Director: Andrew Adamson
Starring: Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley, Ben Barnes and Sergio Castellitto
UK Release date: 26 June 2008
Certificate: PG (140 mins)
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is the second instalment of C.S. Lewis’s seven-part fantasy series. If you expect to escape into an enthralling kingdom of candid wonder and colourful magic, you’ll be disenchanted. In Narnia, things never happen the same way twice. Gracious fauns and Turkish Delight have been replaced with betrayal, violence and predictable revenge.
Young viewers are thrust into political warfare, reminiscent of the sombre elements witnessed in the second Lord of the Rings instalment, The Two Towers, as well as the more sinister editions of Harry Potter.
One year after the incredible events of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Peter (William Moseley) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are transported via a World War II-era tube station in Trafalgar Square to an island in Narnia, only to discover that everything has changed. More than 1300 years have passed in their beloved home away from home. During their absence, the Golden Age of Narnia has become extinct, the welcoming woodland creatures have vanished and Narnia has been conquered by Telmarines, a race of humans led by King Miraz, a tyrant. During this uproar, Narnians fled into hiding, sustaining themselves with the redeeming legends of King Edmund, Queen Lucy, Queen Susan and High King Peter.
When the Pevensie clan returns, they meet an intriguing new character: Narnia’s rightful heir to the throne, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), who has been forced into hiding due to his uncle’s shifting allegiance. Caspian’s uncle Miraz, (Sergio Castellitto) is a royal usurper who plans to kill his nephew in order to place his own newborn son on the throne.
However, young Prince Caspian manages to escape into Old Narnia and joins forces with the Pevensie siblings and scores of familiar fabulous creatures. Together, they embark on a remarkable journey to find Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson), rescue Narnia from Miraz’s tyrannical hold and restore magic and glory to the kingdom.
In an early battle, the Narnians make grave strategic errors and, with heavy casualties, are forced to retreat. However, the war between good and evil escalates in a series of battles as the Telmarines and Narnians fight for the autonomy of the land. Despite the director’s (Andrew Adams) efforts to ignite momentum with chilling combat and rivalry, the film fails to compensate for the lack of chemistry between its young imperial subjects. The feisty spirit of Reepicheep (voiced by Eddie Izzard), the sharp-tongued and sword-swivelling mouse, exemplifies the palpable aloofness exhibited by the Pevensies. Fortunately, Prince Caspian played by British actor Ben Barnes adds Spanish vigour to the lethargic royal suite. In addition to Barnes’s commendable debut, there are two more exceptions to this dreary cast: Peter Dinklage, as a defiant Australian dwarf, and Tilda Swinton, (recent Oscar winner for Michael Clayton), who makes a frustratingly brief appearance as the formidable White Witch.
Although the film possesses a more mature and sinister stance than the first in the series, it is diminished in its quizzical charm and intrigue. It has become yet another formulaic fantasy, offering nothing more than a mythology that was once deemed magical, only to evolve into a mundane and morose tragedy. This sequel in C.S. Lewis’s infinite fantasy series is far down my list of must-see movies.
Michelle Dos Santos