The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
As children, we were better equipped to live in a world of fantasy. We would put our school work and chores off to the side and create a universe of sheer imagination. As we grow into our adult roles of responsibilities and the work of earning a living we seem to forget the release and joy of letting go of the mundane and traveling in pure fantasy. When an adult can channel that childlike wonder and also has the literary talent to commit those ideas to words it is magical. There have been a few such authors who have gone so far as to create an entire universe out of their fantasies complete with their own rules, locations, and characters. Examples of these gifted people include the likes of such greats as J.R.R. Tolkien, J. K. Rowling, and C.S. Lewis. All of them took their fantasies and shared them their series of novels to the delight of children and adults alike. In years past there has been a lot of interest in bringing these books to the big screen but there was no way to convey the flights of fancy realistically on camera, and the vision and scope of these works were far too grand for the animation to do them justice. Now that computers have advanced to the point where anything that can be imagined can be displayed seamlessly alongside real actors it is possible to bring these masterpieces of fantasy to film. The works of Rowlings and Tolkien have provided film franchise that has brought incredible joy to audiences, and now the works of Lewis are being given a similar opportunity. The first of his novels to receive this treatment, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ thrilled audiences around the world. Now the second installment in this new franchise, ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’ has made its mark in cinema. It is also available on DVD and Blu-ray through Buena Vista. The budget for this film soared past the $160 million of the first film to $200 million, and the result is well worth it. The film is a technological wonder that makes the world of Naria seem like it exists. Some may argue that it is a lesser work than those with Hobbits or a young wizard named Harry, but this is an excellent example of a world of fantasy and rightfully loved by millions of fans. The world is in dire shape at the moment, and this is the perfect way to forget those cares and allow yourself to transported to a place of adventure and wonder.
The difficult task of bringing the intricate story written by Lewis too life went to three men; Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, and Stephen McFeely. All three had a hand in creating the script for the first film of this series. McFeely also worked on a couple of films besides those dealing with Narnia both with his writing partner Markus. As a writer, Adamson is used to fantasy. His other credits besides the two Narnia screenplays were the second and third installments of the hugely popular Shrek animated film series. This is a team that works very well together and has experience in bringing a fantasy to life. They also know how to tell a story in such a way as to be enjoyable to all ages. For a film like this to reach its potential it has to be understandable on several levels. The children will be amazed by the talking animals and action while the adults will grasp the deeper more philosophical message that was originated by C.S. Lewis. It has to be extremely difficult for screenplay writer to adapt the work on a famous author. They have to tread the thin line between preserving the original content of the novel while condensing it to fit in a film of reasonable length. Telling a story on film has different demands and requirements than in literature. This team did a reasonable job, but some compromises were necessary. The majestic lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) has a greatly reduced role compared to the novel. Most likely due to the expectations raised by the Lord of the Rings trilogy the battle scenes have been greatly expanded in this rendition. Part of the explanation for this is simple. This was a pre-summer release, and it would have to go head to head against the action-oriented summer blockbusters. This shift in the focus does have the positive effect of expanding this from a film regarded as only a children’s flick. The story also has a noticeably darker tone than the previous film. This is to be expected and is typical of a second movie in a planned longer series. Lastly, there is the heightened anticipation of the fans; each film in a franchise like this as to be bigger and more intense than the previous one.
Adamson also intensified his directorial style for this film. It is important to remember that he was under the constraint of bringing in a family-friendly PG movie. The battle scenes are nowhere near as bloody as those shown in the PG-13 Lord of the Rings trilogy. The closest thing to a romantic moment is a chaste kiss between the titular character and one of the four main children. Adamson has a real knack for incorporating computer effects into a live action movie. It has to be very difficult to get performances as we see here from young actors against a green screen with little to work off of except maybe a tennis ball on a stick to set the eye level. Adamson does this nearly perfectly. He manages to deliver a film that is slightly better than the first of the series.
A year has passed in the human world for the Pevensie siblings Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell). Back in the magical world of Narnia, it has been 1,300 years since they left. Caspian (Ben Barnes) is the crowned prince of the Telmarine people. When the family physician informs Caspian that his aunt has given birth, he also learns that there is now a treat to his assuming the throne and his life is in danger. Caspian is sent away with a magical horn to be used only in a case of dire need. Now that his Uncle Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) has an heir he can ascend to be king. Back in our world, the Pevensie children are at a train station when suddenly they are pulled back to Narnia. They are told that Aslan has been missing for many centuries and if they do not help Caspian defeat his uncle and claim the throne all of Narnia will be cast into an unthinkable time of darkness and evil. They are dismayed that the Narnia they once knew was in rubble, but they locate their old weapons and once more take on the mission to save the land.
Since Buena Vista is a distribution division of the Disney studio, it should come as no surprise that they know how to bring a family film to your home. There are both DVD and Blu-ray editions available but if you can go for the Blu-ray. I have reviewed both, and the high definition and lossless audio of the Blu-ray will show off your system. The 1080p video here is fantastic. It is so clear and the colors so vivid that you will feel that you are in the middle of the action. There are no artifacts or video glitches to be found. The Dolby 7.1 audio is something perfect. Every little sound is audible creating a soundstage that is one of the best I have ever encountered. It is quality like this that high definition shines. This is a disc that you will use to impress your friends. Typical of a released from this company there are more than enough extras to keep the entire family entertained for hours after the film is over.
Posted 11/22/08 Posted 07/18/2018