“Prince Caspian” Update

My least favorite part of Andrew Adamson’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe… the unimaginative, excessive battle scene.

So imagine how I felt today as I read  this news in Variety: “Helmer Andrew Adamson delivered a taped message saying that, unlike the original, Prince Caspian will feature ‘battles all the way through.'”

You know, I try to avoid cynicism. But sometimes, Hollywood lives up to its own worst caricature.

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Don't you hate these ugly click-bait ads? Visit LookingCloser.org for a bigger, better, ad-free version of Jeffrey Overstreet's blog. Jeffrey Overstreet is the senior film critic for Christianity Today, the author of Through a Screen Darkly and Auralia's Colors, and he teaches writing and film at Seattle Pacific University, Houston Baptist University, and Northwest University.

  • petertchattaway

    There is a moment in the climactic battle sequence that brings together *two* incongruous elements.

    First, Peter tells Edmund to go get the girls and return to England without him. This is not an entirely new element, since the entire film — unlike the book — has been harping away at the notion that the Pevensies don’t *want* to be in Narnia and are very, very, very reluctant to assume the responsibilities of kingship and queenship. Where it becomes incongruous is that, as soon as the battle is over, the Pevensies promptly forget all about England and decide to stick around in Narnia for a few decades. Lewis’s book is a fairy tale in which it is simply assumed that children want to sit on thrones, etc. The film, on the other hand, follows the pseudo-realist course of making the children doubt, and doubt, and doubt their destiny… until the very end, when suddenly, for no particular reason, it’s fairy-tale time again.

    Second, when Peter tells Edmund to flee the battle and go back to England, Mr Beaver promptly tells Edmund to do what Peter says. But all throughout the film, Mr. Beaver has been the most ardent believer in the prophecy and in the Pevensies’ ability to fulfill that prophecy. I was startled when even Mr Beaver turned out to be ready and willing to drop his beliefs at a moment’s notice — and it didn’t seem like the filmmakers had any idea how significant this was.

    That’s just the first example that comes to mind.

    And then there are the character revisions: the way that the bombing sequence at the beginning of the film ends on a note which makes Edmund the sympathetic character and Peter the cluelessly insensitive elder brother … whereas Lewis is pretty clear that Edmund was a bad boy until his experiences in Narnia, and Peter does nothing in Lewis’s book to earn Edmund’s contempt. Andrew Adamson openly admits on the DVD commentary that he is a middle child and so he wanted to make Edmund more likable, but revisions like these muddy the moral clarity of Lewis’s fairy tale.

  • phillytle

    When you say *incongrous*, do you mean; inconsistent, out of place, inappropriate, incompatible, etc…? Would you mind giving some examples as to how the action scenes introduce incongruous story elelments? I don’t write this with any agenda, but only to see what it is about the story that you feel was damaged by the addtions.

    I agree that Adamson does not seem to have found his own voice. Yet. I hope that he makes strides in that department with Prince Caspian. And if he doesn’t, I guess we can always hope that Michael Apted will show greater vision in the next installment.

  • petertchattaway

    Phil, I agree that one shouldn’t get too hung up over any one particular scene, but it is the *cumulative* effect of all those scenes that gives me pause. And the consistent feeling I had throughout the film’s various action sequences was that Adamson was imitating other filmmakers but had little of his own vision or inspiration to share with the audience.

    The fact that the film’s action scenes introduce incongrous story elements, as well as character revisions that undermine Lewis’s themes, just adds to the lameness of those scenes.

  • phillytle


    Well, I guess adding the “and all” really didn’t capture my sentiment the way I had hoped. I enjoyed the movie, as a whole, with all of its little tangents and add-ons. My comment wasn’t directed towards anyone, it was simply an attempt to put my next comments in context.

    Personally, I don’t feel that the battle scene in the original is that *bad*. It might not hold up next to some of the great battle scenes in history, but it still effectively presents the concept of courage and valor.

    To be honest, getting hung up on the opening bomber sequence is just looking for something to get hung up on. It is too short and too insignificant to get upset with.

    I do agree that Adamson needs to show some improvement in this next outing. Considering that The Lion,… was his first live action feature film, we have to hope that he learned some things during the process that he will be able to apply to Prince Caspian.

  • petertchattaway

    “I actually enjoyed the first movie, battle scene and all…”

    Oh, but it’s not just the one battle scene at the end. There is also the opening bomber sequence… and the stand-off at the frozen waterfall… and one or two other scenes that were put there just to add “action” which is not in the book. The mere fact that these additions are gratuitous and unnecessary would not be so bad if they had not also been done so *badly*. Even the climactic battle sequence feels like a pale imitation of other, better battle scenes. If the next film is nothing *but* gratuitous violence, and if Adamson *hasn’t* improved as a director since making his first film, then the second film is going to … not be a good experience.

  • phillytle

    I actually enjoyed the first movie, battle scene and all, but I do understand your concern with this comment. I am holding out hope that a new director will do for this franchise what replacing Chris Columbus with Alfonso Cuaron did for the Harry Potter series.

  • http://www.campbell.edu/coas/english/index.html elrambo

    Perhaps I’ll just read the books again and try to forget movies exist.

    Will Michael Apted save us, do you think?