Sunday, June 15, 2008

Journey Back to Narnia

I don't actually understand why The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian isn't doing well at the box office, because I thoroughly enjoyed the second outing into the world of Narnia. It is darker and rougher, and definitely veering towards a PG-13 rating instead of its PG. All around, it's a solid story with old characters who have grown (and not just physically) and new characters who are refreshing to watch.

Based on the second Chronicles of Narnia novel (or the fourth if you read them in the chronological order), Prince Caspian picks up one year after the Pevensie siblings have left Narnia. Peter (William Moseley) is picking fights because he doesn't want to be in this world. Edmund (Skandar Keynes) tends to jump in and help. Susan (Anna Popplewell) keeps to herself, and Lucy (Georgie Henley) thinks about going back all the time.

After being magically called to return, the children are transported from WWII-era England into the realm of Narnia...1300 years in the future. Narnians have been banished to the forest, and the Pevensie's old palace is just a pile of ruins.

Quickly, they learn that the human Telmarines have taken control. With the help of Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), a dwarf named Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage), and all of Narnia, the ancient kings and queens of Narnia lead an uprising to restore Narnia to its old glory and take back Caspian's throne from his evil uncle.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe had one epic battle. Prince Caspian is simply one big epic battle with a few resting points scattered throughout. The film opens with a chase scene and pretty much never slows down until the third act. Even when there's no fighting, the dialog stays witty and funny and well-balanced for both children and adults.

There are those who won't like the movie because it's too violent. I might agree to some extent. It is slightly disturbing to see teens and tweens highly skilled with a bow and arrow, a broad sword, or a dagger. It's also both funny and odd to see a mouse (voiced by Eddie Izzard, no less) take down a man with one fell swoop to the jugular.

There are purist who won't like it because the movie adds too much that didn't appear in the book. It's been nearly two decades since I last read the series, so I really don't remember what was there and what wasn't. Besides, purists like that should never see an adapted movie.

All I know is that I had a great time at the movies, and I'd recommend it to anyone who loves a great fantasy film. Take the kids because C.S. Lewis' stories were meant to be a family experience. Just beware of the battle scenes--they are, as I said before, leaning more to the PG-13 fare than not.

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