Movie Review: Prince Caspian
By Matthew Huntley
May 27, 2008
Anyone unfamiliar with The Chronicles of Narnia, either as movies or as part of C.S. Lewis' classic literary series, should not start their experience with Prince Caspian. Even though this is an exciting, action-packed fantasy, not having seen the first installment, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (or having read the book), may leave you scratching your head over the story and characters. The movie doesn't provide the usual recap montage that brings us up to speed on the plot. You would still do yourself a service to see Prince Caspian because of how well-made and entertaining it is, but take the time to familiarize yourself with the Narnia world first.
With that said, there isn't much of a story to Prince Caspian. It is more or less a series of chase scenes and battle sequences, both on large and small scales. Like many sequels, this one doesn't have to bother setting up its premise or most of its characters. Unfortunately, it also doesn't develop them much more than it did the first time around. The movie is mostly action and spectacle, but unlike Speed Racer, the action and spectacle in Prince Caspian serve a purpose and have a greater consequence. They're also more varied and staged with such vibrant, noticeable detail, they generate a considerable rush.
The story finds the four young Pevensie children - Peter (William Moseley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Susan (Anna Popplewell), and Lucy (Georgie Henley) - returning to Narnia 1300 years after their first visit. You'll recall in the first movie (or maybe you won't) they discovered Narnia, a magical world filled with dwarves, centaurs, minotaur and other mythical creatures, through a wardrobe. Here they met Aslan, a gold-furred lion voiced by Liam Neeson who's also Narnia's leader and protector, and joined him in fending off the evil White Witch (Tilda Swinton). The Pevenises stayed in Narnia through their adulthood as kings and queens, but at the end of the story, they returned to London and became children again.
It is now one year later for them, and they're magically summoned back when Susan's horn in Narnia is blown (they transport to Narnia via the London underground). Only Narnia isn't the same place as when they left. It now lay in ruins after a horrific genocide has taken place by a race of men called Telmarines, who wiped out the Narnians and drove them into exile in the woods. The Telmarines are now led by the tyrannical Miraz (Sergio Catelitto), who ordered the death of his own brother, Caspian IX. After Miraz's wife bears a song, Miraz orders the death of his nephew and the kingdom's next true heir, Prince Caspian X (Ben Barnes).
Thanks to a warning from his tutor, Cornelius (Vincent Grass), who also taught him the history of the Narnians, Prince Caspian escapes to the woods. He meets the now-bitter exiles and discovers the stories were true, vowing to lead them against the Telmarines and restore their freedom. One of the dwarves, a feisty but loveable fellow named Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage), is saved by the Pevensies from near death. They all join Caspian in the good fight to free Narnia.