May 20, 2008 by  

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian


The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Ben Barnes stars as Prince Caspian in "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian."

Starring: Ben Barnes, Sergio Castellitto, Georgie Henley
Directed by: Andrew Adamson (“Shrek 2”)
Written by: Andrew Adamson (“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”), Christopher Markus (“The Life and Death of Peter Sellers”), Stephen McFeely (“You Kill Me”)

When humans rule the world of Narnia and fantastic creatures liked fauns, centaurs, and talking animals take a backseat to the man versus man conflict, there’s bound to be some allure missing during a 144-minute long film. In “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” the sequel to the 2005 film “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” writer/director Andrew Adamson fails to build on the mythology of his first outing and packages an epic C.S. Lewis story into a tiresome script.

If you’re hoping to see character-driven beavers and a valiant dialogue by the King of the Jungle, then “Prince Caspian” is not your knight in shining armor. Instead, Adamson and his writing crew revolve the story around King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) and his pursuit to kill his nephew Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) so his newborn son can inherit the thrown and become king.

Meanwhile, back in England for a year since last stumbling into the world of Narnia from a wardrobe, the four Pevensie children – Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Peter (William Moseley), and Susan (Anna Popplewell) – have no idea how much the world of Narnia has changed over the span of 1,300 years (Apparently one year on earth equals that amount of time in Narnia).

When the children are magically transported back into Narnia, they are all surprised and saddened to find that Narnians have been pushed into the forest where a majority of them live in hiding and in fear of the Telmarines (the human rulers). Determined to keep his spot in line for the kingship, Prince Caspian and the Pevensie children, all of whom are looked upon as “the kings and queens of old” and the saviors of Narnia, set out to defeat King Miraz and his army before they wipe out what is left of magical land.

While the sequel will provide some light escapism, fantasy film series like “The Chronicles of Narnia,” will forever be compared to “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. It’s just something fantasy films will have to get used to until the end of time. From a mainstream audience’s viewpoint, the film has already lost simply because the adaptation of Lewis’ work is far less rudimentary than J.R.R. Tolkien.

The storyline Adamson conjures up is not flavored and quickly dissolves as the film proceeds forward into plain scenes of computer generated hokum underwritten by its own standards. Where we had boisterous beavers and charming fauns in the first, we get a dull badger and a team of sword-wielding mice, which are entirely too reminiscent of the Shrek sidekick Puss in Boots (Adamson should have known better).

The best performance of the film comes from actor Peter Dinklage (“The Station Agent”) who plays a Narnian dwarf named Trumpkin. His enchanting personality, however, is no match for the dreary faces of the Pevensie clan. Although scenes of wartime heroics are high (and child-friendly), “Prince Caspian” is basic swordplay with little emotional pull behind any of the characters, CGI or not.

Grade: C

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