Skip to comments.Reviews and Discussion of Prince Caspian
Posted on 06/19/2008 9:05:22 PM PDT by DaveLoneRanger
This is the "official" thread for discussing Disney/Walden's second installment in the Chronicles of Narnia series. This thread is primarily intended for people who have already seen the movie, as the following review contains some mild spoilers.
Here is the review I wrote after seeing the film.
And as you might expect for someone who, like many, has lived with part of his heart in Narnia since childhood, there are things to cheer for and things to wince at as Shrek director Andrew Adamson once again seeks to bring his vision of the story not the story itself to the screen. There are times where changes add immeasurably to the story, and others where one wonders what Adamson and the writers were thinking (smoking?) anyway. It seems producers enjoyed breaking parts of the story just to hear the snapping sounds. And just as when you break a mirror, the picture becomes fragmented. Though showing you a different side of what you were looking at, you still have a broken mirror. The first fault line was the large section of the film devoted to Peters attempts and failures to prove himself TO himself, reaping costly benefits in the process. His faith in Aslan has all but extinguished, and he resolves to lead Narnia on his own. His weaknesses and doubts about how Aslan could have allowed the devastation and sack of Narnia may strike a more poignant chord with modern day thinkers, but at cost to the actual character.
The film doesnt really get off-kilter from the book until Lucy wakes up to find that meeting Aslan (as she was scheduled to in the book) was a dream. After this appearance, which DOESNT count, it takes another hour before the stately sovereign arrives in earnest reducing the central character of all seven Narnia books to a bit part towards the end. The completely new castle raid is another invention of Peters pride, but the tearful impact it has on audience members (plus the cool action sequences) is worth it.
Edmund For being a steadfast hero in the fight. The character grew along with the actor, and now both create a winning return. One looks to his more prominent role in Voyage of the Dawn Treader; hes earned it.
Trumpkin For being a brick with a dry sense of humor and bleak outlook on life, but a heart of pure gold.
Asterius The secret of the aged minotaurs noble sacrifice was public long before the film was, but theres something about such honorable selfless surrender coupled with vicious determination that brings a lump to my throat. (So also for other movies, such as Boromirs end in Lord of the Rings, or Doc Ocks in Spider-Man II.)
Glenstorm That gi-normous sword and stature coupled with imposing presence transform this character a supporting role at best to a highlight of the film, reminding us once again why we love these high and noble centaurs so well.
Editing As a movie, the film flows much better cinematically. In particular, the beginning kicks off properly shrouded in mystery, and we find ourselves catapulted back into Narnia with nostalgia, intrigue and style.
Aslans roar and physical size Too small in the first film, the stature of our favorite messianic lion more befits the highest of all kings in this second installment as do his roars, few though they be.
Peters stubbornness and pride Reflective of some realism (would these four children really be satisfied with returning to the life of 1940s English school children after being kings and queens of Narnia?) but still painful to watch, and a dramatic departure from the character. Does this reflect the learning and personal growth Aslan brought the Pevensies to Narnia for? And as failures mount, how can Aslan pronounce their learning from Narnia to be finished, even successful?
Prince Caspians accent It takes more than watching clips of Inigo Montoya to perfect a Spaniards accent (no joking, folks), and alas, Barnes on-again-off-again rendition doesnt pass muster.
Caspian/Peter rivalry Directly conflicting with the book ( I haven't come to take your place, you know, Peter tells Caspian but to put you into it.) this lame attempt to manufacture interpersonal conflict between the junior monarchs stands out like a sore cliché. Again, like the broken mirror, it provides an interesting *alternative* perspective, but at cost of unifying the story.
Susan/Caspian romance Designed mostly to stir up controversy, the looked-for chemistry fails utterly, and the unwarranted addition made even the actors uncomfortable .
Harry Gregson-Williams For recycling music from the first film, whether or not it fit the sequence being scored. Gregon-Williams failed to give Aslan a fitting theme in the first film (particularly letting us down when Aslan resurrect) and makes no restitution in the second film. Ironically, he gets a second chance to introduce the lion in proper fashion, and blows it.
Aslans utterly diminished role and glory To me, this is the central and defining failure of the film. As already mentioned, the defining character Lewis created, the only One to appear in all seven books, is not only limited to the latter twenty minutes or so of the film, but his sovereignty is also significantly and confusingly reduced. The best example is changing Aslans no one is ever told what would have happened to we can never know what would have happened.
I saw the film once on opening day, and the thrill and experience of it all brushed aside my concerns about alterations. Post-viewing ruminations left me more and more dissatisfied. A second viewing reconciled the two sides, leaving me irritated with some of the changes, but an overall positive vibe about the film and eagerly anticipating Michael Apteds vision for the third film.
First film was better but that seems to always be the case. But our family still looks forward to book three.
