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Prince Caspian is Everything Wrong with Recent Fantasy Films

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Directed by Andrew Adamson
Written by Adamson, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely from the book by C.S. Lewis
Disney, 2008

Prince Caspian is the second book in C.S. Lewis’ seven part series The Chronicles of Narnia, which isn’t a continuous story like The Lord of the Rings. And obviously, challenges will rise down the line as faces change and the stories told won’t follow the previous one. The order that the films are being made are the order in which the Lewis books were published, which isn’t exactly chronological in the full scope of the story. It is inevitable that the Narnia film series is going to have to take liberties, and certainly the source material of Prince Caspian was in need of some juice, but ultimately this movie is way overblown, annoying, and unable to distinguish itself.

In Prince Caspian, Narnia has moved 1300 years while Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and Lucy (Georgie Henley) have been living a year in London. At the end of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, the four siblings had lived a fairly long time in Narnia as kings and queens before rediscovering the wardrobe and becoming children again. Since their departure, Narnia has become a harsher place and threatens to be that way permanently under the people of Telmar and the assumed king Miraz (Sergio Castellito). Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), who is being taught in a different way from his fellow Telmarines and hopes that the land can be like the tales of old again, blows a magical horn that brings the children back to Narnia.

Their return is met with confusion from many, considering they appear as children, and there is some sort of resentment that they abandoned Narnia in the first place, setting up some tension between Caspian and Peter. The consortment of talking beasts who want to join forces and topple Miraz wonder if they can truly lead them back to glory. But, band together they must and put their faith into the situation. And battles will ensue.

At this point in the game, we’ve seen a lot of these battles. Even in The Lord of the Rings, a series I regard highly, the battle scenes began to get a bit tired (they still had cool stuff sprinkled throughout, however). So as Caspian enters into another castle-storming, with swords clinking and arrows flying, it just knocked the wind out of any possible amusement. Part of it comes from the characters, who aren’t overall very likable except for Lucy. There are a couple of times the film stops to approach a sense of wonder: the possible return of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton), the mysterious nature of Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson), but make no mistake, this movie is battle-centric and it aims to please almost entirely through that.

I also couldn’t help but get a bit annoyed from seeing the Narnian army take orders from the decidedly young siblings. A couple of scenes with Susan shouting orders just played wrong to me, and Peter’s insufferable entitlement throughout the picture made him thoroughly unwatchable. Then, I couldn’t help but take note of the numerous cutaway shots of centaurs throughout the picture, always with the centaur having this “meaningful” look on its face and all the while I couldn’t help but think of that bizarre SNL sketch with Christopher Walken and Chris Parnell, where Parnell was a centaur having a job interview with Walken.

When I see fantasy pictures, I want to be shown an amazing world full of magic. C.S. Lewis was fond of writing about battles, so we can expect a lot of this from The Chronicles of Narnia. However, if there is one way the filmmakers could take liberties with his stories it would be to exploit the more fantastical elements and make something closer resembling something we’ve never seen before. Prince Caspian is pretty much everything we’ve seen in the past few years.

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