Fran and Rhiannon and I went to see Prince Caspian last night. Just a few thoughts on it…
- It is definitely a sequel. If you haven’t seen (or read) The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe first, I suspect much of the story simply won’t make sense. The pace is faster than the first film, and assumes you are familiar with the characters and events from before.
- It takes more liberties with the story than did the movie adaptation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But I think it works fine, in that it has faithfully rendered many of the book’s most delightful and dramatic scenes (the haunting return to Cair Paravel, the meeting between Trumpkin and the Pevensie children, the combat between Peter and Miraz, the temptation to conjure the white witch, and Reepiceep’s plea to have Aslan restore his severed tail). Furthermore, the moral of the story — that faith is not just given to us gratuitously, that it requires taking real risks, often risks that are both unpopular and apparently foolish — remains intact.
- Best special effect: the destruction of the bridge at Beruna. Meanwhile, the reawakening of the forest out-ents the ents in The Two Towers.
- Reepiceep steals every scene that he is in. Considering that he is a major character in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, this bodes well for the next film.
- The movie unpacks how Caspian relates to both Peter and Susan. The spark between Caspian and Susan is quite lovely and understated, but the rivalry between him and Peter strikes me as the movie’s major misstep — with no satisfactory resolution provided.
- The other flat note is Peter’s fight at the Strand Underground Station at the beginning of the film. What was that all about? I fail to see how it added anything to the story, other than underlining just how imperfect he is by suggesting he’s a bit trigger-happy — a point that is clearly made over the course of the story.
- Peter Dinklage, whom you probably know as Miles the “angry elf” in Elf or Peter the gay extortionist in Death at a Funeral, totally nails the role of Trumpkin.
- As in the book, this movie really underplays the religious allegory. It’s message is about faith and trust, and I think anyone — of any faith perspective — could relate to it.
- What I didn’t expect: how the movie subtly reinforced the idea that this story has echoes of the Arthurian legend of the once and future king; and how joyfully the sense of Lucy’s love for the spirits of the trees (a love she finds mirrored in Aslan) tickled my Celtic soul.
It was a fun movie. I think it satisfactorily propels the story forward, and makes the most out of what is arguably the weakest of the seven Narnia novels. Like the first movie, I came away with a clear sense that this is not in the same league as Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings — but then again, Lewis’s books are not in the same league as Tolkien’s. So it all hangs together quite well. Expect a nicely done fantasy for young adults (never mind it has a PG rating!) and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.