I didn’t quite think so, actually. The effects were not exceedingly polished, the script writing needed work and the soundtrack was equal to the Prince Caspian soundtrack. I actually took music and spliced it with a scene from the first movie to show what we could have gotten, and several people agreed it could have been better. Someone also posted a comparison of the LWW score and Gregson-Williams’ score for Kingdom of Heaven. Eerily similar.
Loved both movies..
Saw Prince Caspian opening weekend..
Was not disappointed..
yes Aslan could have been in more scenes,,
But at least He was there and a very real presense..
Thanks very much for this insightful review, and I am in agreement with all the main points.
The scene I liked best in the movie was the evocation of the White Witch - very scary, and reasonably faithful to the novel - and also the arrival at Cair Paravel - such beautiful scenery.
Like you, I thought the illtempered and immature behaviour by Peter was entirely out of character.
I am looking forward to the “Voyage” film, and I hope they don’t change a word of that story - it is a great one.
I am sure we would all like to thank DaveLoneRanger for his work on the Narnia pings, which have been so much appreciated. We all hope to see more posts in the future.
I object! The Telmarines are clearly modeled after Black Legend Spanish conquistadors.
Yes? Nothing in my review contradicts this...
I didn’t like it. Who decided that Telmarine = Spanish? The accents were fake/over the top. And why was Caspian pushing thirty?
Endless battle scenes are not a good idea in a PG movie. Barely a spot of red. Ridiculous.
Edmund and Lucy did a good job. Peter and Susan need protection from termites.
“The best example is changing Aslans no one is ever told what would have happened to we can never know what would have happened.
That’s the kind of change that really irritates me.
Yes, thank you - DLR - for hosting these Narnia threads. Lurker here - not even on your ping list.
But appreciate the effort - as I know many others do - those who post and my fellow lurkers.
I saw Prince Caspian the first weekend it opened. Big crowds. Applause at the end of the movie.
Having not seen the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe movie - but having read the Narnia Chronicles 20 years ago...I had a bit of a different take in that I didn’t have a previous Narnia film to compare Caspian to.
LIke others have said - Aslan did not play a big enough role in Caspian as I believe CS Lewis intended for him to play...that was my biggest disappointment.
The scenery and special effects were excellent to behold.
I had posted a thread before I saw it asking whether or not viewers thought it was appropriate viewing for little ones - such as 4 year old. Some said on that thread - that it was - others did not. After viewing it, I would not let my 4 year old great niece see it .....give her a few more years first. The Ice Witch scene by itself was too scary for the young, IMHO. Of course she would enjoy the talking animals but the wars, etc, ==== too much for the little one.
The “lessons” from Prince Caspian - well some - were easy to “get”....others were more obscure.
Overall - from someone who does not go to movies - I would give it a B+ rating.
I liked this movie a lot. I didn’t like the first one at all, because the divergence from the book was so drastic and glaring. In the case of “Prince Caspian,” the book itself was so much weaker that I didn’t mind the substitution of one adventure plot for a different one.
My favorite change was the portrayal of the Telmarine lords as Mafia dons. Had me grinning through the whole film.
I agree with you about it’s not being suitable for very young children. I took my 8- and 10-year-old daughters, and the younger one liked it, but held my hand a good part of the time.
My husband may take the teens to see it this weekend; they’ll love the battles and special effects.
..did not love the 2nd.
Thanks for the review.
I bet the younger one held your hand....did you discuss Prince Caspian - themes, meanings, etc - or just enjoy the movie as it was?
We mainly talked about the standard adventure-movie elements: courage, teamwork, sacrifice, and so on - with emphasis on getting along with your brothers and sisters :-). My husband and three oldest children had been to “Indiana Jones and the Whichever” at the same time, so the little girls and I were outnumbered.
I caught some religious elements, some subtle and some blatant, but I’m not sure the girls did.
I saw it and it wasn’t as good as the first. However, it wasn’t so bad that I understand the low box office numbers. When all is said and done (Domestic, foreign, video), this movie looks like it’s slated to earn less than half of the first movie’s gross. I just read that if the third installment isn’t shelved entirely, it’s apt to be shot on a MUCH smaller budget.
I've always assumed that they were based on the English and that Lewis, as an Ulster Anglo-Protestant, did so consciously.
I've always considered the position of the English (not the British--the English) to be identical to that of the Telmarines. Everywhere they set foot they are despised as conquerors of "indigenous" populations. In fact, they aren't even really from Telmar at all but from our world. Telmar is the first place in that world where they found themselves.
Is this not the English experience? After all, there are more English outside than within England, and the English were originally invaders of Celtic Britain (the southern part of which eventually was named after them). They invaded England from the North Sea coast of Continental Europe. And of course, they weren't originally from there either.
Today the English are the People Without a Country. Everywhere they find themselves they are unhyphenated single-identity citizens of the United States, or Canada, or Australia. Even England itself has had its national identity completely absorbed by the identity of being unhyphenated British while Welsh and Scots wave their flags and celebrate their "otherness."
