Plot 1,300 years have passed in Narnia and a race of men called the Telmarines now rule. Heir to their throne is Caspian (Barnes), who is battling usurper uncle, Miraz (Castellitto), and must enlist the aid of the Pevensie children to bring peace to the land.
If we had a million pounds, we’d offer it to the first children’s fantasy sequel to promise not to describe itself as “darker” than its predecessor. That’s not to say that this is necessarily an unwelcome characteristic, just that it traditionally means, “Our lead hit puberty and no longer sings soprano,” or, “We got bad reviews last time.” But sometimes, just sometimes, it’s justified - and this sequel to The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe is quite a bit darker. The good news is that it’s also better.
It follows a film that boasted strong special effects, decent child performances and faithfulness to its source material, but somehow seemed a little empty, lacking the heart and soul that make the source novels such perennial favourites and that made, say, The Lord Of The Rings movies into such great examples of filmmaking. This one’s a little closer to what we wanted first time around, at least giving texture to Narnia and some indications that this is a land that can, and does, support an actual population - and, if it’s still more conjuring trick than deep magic, it’s a step in the right direction.
The opening of the last film - an air raid over World War II London - was one of the highpoints, and this one also throws us straight into the action. More than a thousand years after we last saw Narnia, a baby is born in a dark, heavily fortified castle - prompting its father, Lord Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), to order the murder of his nephew, the rightful ruler, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes). Escaping through a wardrobe (a different one), Caspian rides into the “haunted” woods, where he finds the supposedly extinct Narnian natives in all their shapes and sizes. Pursued by his fellow Telmarines, Caspian blows a mysterious horn - and summons the four Pevensies back to Narnia.
The quartet - Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) - are only a year older, and they’re all dealing with the fall-out from their adventures in different ways: in Peter’s case, by starting fights; in Susan’s, by avoiding the attentions of nerds (not sure we got the connection there); in Edmund’s, by feeling unappreciated; and in Lucy’s, by blithely remaining faithful to the idea that she will one day return to Narnia. And so the stage is set. Caspian and the Pevensies have to find each other, forge an alliance with the magical creatures of Narnia, take down the bad guys and persuade the long vanished Aslan to make a return appearance in time for prize-giving medals and afternoon tea.
The difference this time is that the enemies aren’t just make-believe creatures but flesh-and-blood humans, and as such, they’re wilier and sneakier than any witch that ever lived. The book’s rather simple plot is fleshed out with the addition of much political skullduggery among the Telmarines - both from the sinister Miraz himself and from his councillors and general - which adds something for those over the age of 11. The infighting does detract a little from Miraz’s personal menace, but that’s compensated for by introducing dissent among the Narnians themselves. Dwarf Nikabrik (Warwick Davis) hints at a dark side missing from the happy-clappy first film, especially in one stand-out scene just after the mid-point which we won’t spoil.
Against these foes and their vast, masked armies, the new good guys are perfectly cast. Ben Barnes’ Caspian is appropriately heroic, but with edges of insecurity and occasionally bullishness - he butts heads with High King Peter, still trying to take charge - that make him more than a cookie-cutter swashbuckler. There’s a romantic subplot with Susan that’s a little ill-judged, but otherwise it’s a confident, charismatic debut that makes the prospect of Barnes taking an even bigger role in the next film, Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, quite welcome. The comedy weight, however - and this is a significantly funnier film than its predecessor – is carried by the grumpy, strangely adorable Trumpkin, beautifully played by the dependable Peter Dinklage, and Reepicheep the fighting mouse, voiced with pizzazz by Eddie Izzard. Still, it’s not all so well-judged. The principal flaw here is the urge to explain everything, to emphasise moments instead of letting them flow. At times, the camera lingers in a way that is clearly meant to Signify Something Important; at others, it just hangs around to admire the beauty of the New Zealand scenery and the excellent special effects. But this look-how-pretty showboating verges on effects porn, and it slows down both drama and tension inexcusably. There’s also a frequent sense that we’re being force-fed emotion: the chief centaur, for example (who is described in the production notes, in a surfeit of political correctness, as “African-Narnian”), has little to do but nod approvingly or gaze reproachfully, just to make sure we get it.
And the performances of the older kids remain ropey. Moseley’s Peter still gives little sense that he’s a natural leader of men, with a subplot detailing his insecurities and rivalry with Caspian detracting further from any impression that he’s worthy to be High King. Popplewell, meanwhile, pouts her way through scenes which require little from her but archery, and can’t seem to get any traction on a character that was always the least well thought-out of the lot. The younger pair are better: Keynes, who has the most interesting Pevensie to play - one always gets the sense that Edmund is easily the smartest of the quartet - gets to do nothing but make (admittedly funny) sarky remarks. Only Henley, happily, is every bit as charming as she was in the first film.
