The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian marks the second film in the series that could possibly (although not probably) run to seven. Andrew Adamson returns to the director’s chair for the sequel which, to put it kindly, isn’t the most engaging of films. I mean, the scenery is beautiful. It’s full of action. But for some reason, the film lacks almost anything worth caring about.
In this film, we open with Prince Caspian, the heir to the throne of Narnia being smuggled out of his kingdom. His evil uncle, Miraz, wants the Prince dead so he can place himself in the throne. Caspian escapes an assassination attempt and calls for the old kings and queens of Narnia for help. The Pevensie children, Peter, Edmund, Susan and Lucy are whisked back to Narnia, where they find the landscape changed to the point where it’s unrecognisable. And worst of all, the Narnians are in hiding, thought to be extinct. And Aslan is nowhere to be found. Prince Caspian raises an army of Narnians to take back his throne and bring peace to Narnia but is disappointed to find that the kings and queens he summoned are mere children. And so two battles begin. One, a battle of wills between Caspian and Peter Pevensie as to who should lead the army, and the battle between the Narnians and the Telmarines, the humans who forced the Narnians into hiding.
One word can sum up The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Boring. From the beginning to the very end, you’ll be hard pressed to raise more than one eyebrow in anything resembling excitement, surprise, tension or entertainment. Sure, the New Zealand and Czech Republic backdrop is gorgeous. But it’s gorgeous in any film. It takes more than pretty scenery to make a decent film. The film breaks down like this. Escape, return, argue, attack, argue, defend, attack, go home. That’s literally the film. The characters are in no way engaging and the battles are sleep inducing. Unfortunately, Andrew Adamson cannot direct a fight or battle scene. He ends up using that tired old cliché, slow motion and everything just becomes lacklustre. There’s a lot of proclaiming ‘FOR NARNIA!’ ‘FOR ASLAN!’ For Christ sake, gimme something interesting to watch.
I’ll admit, I haven’t read C.S. Lewis’ books. But from watching the film, it just seems that despite 1300 years passing from the time the children left Narnia to the time they returned, they’re not all that sad everything has changed. They lament for a quick moment that their friends are all dead, but then they skip off into the wood to meet delightful mouse creatures with miniature swords and badgers who can talk. It’s just all a little trite. The five principal actors, the Pevensies played by William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley and Prince Caspian, played by Ben Barnes either bicker amongst themselves or stand with jaws agape, staring at blank spaces to later be filled by special effects. Their performances, if you can call them that, are just ineffectual. In fact, Barnes, who plays the titular character, seems to be a second tier character. I just found myself wishing King Miraz, the villain, would slap the children and tell them to behave.
The only actor who actually was worth watching was Peter Dinklage as a miniature Hulk Hogan. Dinklage is a fine actor, and plays the gruff dwarf Trumpkin with gusto. At one point I found myself waking up as Tilda Swinton’s White Witch made an appearance, but that quickly faded as it became clear she was only popping in to make a cameo.
I don’t see The Chronicles of Narnia having much more in the way of legs if the upcoming Voyage of the Dawn Treader is as boring as Prince Caspian. Everything in this movie has been done before, and a million times better by Peter Jackson. Prince Caspian is Lord of the Rings-lite. Don’t waste your money.