The sequel to 2005's hugely popular "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which was the first of C.S. Lewis' seven-volume Narnia series to be filmed by Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media, "Prince Caspian" is both like its predecessor and different from it. Though it retains a kid-friendly PG rating and is directed with a surer hand by the returning Andrew Adamson, this film is noticeably darker in tone, even beginning with the piercing scream of a woman in childbirth.
In line with that mood, "Prince Caspian" provides not one but two elaborate battle set pieces that, taken together, make up a noticeable chunk of its 2-hour-and-18-minute length, pitting the polyglot Narnians, including dwarfs, centaurs, minotaurs, wonderful flying gryphons and intrepid fighting mice, against the endless hoards of an evil group called the Telmarines.
Using a cast and crew of close to 2,000 and some of the best special effects houses in the world (including Weta Digital in New Zealand) to produce more than 1,600 CGI shots, "Prince Caspian" is very much the kind of adventure epic that believes you can never have too much galloping.
Though the film makes sure that nary a drop of blood is shed in those battles -- remember, this is the land of PG -- all that fighting does make for an occasionally off-kilter mix with the kinder, gentler parts of the endeavor. Like a teenager having trouble finding its place in the world, "Prince Caspian" rights itself in the end but doesn't always have an easy time finding its balance.
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