Like the first of the franchise, the strength of this fantasy adventure lies in the juxtaposition of two separate worlds and our ability to view Narnia through the eyes of the four young protagonists. The characters are engaging, the special effects extravagantly impressive and the New Zealand and Eastern European settings stunning. Yes, Prince Caspian is terrific and there's plenty to enjoy, but someone needs to tell the filmmakers that length does not make a better film. Quite the contrary. In this case, the film's length has compromised its heart.
Simply put, if you are into epic battle scenes you will likely enjoy "Prince Caspian." This installment has plenty of them - including a final battle that overstays its welcome - stretching the film to an unnecessarily long 137 minutes. The character development and spiritual themes present in the first film are down-played, giving "Prince Caspian" room to showcase its excellent, grand scale production values. This comes at a cost, however: the film lacks the kind of heart that allows the most memorable sequels to raise the bar on their predecessors and increase the adulation of its fan base.
In the flash of an eye, we are taken (with the Pevensie children) from London's Strand tube station back to Narnia, where 1300 years have passed since their last visit and much has changed. 'Things never happen the same way twice,' Aslan the lion with the magnificent mane wisely says, as Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy once again find themselves swept into an adventure involving Prince Caspian's reclaiming of his throne. Ben Barnes is a suitable choice for the tall, dark, handsome and athletic Prince who is shepherded to safety from his scheming, ambitious uncle Miraz, powerfully portrayed by Sergio Castellitto. There are power struggles, large-scale battles and there's even a hint of romance between Caspian and Anna Popplewell's Susan, who has blossomed into a beautiful young woman. Georgie Henley's Lucy is appealing as the youngest Pevensie: it is her innocence and ability to believe that allows her to see what the others do not.
The film doesn't let up either when it comes to the battle scenes, which involve heads being lopped off and cute sword-wielding mice slitting people's throats. But as bad as that sounds, the violent moments come off as rather tame because if I remember correctly, there is barely any blood and most of the carnage happens off-screen so you can't really see any gruesome images.
The action also gets dragged at times because most of the actors obviously lack experience dueling against others with swords and it can get somewhat annoying, especially during the showdown between Peter and Miraz. Whenever Moseley lifts his blade the footage goes into slow motion so it's harder for the audience to notice his deficiencies.
But aside from a few minor problems and some snarls in the story, Ã¢â¬ÅPrince CaspianÃ¢â¬ï¿½ is a worthy addition to the Ã¢â¬ÅChronicles of NarniaÃ¢â¬ï¿½ franchise and I can easily see why people would find it more enjoyable than Ã¢â¬ÅThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.Ã¢â¬ï¿½
And if Adamson can keep this trend up of outdoing himself with each film, then I hope it's not too long before we get another chance to experience the enthralling world of Narnia.