Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

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Directed by: Andrew Adamson

Written by: Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely

Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell

Rating: [3/5]

Worlds change overtime where those who rule may fall and others take their place. It’s the natural pendulum swing that occurs in political life and it happens in the fictional world of Narnia. By introducing new characters and a whole new way of life, Prince Caspian expands the world of Narnia and takes it down a darker path. 

1500 years later in the world of Narnia, the king and queen siblings have returned after only a few years in their time. They reenter to Narnia looking very different with a new group of people called the Telmarine taking over. As they seek to investigate what happened since their departure, they learn about Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) and how he plans to save the close-to-extinct Narnians.

Picking up after the events of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, this film attempts to take the childlike wonder and shift it into telling a darker story. The first film of this series felt quite tame compared to what occurs in Prince Caspian and I certainly appreciate the effort in doing so. On several occasions, I found myself surprised to see what they showed for a PG-rated film. It works in boosting the film, as the children who watched the first films have aged along with these actors and can now handle a more serious story. While the first movie had no real friendly death, as the witch’s blade just froze people to eventually be awakened by Aslan, this installment shows the repercussions of the stakes involved. The sword fights, in particular, deal harmful blows and even draw blood. One moment following a battle sequence where some of the allies get stuck behind a door also had a level of maturity I did not expect and pleasantly surprised me. 

Even with its strong positives, I continue to struggle with the lack of context these films provide for the grand story occurring around them. Magical ambiguity works on some occasions, but it would be beneficial for them to explain some of the logic, seeing as it plays a major part in the story. For example, at the end of the first film, it shows the four siblings as young adults roaming through the forest and accidentally entering the wardrobe once again to appear as children in their world. Never did they attempt to return to Narnia and it never speaks on what it felt like for them to grow up only to return as kids. These siblings had to go through puberty twice! That must really do something to you for reasons we can all assume and I will not disclose. Honestly, I would have found that exploration more interesting than the story they told in this film. 

Stepping up as the villains this time are another set of humans, which differs from the witch and fellow animals utilized in the first film. The Telmarines took over Narnia after the departure of the royal siblings and decimated much of Narnia in the process. The dynamic set up by their presence looks interesting considering they’re also human and exist in this world. For as vast as this world seems to be, they definitely do not help in defining where these people come from. I’m sure the explanation exists within the source material, but we must take what the films provide if they want to tell a cohesive story. The existence of the Telmarines and the royal siblings show the difference in their approach to the Narnians, where the former see them as vermin, and the latter love the creatures themselves. Additionally, the dynamic gets even more interesting when the Telmarines sport an obvious accent, almost resembling the talk of a romance language as compared to the British siblings. I’m sure C.S. Lewis had this in mind when crafting this story and having these forces be opposed to each other opens up a conversation the film does not care to have. 

With its larger battles and darker tone, Prince Caspian serves as a worthy follow up to the first Narnia film. It definitely leaves you with strange head-scratching moments like an extremely forced romantic plotline and other ideas picked up but immediately forgotten, this film still manages to maintain the quality of this series of films. It shows the impact years have on a land once flourishing and now taken over by a less forgiving group of people. The Narnians remain protective of their land and the arrival of the four siblings along with Prince Caspian bring a level of hope they thought would never come again.

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