sneaks into his room at night (which doesn’t seem to bother Caspian, interestingly enough) to warn him that his uncle Lord Miraz has been given a son and he should escape, pronto. Caspian goes along with this and they escape through a secret passage in a wardrobe (HA!) just in the nick of time to see a bunch of soldiers creep into his room and pelt his bed with arrows. They escape to the stables where the tutor gives Caspian a horse and a special item that he must only use as a last resort. They exchange a meaningful farewell and Caspian escapes from the castle as fireworks go off celebrating the birth of Miraz’s son.

It’s a ton of exposition to get out of the way and they still aren’t done as the credits start rolling. Caspian escapes to the forest (which seems to hold a superstitious danger for the soldiers) and he unfortunately gets hit by a branch and knocked off the horse. The noise causes two dwarves (!) to come out of a nearby tree. They panic and decide to kill him. The soldiers are closing in on him and the dwarves are almost upon him, so Caspian reaches for the last resort, a horn, and gives it a toot.

SUDDENLY IT’S ENGLAND CIRCA WWII. We rejoin Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Potter Pevensie as they are adjusting (poorly) to life in their own world a year after exiting Narnia. Peter’s getting into fights, Susan’s a bubbling cauldron of womanly hormones and the other two who cares. They’re about to board the subway when they feel a pull and via a pretty awesome sequence they’re transported back to New Zealand Narnia! There they discover (after an intrusive musical cue) that it’s been 1300 years since they went missing in Narnia and in the meantime, the country’s been brutally invaded by their Western neighbors, the Telmarines, and they mounted a campaign to eradicate the Narnians that was so successful that Narnians are just legends to them now. As the Pevensies learn pretty soon, though, the Narnians aren’t dead, just underground, and they rescue the grumpy dwarf Trumpkin. The rest of the movie goes on to unite them with Caspian in a rebellion against the Telmarines and the evil King Miraz to free Narnia and restore Caspian to the throne.

NARNIAAAAAA, FUCK YEAH

That’s a LOT of story. And still the movie cut things out of the screenplay that were in the book. Unfortunately, a lot of that was stuff that actually built up Caspian as an actual character rather than the heartthrob high school girls can pin up in their lockers. Prince Caspian is SUPPOSED to be a huge, major character (the book’s titled after him, after all) but in the movie he’s just sort of an also-ran. I understand they have an already established cast of protagonists to manage with all four Pevensie children, but Caspian just sort of gets relegated to the sidelines for most of the picture. There’s some drama that happens when he learns Miraz killed his father, but that’s about the extent of it.

And I sort of have issues with the “lesson” that this story’s supposed to teach us. Aslan’s disappeared from Narnia for centuries so everyone assumes he’s abandoned them, but Lucy starts seeing him pop up as the story goes on. He doesn’t stick around, though, so no one believes her until the end when she goes on a cockamamie mission by herself that isn’t really explained and poof! There he is! His excuse for not showing himself in the first place is that he did that in the first story and “Things never happen the same way twice.” Um? Is that the best you can do, Jesus Aslan? I’d be pretty damn pissed at him if I was Lucy, but she just sort of blithely accepts it. She even defends him against the others, saying that instead of Aslan having to prove himself to them, maybe they need to prove themselves to Aslan. Look, I get the whole Christian angle to this. This is supposed to be about Jesus after the resurrection and how people kept asking him to come storming in and fix their lives when in reality Jesus helps those that have faith in him or whatever. But we all know that the real reason Aslan doesn’t help them until the end is because if he didn’t, the story would be over five minutes after they set foot in Narnia. And that point with Aslan is sort of the sticking point of his character. Either you admire and respect his resemblence to Christ and the whole moralizing, righteous slant that brings or it drives you insane. I’m somewhere in the middle.

