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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » June 25, 2008
Film review
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The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
June 25, 2008 By Witold Żygulski   
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After The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe proved a box office hit at the beginning of 2006, a sequel was just a matter of time. The first adaptation of the seven-part series of books about the magic world of Narnia by C.S. Lewis drew positive reviews from critics and a warm reception from viewers, who said the film preserved the spirit of the novel. They also marveled at the refreshing performances by the young cast and praised the movie for its restrained use of special effects and largely suggestive depiction of violence, thanks to which even young children could be safely taken to see the film.

The sequel, however, falls short in most of these areas. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is more a banal action movie than a sophisticated fairy tale. The characters spend most of the movie fighting, and the battle scenes, many of which bear little resemblance to those in the book, are in the style of The Lord of the Rings or Willow from 1988. Scenes of slaughter are shown much more graphically than in The Lion, and the subtle script of the first movie gives way to the nonstop clanking of swords and swish of arrows in flight.

One year after the first visit to Narnia, the British Pevensie siblings are once again transported from World War II London to the wonderland of Narnia. What to them has been a year since their previous journey has been over 1,300 years for Narnia. The siblings have grown up a little and the elder two, Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell), are starting to feel the angst of adolescence. Their younger brother Edmund (Skandar Keynes) is about to reach that age, while their little sister Lucy (Georgie Henley) has not changed much.

But Narnia has. The evil Telmarines people have conquered the land and exterminated almost all living creatures in the fabulous forest. Those that remain, irrespective of how much they resemble man, have lost their mildness of character from the old times and act aggressively towards anybody who steps into the woods. The children's first encounter with a bear shows that the old world of Narnia is gone for good.

A young prince by the name of Caspian (Ben Barnes-Stardust), the rightful heir to the throne, offers the promise of restoring peace so that different species can live side by side. His malevolent uncle Miraz (Sergio Castellitto-Paris, I Love You) tries to kill Caspian and when the assassination plot goes wrong, he orders his generals to attack the young prince in the Narnia forest and kill any witnesses. In the meantime, Miraz takes over power and transforms himself from regent into king. The last hope are the newcomers from London, who have lived on in Narnia legends as four kings backed by the omnipotent and immortal lion named Aslan. The rest is easy to figure out.

The best scenes in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian are those with animals. A talkative badger and fearless mice which are not even scared of cats steal the show. Not that this is difficult, as the human characters are played with little imagination. The actors in the roles of the four siblings merely capitalize on their performances in the first movie and the titular Caspian proves nothing special. The villains in the movie are no match for Tilda Swinton (Michael Clayton, Broken Flowers, Constantine), the White Witch from The Lion. Too bad she only appears briefly in a short scene in the new movie.
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