The family took in a matinee showing of Prince Caspian. I’d heard mediocre reviews, so I had low expectations. I knew they’d have to add some subplot because the book is pretty thin, and the long narration of Caspian’s boyhood would have been out of place in an action/adventure movie (which is how they’re billing the franchise).
Many of the reviews complain that there’s little character development,
and while I can see their point, I do think that the expansion of
Peter’s temptation was a good choice to ramp up the dramatic energy.
But Peter was never in any real danger, thanks to Edmund’s wisdom, so
that moment came and went quickly.
Edmund has settled into playing his older brother’s wiser (but no less
brave) right-hand man; he battled his demons in the last book, and
he’ll be back, so I can understand why he didn’t have much screen time.
His expression of trust in Lucy’s vision of Aslan was touching.
A romance between Susan and Caspian was not part of the book, but it
fits very nicely into the structure of the story. Susan’s disapproval
as she sees how similar both Caspian and Peter are, is nicely mirrored
by her happiness when both boys demonstrate restraint at a climactic
point. I’m not sure my six-year-old caught the subtlety, but it was
handled intelligently; and an added scene with Susan and Caspian also
gives Lucy a reason to go on a mission by herself, which highlighted
her transformation. Seeing her walking beside Aslan, daintily drawing a
tiny dagger at a key moment, was a delight.
Thanks to the Lord of the Rings movies, we’ve already seen CGI waves
wash away horsemen, flying creatures storming a stronghold, and warrior
trees, so there were some “ho hum” moments when I was clearly supposed
to be stunned by the spectacle, but instead I just thought, “Yeah,
that’s a pretty good effect.” The final return to the train station
was very well done — one of those special effects that sneaks up on
you without calling attention to itself.
The film did a good job presenting Peter as a battle-hardened veteran
with something to prove, but it wasn’t very clear why Edmund and Susan
also thought the battle was still worth fighting. I had to draw on what
I knew from the Narnia books to fill in the details.
I was worried that the cute talking squirrel would lead the movie into
a Jar-Jar kind of hell, but they didn’t do much with him or the Bulgy
Bears or the giant. The fact that I wanted more of Reepicheep means
they handled him nicely (though his big scene with Aslan came across as
a little forced).
The emo song that started playing during the final scene didn’t appeal
to me, and the Telmarine society never really seemed real to me
(changes to the plot structure means we don’t get to see the glimpses
of civilian life that form a big part of Aslan’s role in the book), but
we’ll definitely by the DVD when it comes out. It was a good fantasy
film, with a simple plot, stylized battles that are intense but not