After “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” and a patient 3 year wait, “Prince Caspian” was quite a disappointment. Of course the cinematography is just as beautiful as in the prequel, but it is the breath-taking locales where the movie has been shot that deserve praise, and not the director, Andrew Adams. The surety of touch in the camera manoeuvres is thoroughly successful in convincing us that Narnia is a place quite out of this world.
Why this review starts with the technicalities, rather than a discussion of the plot or screenplay is because those are the areas where Prince Caspian falls short. “Prince Caspian” starts in medias res with Caspian’s aunt giving birth to a baby boy and his uncle giving orders for Caspian to be assassinated so that his son may become heir to the throne. Of course, the namesake of the movie cannot be allowed to have 50 arrows piercing his body in the first 10 minutes of the movie, and so Caspian makes a heroic escape on horse-back over wood and dale. He is pursued by the army of his evil uncle who chase him past the dense forests into Narnia where he blows Queen Susan’s magical horn, thereby summoning the Pevensies from our world into his.
From the moment Caspian and Susan share screen space they surreptitiously eye each other and we witness the germs of a flirtatious affair that leads to…well, nothing, because Susan is, after all, 1300 years older than Caspian and has to return to London where another lame bespectacled potato-look-alike boy flirts with her, albeit with less finesse than Ben Barnes (Caspian), who’s quite an eye-candy, though not as much as Skandar Keynes (Edmund), who’s grown up to be quite the man in the past 3 years. As for the heterosexual boys, guys, men, etc and the homosexual females in the audience (yes, I need to mention all the types, because sexuality has really become such a sensitive issue, and I don’t want to be accused of political incorrectness, plus mentioning the word ‘homosexual’ will ensure this review turns up in a lot more google searches than it otherwise would have). I’m sorry but there isn’t any eye-candy for you connoisseurs of female beauty…Georgie Henley (Lucy) is just a kid and only Caspian finds Anna Popplewell (Susan) attractive, that too because he has been ordered by the director to do so.
(Sorry for the diversion. But this should give you a taste of the movie itself… the plot bores you to such a great deal that you begin to count the number of buttons on Caspian’s brocade mantle and notice that with lips that size Anna Popplewell might just be the next generation Angelina Jolie). The rest of the story follows the ancient rules of good Vs evil as Prince Caspian, the Pevensies and the magical creatures of Narnia unite to fight a victorious battle for their freedom against the Telmarines (whom we call ‘humans’!) led by Caspian’s evil uncle. I wish Caspian and Peter’s temptation by the White Witch to set her free with her false promise that she will fight on their side had been developed further, because that would have allowed a more balanced characterisation by showing the “few good men” not just as insuperable heroes, but also their very humane moments of weakness.
Oops…did this review contain too many spoilers without warning? Ah…what does it matter, I’m sure even before reading this everyone knew just as well that good would triumph over evil…that’s the universal happy ending rule, especially when it comes to children’s fiction, such as this is.
Yet, when we read this same plot-line in Lewis’ words it was so arresting that the only time we put the book down was when we took a shower, and then too we were constantly wondering if the centaurs escaped or if Lucy found Aslan. It is C. S. Lewis’ amazing gift at story telling that keeps us hanging onto his every word. And it is exactly this that Andrew Adams shows a lack of in this movie. The scenes jump from one to the next, and some of the links to the story remain unexplained, and even the battle sequences do not manage to evoke the edge-of-the-seat suspense the prequel did.
Perhaps the most disappointing part of the movie and shockingly so, is the ending, where Aslan grows back the tail he’s lost at war on Reepicheep, the valiant mouse. This shamefully farcical ending is definitely not deserved by a classic of the ranks of the “The Chronicles of Narnia.” I do not know how Adams, who created quite a masterpiece himself in Lewis’ stead with “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, made such a mess of “Prince Caspian.” Here’s wishing Adams all the luck for the next Chronicle of Narnia- cheers!