Monday, May 19, 2008

TCON: Prince Caspian review

Earning a solid $56 million at the domestic box office on its opening weekend, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian definitely deserves some recognition. It has dethroned Iron Man, as the next big blockbuster of Summer '08, and I thought it high time I share my two cents on the film.

Simply put I really enjoyed this film, but let's take that in the proper context. It is pretty much impossible not to compare this film to it's predecessor The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, which is actually a very good thing. Because while I enjoyed the first film overall, I had some serious gripes with the mixed bag of CG, and sometimes melodramatic acting. This film work hard from the start to set straight everything fans picked at in the first film, and honestly, it completely succeeds.

Where Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has mixed CG ranging from grand and sweeping to utter crap, Prince Caspian uses less noticeable CG backgrounds (probably more characters though), and executes them leagues better than the last time. It is amazing how much more I enjoyed a 'creatures' performance when I'm not looking for aliasing, and poor lip syncing. Of course some of the more elaborate characters, like Trufflehunter are still patently computer generated, it is a whole other world from what we got with the beaver family. I was able to let myself fall into the story more because the technology didn't pull me out of it. Now I'm not sure that is really praise for Caspian or more of a negative on TLTWATW, but I look at it as a good thing no matter what. Also it should definitely be noted that there wasn't as much call for sweeping CG shots in this film. Unlike the first film, this one takes place for the most part, in one central location, leading to a refinement in the overall look of that primary sets practical and CG elements.

Ahh the story. The story is the key. Why didn't I talk about the story first? Well, I suppose its because I expect most of you to know it, or at least the basics of it. The story here does not disappoint. It is more mature than the first film, darker and more nuanced. It's a more adult story that takes a more pointed and honest look at faith and sacrifice. Erica walked out of the theater and proclaimed that the film reminded her of the crusades, 'violent and very Gody'. And it was both. The first film had a a great battle sequence at the end, but this one is kind of nuts. It is really full of dramatic and physical action throughout. The battle is amped up from the first film, more fierce and ruthless. One review I read, was really taken by how Disney removed all traced of blood. But that said, this film has a lot of death in it, a lot of sad moments where heroes die or are lost. It is, as I said a very mature story that definitely treads that fine ratings line between PG and PG-13. The tale itself is great though, it is heartfelt and deals with real emotions, and the actors pulled it off, especially Ben Barnes as Caspian, excellently.

The themes and religious overtones are all still there, and in fact, more on the nose in this film than the previous one but I don't fault the film for that. It remains true to what it is and while it could just be the the WASP in me, I thought it was kind of refreshing to see a family movie deal with faith, especially kids and young adults take on faith in such an honest way. This is definitely a Christian film, but its not trying to hide it for the masses and trick them into watching something preachy. I can respect that.

Prince Caspian is a very charged movie. It resonated with me and I hope will with you. There was strong acting, well written dialogue, excellently choreographed action, a much more developed take on the technology bringing the world to life, and I think a much steadier hand at the direction by Andrew Adamson.

Go see The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian if you can while its still in theaters. I think you'll enjoy it.

1 comment:

Bernard said...


*** "The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe" Really I think that acronyms are getting wickedly too overused... but that's just me.