You tell me that's not what being a Telmarine is all about??? Get outta here!
I too watched the film opening weekend. And I generally agree with the posted review of the film. These books have enough action, drama, and story to not need alterations and odd character modifications to make a good film.
I really do believe the diminished roll of Aslan is an intentional move to hide the already muted (by Lewis) Christian undertones. I believe the director has gone too far.
As a movie in general, it isn’t too bad. For a real fan of the Narnia series - it is rather disappointing in many ways.
If you haven’t seen it - throw away your memories of the book. Go to be entertained by a decent movie, don’t look for a visual representation of the original - or you will be frustrated.
Thanks, DLR. Attend to your greater obligations.
Then they decided to hire a bunch of actors whose phony Spanish accents would have been laughable in a high school “Man of La Mancha.” I couldn’t take any of it seriously.
In the book, it seems like Caspian is a fairly young adolescent who is still being tutored. They grew him up for a touch of romance, which couldn’t have been blander or emptier.
For reasons known only to the writers, they gratuitously made Peter a jerk.
They left out the part at the end where Aslan’s magic intercedes with the beaten boy, turns the fat kids to pigs, etc.
And didn’t they give Jadis way more prominence than in the book to show off Tilda Swinton? I don’t remember that.
But the actor looked like he was about 27. “Prince Caspian” is the story of a boy who grew up fast, not a young man who finally grew up. They should have cast an actor born after 1990.
I disagree that Peter’s weakness is bad. For me, the portrayal of Peter captures the main messages, which I think is also in the book, but is stronger in the movie: first, rely on the Lord even when things seem to fall apart. Second, live in the world you live in by applying lessons from Narnia. I may be in the minority here, but I found the movie is stronger than the book as far as the message goes. I didn’t really get anything from reading the book, while after watching the movie I felt like hearing a very good sermon!
Good review. I sympathize with all of your comments. I think I was a more disappointed, though. Watching the first movie, I was very impressed with how closely they were able to transfer the novel to film. With the second, it’s mostly very faithful in the visual style and especially in the minor characters, but the story was, I think, butchered.
I think PC as a story didn’t work well as a movie, and this was maybe the one novel where they could create LOTR-type warfare, so they re-worked it for that purpose.
I’m very hopeful for the Dawn Treader, which I think should make a good movie in its own story.
Actually, Caspian’s accent is the only one that didn’t work so well. Some of the others were actually Spanish actors, so their accents were decidedly accurate. (One of the actors, I’m told, is receiving offers from more American films since appearing in PC, so he is learning more English for the job!)
I don’t mind quite so much the aging of Prince Caspian just a little. But I do wish the producers wouldn’t bring things so close to the wire. Ben Barnes was hired a week or two before production. I think he did a fine job as Prince Caspian, but when you take things down to the wire like that, it lends more credibility to the idea that desperation played a part in picking him. They also went right down to the wire with the effects on the first film, and had to bring in a whole other production studio to get them finished on time. From other confidential reports I have, the people working on these movies run things frighteningly close to the wire.
But in the books, he leads by example. In the film, he illustrates through failure.
I am hearing some VERY disturbing whispers about Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but let’s hope they’re just false rumors. I have faith in Michael Apted’s ability to bring the film to life - better than Andrew Adamson.
Miraz also had a bad accent. Some of the minor people may have been Spanish. The whole idea of making the Telmarines Spanish was misguided. Having a Caspian in his middle twenties seriously undermined the story, what with the regency, the tutor, etc. Barnes was badly miscast. I also did not feel that he did a particularly good job.
The actor for Miraz was Italian, so I didn’t find his accent to be very inaccurate.
I liked the Spanish aspect of the Telmarines. Since they were originally pirates from our world, it pretty much makes sense, and gave them a sense of where to go with the weapons, armor and culture.
Barnes was supposed to be playing a late-teens Caspian. Perhaps it didn’t work out quite so well.
Have you tried the decaf?
The accents clearly weren’t natural.
Making the Telmarines obviously Spanish, with that lisp, seemed like a lack of imagination to me, as if they had to be the obvious counterpart of a real country rather than a distinct culture that evolved in its own imaginary context.
Imagine the Lord of the Rings if everyone from Gondor randomly had an extremely heavy, probably fake Irish brogue. Tacky is what it is.
That is what I thought. Also, classical pirates mostly weren’t Spanish; they were everyone but the Spanish hunting Spanish galleons.
But the Spanish were the only Western Europeans of the 17th century who ~weren’t~ pirates. The principal point of piracy was for ~mainly ~English and French-Caribbean tars, adventurers, and the wayward younger sons of the nobility, to rip off huge, slow, gold- and silver-laden galleons bringing treasure back from El Nuevo Mundo to the court of Spain.