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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Movie Review: Prince Caspian

I know this movie is kind of old but what can I say?


When The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe came out December of 2005 I was ecstatic.  Daddy had been reading us the books and I was a total Narnia fan.  (Ok, make that junkie, or fanatic) I absolutely LOVED The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (saw it twice in theaters :) )- it seemed very true to the book and true to the redeeming Christian values that C. S. Lewis was known for weaving throughout his popular stories.  I nearly jumped out of my skin in excitement when I heard that work had started on Prince Caspian in 2006.
We didn't go see the movie when it came out in 2008...  We were kind of on a Narnia break  :)  It wasn't until a few weeks ago that we finally saw Prince Caspian. (We wanted to see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader more after hearing rave reviews but we couldn't go out of order :-)
Now after hearing bad reviews about the movie I was pleasantly surprised to find the movie not as bad as I thought it would be at all.


It had been hundreds of years in Narnia since Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy were kings and queens before they accidentally fell back into the wardrobe landing them back in England.  But it had only been about a year later in England when the Pevensie children are pulled back into Narnia, and they are thrust right back into adventure.
Prince Caspian, the son of the late Caspian the Ninth, had been living with his uncle (who had actually murdered Caspian the Ninth in order to seize the throne) in Caspian's father's castle.  Narnia was ruled over by the nation of Telmar, the country over which Caspian's father had been king.  Since the years that the Pevensie children had reigned at Cair Paravel, Telmar had taken over Narnia, driving out the talking animals and "savage" creatures such as dwarves, fauns, and centaurs.  The children of the Telmarines were never told any of the history of old that had anything to do with the old Narnia- much less Aslan.  It was all a myth in the eyes of the people, just as Caspian's uncle Miraz desired it to be.  Little does Miraz know that the teachings of the "old Narnia" were being taught to his young nephew under his own roof!
Caspian's tutor taught him the stories of King Peter, Queen Susan, King Edmund, Queen Lucy, and most of all Aslan.  He knew them well, though the tutor had been explicitly warned not to teach such things, he could not deny the truth.
One night, Miraz's wife gives birth to a son, and  Caspian's whole world is turned upside down.  Miraz sends orders for Caspian to be murdered in his sleep, now that he has son that can be king, Caspian is no longer needed.  But Caspian's tutor is too quick for them, he races to Caspian in the night and hides him minutes before Caspian's mattress is littered with sharp arrows.
Caspian flees to the forest, and upon falling off his horse, is knocked out after blowing the horn of Queen Susan for help and wakes up in the home of a talking badger (the likes of which he has never seen, remember?  Narnia is extinct... or so he thought.).  By now Miraz knows that Caspian is still alive and sends his horsemen into the Narnian wood  (of which they are afraid because of the mysterious stories of the Nymphs and Driads- walking trees).  When they are unable to find him they return to Telmar.
While Caspian tries to prove himself to Nikabrick, an angry dwarf who wants him dead on the basis of his being a Telmarine, the Narnians begin to assemble.  At first they all want rid of him, but he pleads with them, promising that once he is king that he will restore peace between Narnia and Telmar.  They are convinced of his worth and nobility and follow him as his army.
Meanwhile, the Pevensies have been "called" by Susan's horn.  They encounter the ruins of Cair Paravel, once their home, 1,300 years in Narnia prior, and begin to understand.  Nevertheless they find their old hidden treasure room untouched and gather their weapons and suitable clothes from there.  When they go back up to the beach, they see a dwarf struggling with two Telmarine men who are trying to drown him.  Upon his rescue by the four Pevensies, seeing Peter's sword (trademark), he says with a bit of a groan, "You're it?"  The children obviously don't know exactly what he means but upon a little duel with Edmund, he spills the whole story and they immediately get on their way toward their rendezvous, Aslan's How.
Just to whet your appetite- don't want to give the whole thing away :-)
What I thought of it
I liked it.
The epic battle scenes were, yes, intense (probably a little too intense for little ones) but they were rather enjoyable in that the choreography was good, the special effects great, and it seemed that they had definitely gotten better than the first movie in that area (not that the first one had bad battle scenes, just these were better :-)).  The attack on Miraz's castle was reminiscent of The Lord of the Rings battle at Helm's Deep.  The duel between Peter and Miraz was fantastic.
Granted, from a reviewer's standpoint those were some great scenes, but from a girl's standpoint I wish there was less battle and more dialog.  Our family had read the book though it was so long ago most of us didn't remember it- I found myself updating my mom on what was happening because the movie was moving so fast and there was not enough explaining.  The storyline and characters needed development so as to explain to the Narnia novice what was going on.
OK, the music is a whole new story.  It drove me insane to hear the exact same music from the first movie.  It didn't even seem that they rearranged it or anything.  I know there was some new music but to have some of the exact same songs from the first movie in the exact same arrangement was a little crazy.
The casting was excellent. Most of the new characters were played by the perfect faces.  Exceptions include Caspian's tutor and Trumpkin- something about Trumpkin didn't seem right...
The "romance" between Caspian and Susan was not in the book but it was so low key and the kiss at the end so quick that it is hardly worth mentioning.  When I had heard about it before I was expecting something a lot worse and was pleasantly surprised to say, "That was it?!?!?"
I had heard a lot about how creepy the scene was when they "call back" the White Witch.  How pagan it seemed.  Yes, it was creepy.  Yes, it was evil.  But was it portrayed as such?  Yes.  Did good triumph over that evil?  Yes.  Thus it was redeemed.
Now, one thing that was sad was that they seemed to tone down the spiritual elements in the book.  Yes, they still included the parts with Lucy and Aslan, when she sees him and no one believes her or when she  meets him (in a dream- as portrayed in the film) and comments, "You're bigger."  But all in all Aslan makes very little appearance in the film.
The underlying Christian theme of the movie which I thought was executed quite nicely, was that you cannot depend on your own strength.  ("Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding..."  Proverbs 3)  When Peter returned to Narnia, he felt like a king again.  Pride swelled inside of him and ended up causing other people's deaths and endangering Caspian's army.  The underlying theme of waiting for Aslan and trusting him was definitely evident.
Would I own it?
Based on the art that went into it, the epic battle scenes, and the theme of humility, I would indeed own this movie.
I would recommend this movie for children 10 and up.  Though our whole family watched it there was some difficulty in getting anyone younger than 10 (with the exception of the tired 2-year-old- and maybe James ;-) ) to fall asleep after the movie.  :-)

All in all our family agrees to give this movie 3.5-4 out of 5 stars
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