Around these central characters hang a host of brilliantly realised animals, monsters and magical creatures of all stripes (and spots), and this time the FX work is damn near flawless. The griffins are much better than Harry Potter’s, the minotaurs are wonderful, and the sight of fauns in combat take wire-fu to a new level. The lengthy but well-staged battle scenes are genuinely thrilling, both in a night-time assault and a sunlit mêlée. With their faster pace, bigger numbers and higher stakes they recall a multi-species Braveheart rather than the slightly disappointing effort at the end of the last film, and there’s a sense of real lives at stake. Of course, there’s nary a drop of blood spilled by anyone, despite the wholesale slaughter on both sides and the disturbing sight of these kids merrily swinging daggers and swords - an increasingly dishonest practice to get this level of violence into kiddie films. In the end, perhaps, the fights are a bit like the film itself: effectively realised, full of characters you love, but a little bloodless.
Verdict Significantly better than the first film or, say, the first two Harry Potters, but we still can’t love it as much as we do the books. That said, if they keep improving at this pace, Dawn Treader should be a fantastic experience.
Average user rating for The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian
RE: Great Sequel!
I found the battle scenes in both movies of this franchise to be rather dull and uninspired, which since they form a greater part of the plot here becomes an issue.
I actually preferred the first film, it was more fun and magical and had a far more prominent role for the less wooden of the children.
3 stars, maybe 3.5 stars for the scenary which should look stunning in Hi-def when I get the Blu Ray.
I have more hopes for the next one, which will shed the wood, and have a more var... More
As good as if not better than the first Narnia film. The FX are seemless (badger!), the story different enough to not be just a cash-in of the first film and even most of the cast act better - except for Peter who looks as if he couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag. On the strength of this I can't wait for the next one. ... More
A wonderful film that makes you smile as youre not sure what to marvel at first. I agree with many of the above comments like more was needed on Aslan and the performances of the older children are slightly 'wooden' however this reminds me of the harry potter films that include stunning visuals with some equally bad acting going on. But to be honest, you can quite easily ignore that and simply gawk at the enjoyable action sequences and amusing creatures. I disagree with the comment that says the... More
I felt the acting was a bit wooden (especially from the older teens and the ttle character), the plot deja vu, the score is too LOTR and it's also trying too hard to be 'darker' and some parts could've been cut. what's with the unessary romantic subplot too? It's got more action than the first and seems slightly more mature, but it NEEDS to find it's own identity badly. Here's to hoping the new director for Dawn Treader does the books more justice, ... More
Pretty good film given that the source material is a bit less iconic than Lion/Witch/Wardrobe but it's the most action-filled of the books - not sure how they are going to cope with Dawn Treader, which is basically a kind of school-trip version of Narnia with no real plot or climax or ending, just a series of adventures that really defy logic or reason. Prince Caspian is really the high point of the series, aside from Horse and His Boy which would call down a fatwa on the studio's head if they ... More
On the whole, the film is very watchable and eventful enough. Really enjoyed the first three-quarters of it.
The ending almost ruined it. Why couldn't Aslan just do that in the first place? And the response to Lucy's 'could I have saved them?' was laughable - you didn't have enough faith in me so people die - nice. I tried to ignore that, and ended up enjoying it in the main.
7/10 ... More
I found it about as good as the last one although in a different way. I thought this one had better action but it was more annoying. The little girl is the most annoying character in my opinion, and Edmond was the best and I wish they could have had more of him on screen.
I didn't really think it was very suitable for young kids, a few creatures in that film looked surprisingly ugly/scary....to back up that point, me and my boyfriend definitely noted the smell of urin... More
This film was certainly better than the first, I found the first to be flat. The performances were a little dull and uninspiring and the battle scenes choked. This time around there are some good new changes. However before I continue, could Empire, specifically Dan Jolin explain the e fawnographyst displayed in the July issue, page 110 :-
considerably filled-out 20, Moseley sits before us, out of costume in a tight, John McClane-style khaki vest, a garment we perhaps ungenerously suspect ... More
Pretty poor and some bad effects (sepcifically the lion, Aslan, which still needs work) spoiled it for me. It's unfair to mark it down for similarities between it and LOTR, however, since Lewis finished writing the books the same year as the LOTR was first published. It's hardly plagiarism.