But aside from those flaws, Prince Caspian works as a summer movie. It’s got way more action than The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and better action. It’s surprising (and a bit disturbing?) how much carnage these kids unleash upon the the Telmarines without a single drop of blood. And the climactic duel between Peter and Miraz is shockingly visceral and brutal for a modern kids’ movie, too. If they’d gone for any kind of realistic level of gore in this picture, it easily would’ve broke into the PG-13 range. The way this movie behaves, it feel very close to The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. Lots of speeches and battles and “Why do we fight?” ramblings. The special effects are way better than the first movie and since everything isn’t covered in silly fake snow, things are much easier to take seriously. Aside from Gollum, I think WETA shines more at practical special effects rather than CG blitzes, although this movie handles those well enough, too. (Aslan vs. Gollum, who’d win?!) Although a couple of the special effects WILL make you point at the screen and go “LORD OF THE RINGS!!” because of how they just blatantly echo their counterparts.

Let me get the BAD acting out of the way. Ben Barnes must be great on the casting couch because why ELSE would anyone give him the title role in a summer tentpole film? He’s pretty; that’s it. And when he’s not standing around being nigh-useless he’s speaking with a ridiculous accent. (All the Telmarines have luxurious generic Romance language accents.) He’s just a bad actor. Pure and simple. Peter’s actor has somewhat improved since the last film. At least he’s not dull. Now he’s actually sort of obnoxious. He picks fights with EVERYONE and makes HORRIBLE decisions and his one redeeming trait is that he has a really awesome sword fight at the end. And his acting is mehhh. He doesn’t seem to have any other faces when he tries to express emotion. He’ll be trying to be angry and he looks the same as he always does. Susan’s actress is actually a DECENT actress but Susan doesn’t have too much to do besides shoot arrows and lust after Ben Barnes. Edmund might as well be invisible but he has a few good moments. It just feels like he doesn’t fit the goody-goody character anymore. A lot of the lines he delivers with something attempting sincerity, but it just feels hollow. He was a much better fit for the edgier, brattier Edmund of the first film. Lucy, amazingly, is the best actor of the lot. She seems like she could grow into a good child actress with a bit more experience. The actress from The Golden Compass still wipes the floor with the lot of them, though.

You bow to no one~

The REALLY great acting in this film, though, comes from the supporting cast. Peter Dinklage is PERFECT as the dwarf Trumpkin. He brings the sort of deadpan sarcastic wit that I love and the bit of salt that a wholesome movie like Prince Caspian needed. I’ll be keeping my eye on him in the future~~~. Eddie Izzard gives a fine bravado as proud mouse warrior Reepicheep, and I’m glad, since we’d have to put up with him for another movie (AND BEN BARNES |:c). Tilda Swinton returns as the White Witch and for the few minutes she’s on screen, she reminds you why the villains in this movie suck compared to her. And of course Liam Neeson rocks out Aslan. He’s got some sort of degree in paternal wisdom ever since Star Wars Episode I.

Whenever Prince Caspian shows its true colors as a great summer flick to fill the fantasy void in your heart, it soars. The attack on Miraz’ castle and the battle at the end are pretty well done and exciting. Whenever the movie tries to rely on the acting skills of its lead characters, it stumbles. There’s one scene where Peter starts to tear his shirt to light a torch, but Edmund pipes up that he has a flashlight. And they all stand there giggling for like 20 seconds and it’s awkward and they don’t feel like a family at all. Thankfully there’s enough sarcastic dwarves and pithy mice and retarded bears (?!) to make up for all the stillborn attempts at character development. Go into Prince Caspian ready to see some spectacles and to go on a rollicking fantasy ride and you should do okay. Expecting the Second Coming of Lord of the Rings (or Aslan, even) is a bit much.

Oh ASLAN, here we go agaaaaaain!

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9 Responses to “Chronicles of Narnia – Prince Caspian: FOR ASLAAAAN!!”

  1. Brian B Says:

    I suppose you do have a point in that this movie does fill the fantasy void in people’s hearts this summer.

    Problem was I didn’t have such a void.

    >:[

  2. Denethor Says:

    Nice review. I wanted to see it when it came out at our bargain bin theater. Think i will. :3

  3. Marc M Says:

    I enjoyed that retarded Bear.

  4. John Mora Says:

    So did I. He was the Old Gay Butler of Narnia. ;3

  5. Film Walrus Says:

    Loved the technolust link. Katie’s love of that movie is beyond… healthy. I am impressed by how Tilda Swinton rocks in just about every role.

