DVD of a very good sequel
Dec 29, 2008 (Updated Dec 31, 2008)
Review by Chris McCallister
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Complex story, more characters, good effects
Cons:Nothing for me
The Bottom Line: This is an excellent sequel to the first movie, but is more serious, and darker.
This is sequel to the 2005 Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in which four siblings (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie) in World War Two London, are sent to live with a family friend in the country, to protect them, find a magical kingdom called Narnia, faces trials and tribulations there, and become Narnian royalty.
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Now, one year later (London time), the four Pevensie siblings are back in London, trying to adjust back to being kids, instead of the kings and queens of Narnia. They are doing okay, but just okay. Then, an underground train whisks by, and they end up back in Narnia.
However, much has changed, as centuries have passed. Their castle is in ruins, the human Telmarine people have taken over, and the indigenous Narnians have been exterminated. Or have they? The Telmarines are led by the power-hungry General Miraz, as regent to his deceased brother’s son, Prince Caspian. As the movie starts, Miraz’s wife has a baby, and Caspian becomes a roadblock to Miraz’s son becoming the next king. Caspian escapes, and blows the horn of Queen Susan. Nothing seems to happen, but Caspian does discover that the Narnians do still exist, as he encounters a contentious dwarf, Trumpkin. But, with General Miraz, Caspian, the Narnians, and the Pevensie children in a four-way effort to gain control of Narnia, with alliances resulting. An ugly war ensues, with Miraz and his men looking like they are going to win.
As things are going badly for the Caspian-Pevensie-Narnian alliance, will they get desperate and resurrect an ancient nemesis, the White Witch? Will Aslan appear and help them out again? Why are the trees so inanimate now, as opposed to their once-lively forms of Narnia long ago? Will Caspian or any of the Pevensie kids die?
This is a darker, more complex, more suspenseful film than the first movie in the series. While the Pevensie quartet faced challenges in the first movie, this is much more harrowing. There is more fighting, more near-death incidences, more carnage, more factions involved, more battles, more action, and a more complex story.
Whenever a fantasy series starts, there is a sense of wonder inherent in introducing the audience to a new fictional universe. We saw this in Jurassic Park movies, and in the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, as well as in the first Narnia movie. We get to experience, vicariously, the sense of awe felt by the characters. However, that is hard to continue in the sequels, and such is the case with Prince Caspian. However, the increase in story complexity compensates for much of that decrease in wonder.
With one exception, the special effects are similar to those of the first movie, with talking animals, griffins, centaurs, and fauns in abundance, and plenty of large battle scenes. The really neat addition is the one seen in the commercials and the trailers: the River Giant. The River Giant has a small but crucial role, and is quite a work of CGI mastery.
Character-wise, with a bigger cast of major characters, the four Pevensie children are somewhat de-emphasized, and especially Edmund and, to a lesser extent, Susan. Peter remains pivotal, as he vies with Caspian for the lead in their alliance, and Lucy has a big role related to the de-emphasized Aslan. A new character, Trumpkin, has a big supporting role, and I was glad to see the White Witch get a small role.
As far as acting goes, Georgie Hensley, as Lucy Pevensie, continues to shine, and William Moseley holds steady as Peter Pevensie. Skandar Keynes does well with the scenes that Edmund Pevensie does get, and Anna Popplewell is fine as Susan Pevensie.
For the newcomers, Ben Barnes does well in the prominent role of Prince Caspian, and Sergio Castellitto gives us an ambitious, ruthless, cruel General Miraz. Peter Dinklage steals scenes as Trumpkin the dwarf. Of course, Tilda Swinton is great in the small role as the still creepy and menacing White Witch. Liam Neeson remains purrfect as the voice of Aslan, and Ken Stott does well as the voice of Trufflehunter, the badger. Eddie Izzard, as the voice of Reepicheep the squirrel, rivals Antonio Banderas as Puss-in-Boots from Shrek.
My DVD came with no bonus features.
Overall, this is a very different film from the first Chronicles of Narnia. It is more complex, darker, less wondrous, but equally good. Definitely a worthy sequel. The next in the series, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is scheduled for release in 2010.
Update: I now have the book, but have not yet read it. I am hearing, from various sources, that the movie is not faithful to the book, with significant changes in theme and major sections simply omitted.
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