I think Jayofeen that the previous posters comments you are reffering too are regarding the cinematic style of PC mimicing the LOTR movies not PC`s books story&nb... More
I know that Tolkien and Lewis were friends and I have not read the book of Prince Caspian but is it really that similar to the Two Towers? Caspian doing and Aragorn (you should lead the people 'oh no I cant really' 'oh alright then') a weird fortress cave thing where all the good guys whole up for the final stand *cough* helms deep *cough* and then SPOLIER the trees come alive at the end and squish all the bad guys (just like the ents no?) anything missing? well what about nicking the Flight at ... More
Director: Andrew Adamson
Screenwriters: Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
Starring: Ben Barnes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Peter Dinklage, Sergio Castellitto
A year has passed since their first adventure and the Pevensies (Morseley, Popplewell, Keynes, McFeely) return to Narnia, realising that over a millennium has passed since the siblings left. When an evil king is determined to rule the land, the Pevensie... More
L: Speedwagon Roll!
Why is Aslan such a patronising cunt, dear one?
Just sprayed coke all over myself thanks to this.
Enjoyed the film , but this point really annoyed me, basically the Narnians endured 1300 years of oppression and were almost exterminated because Aslan couldn't be arsed helping them. Also why would any of the Telemarines choose to leave a now peaceful Narnia for a war torn England? Were these explained better in the books? ... More
Worst film I've seen this year. The kids were awful, especially given that only Georgie Henley is under sixteen, but perhaps that due to the gruesome, exposition over-loaded script. I couldn't but for one minute that these were once kings and queens, nor was at all convinced that either boy was a leader of men.
Why did the Telmarines have Spanish accents?
What did the Narnians hope to achieve by attacking the castle?
Why is Aslan such a patronising cunt, dear one?
And the fuc... More
RE: Better than the first one, in a different way.
L: Manchurian candidate
Can I ask what you lovely, endearing, beautiful people thought of the song over the closing credits? (The Call by Regina Spektor)
I like it. I've like Regina Spektor ever since I first heard 'Us' and I thought 'The Call' fitted the ending of the film well, just as Alanis Morrisette's 'Wunderkind' suited 'Wardrobe'. ... More
RE: Better than the first one, in a different way.
liked it. More than the first one I think which I also liked a great deal.
I know quite a bit has been changed from the book but I shan’t complain because a) It’s been so long since I read it they could have changed half the character names and I probably wouldn’t have noticed, b) pretty much all of the changes seemed to work within the context of the film itself, c) what works on the page isn’t always going to work on the bog screen so some jiggery-pokery is to be expected anyway and d)... More
Barnes does well in a role that for some reason demanded a Spanish accent. I know the Tellamines/ites (?!) are descended from pirates/brigands but why the Spanish/conquistador look? Barne's Caspian holds the film together in a film that is very badly paced. You have decent fights and chases followed by lots and lots of walking, moaning and sneering. It jars badly.
Luckily Izzard, Warwick Davis and the wonderful Peter Dinkage root the film and give it some much needed fun.... More
I had high expectations with this movie because I like the book more than LWW, and I wasn´t wrong, I loved it. Probably more than the first one, becoz it´s definitely darker Gosh! Whata jump from the first movie to this one, it´s quite obvious this one is a bit more epic and real, since the very first scene XD.
More human characters, more conflicts.
King Miraz and Glózel were good enough, right actors to play them, so Lord Sopespian. We have great villains wi... More
Oh dear, this was pretty poor. The kids apart from Edmund and Lucy were shockingly bad. Example: Susan hanging from a ledge and from her reaction, about to fall to her death.....or so you might have thought but there was a flaming ledge about 2 feet below her. The cinema I was in groaned at that awful scene. The whole Aslan is Christ thing bothered me too, it just felt a bit too heavy handed. Good points? Reepicheep and some decent action. 6 out of 10 (... More
For reasons too long and convulted to go into here, I loved the first film. That's right, you read that right. I thought it was a nicely done family film that fit the festive period and Lord of the Rings shaped seasonal gap well. Sure, it was aimed a bit younger than LOTR but then so are the books and I thought it was an impressive start to a potentially great franchise.
The second part however, I feel, stumbles after a decent start. There were problems with the first film and most of it r... More
Narina is back and it's got darker. New enemies have arrived with threat and horrors await for the four Kings and Queens. But as it has been 1,300 years, back in the real world it has only been one and boy, have they grown up. Peter is now wondering what to do with himself after being King for so long, Susan is more interested in boys and more teenage things than Narina, Lucy still pins for returning to see Aslan again but Edmond is the odd one out not doing a lot. After returning to Narnia, th... More
it has to be said that i liked the first one better not having read any of the books i was dragged along to the orginal and loved it even bought the dvdim not so sure id buy the shiny disc this time this film lacks the sense of wonder inevitablythough there are some cool fxs at theend. edmund and lucy the two best characters in the first one are sidelined this timeDOH!ben barnes has been to the orlando bloom school of ... More