  6. AmericanDreamer Says:

    You seem rather opinionated on this topic. To be honest, I thought Narnia was a great movie. It had action, some slight romance, humor, and suspense. A well rounded movie. Not to mention, good graphics.
    I didn’t like the Golden Compass comparison, which was a movie I didn’t like, (and just a side note, the author wrote it to be anti- Narnia) so I was kind of wondering, why mention a movie like that in a Narnia review? Not to mention, the acting was not the great. The graphics were impressive, and pretty cool, but the story line and acting I didn’t like.
    You slammed Christianity pretty hard in the review. The movie wasn’t made to convert you; the movie was made to give you a good fantasy story. You didn’t have to believe the Christian elements, nor mention them in a review. CS Lewis was a born again Christian, so in the second book, Aslan has been gone for a long time, which means the Narnians should go off faith and realize He is there, even though you can’t see him. Trusting in the invisible God was the “moral” of that story. Honestly, Christianity is not perfect, and anyone who says so is a liar. Jesus was perfect, but Christians aren’t. That’s why they need Jesus.
    Sorry for the Sunday school lecture, but your review needed some correcting and explaining. Thanks for reading this through, and I don’t even expect you to agree with me. But people need to know that maybe there was more to the story than appeared, and a second view can sometimes give better insight.
    -American Dreamer

  7. John Mora Says:

    “You seem rather opinionated on this topic.”

    You don’t say. Maybe you should read our credo: https://grumpfactory.wordpress.com/2007/04/20/flipping-the-switch/

    “I didn’t like the Golden Compass comparison, which was a movie I didn’t like, (and just a side note, the author wrote it to be anti- Narnia) so I was kind of wondering, why mention a movie like that in a Narnia review?”

    Wow, imagine that. You don’t like the comparison to a movie you didn’t like. Why shouldn’t they be compared? They’re both fantasy movies based on child-/young adult-oriented fantasy literature. The messages of them both may be diametrically opposed, but that doesn’t mean that they’re immune to comparison.

    “You slammed Christianity pretty hard in the review.”

    No, I didn’t. I slammed the preachy, nonsensical storytelling that went on near the end of the movie.

    “The movie wasn’t made to convert you; the movie was made to give you a good fantasy story. You didn’t have to believe the Christian elements, nor mention them in a review.”

    Who said it was made to convert me? I think it did give me a good fantasy story. And no, I didn’t need to mention them in a review. Frankly, anyone can include or omit anything they want to in a review. Why not discuss the Christian elements, then, when they’re an integral part of the themes and ideas behind the writing of it? Because I don’t agree with your own personal take on things?

    “Trusting in the invisible God was the “moral” of that story.”

    Yeah, sort of. Lucy also had to ride out into the middle of the forest for no reason. Which was somehow trusting him? She was trusting in him the whole movie. Honestly, my beef is that while it may be a nice, neat Sunday school lecture, it has some problems that need addressing when you try to transplant it into a complex fictional narrative like this. I think I’ve detailed why it’s not a solid part of the story.

    Anyways, glad you could stir some more grumpiness from me. \:3

  8. Taylor Says:

    I don’t know why all you people think that this movie was some kind of Christian based thing, but the movie was just like any other movie: Something worth seeing because it’s entertaining. Prince Caspian was a great sequel to the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. When BBC did LWW, it totally sucked, as did PC & TVOTDT (Prince Caspian and the voyage of the dawn treader.) Anyway, I thought that Ben Barnes was hot and he’s a great Prince Caspian. All the actors and actresses in this movie were wonderful. It was a great coming of age story, and I think the graphics this time around were much better than the first. Feel free to disagree. Anyway, just thought I’d tell you what I think about Prince Caspian, and if you Narnia fans havn’t seen it, go see it now befor you have to wait six months for it to come out on DVD. Later.

  9. Scott Says:

    Thsis movie is a great sequel to Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The graphics are much better than the previous one. A must watch for everyone.

    Wanna download The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian movie in high quality, click on the name

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