Prince Caspian Movie Reviews: More Swordfights, Less Lewis? ~ BitterSweetLife

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Prince Caspian Movie Reviews: More Swordfights, Less Lewis?

Lindsay and I went to see Iron Man as a graduation celebration thing, and that movie was spectacular. It was a classic case of having no expectations and being very well rewarded for not having them. As a study in contrasts, what I've been hearing about Prince Caspian makes me apprehensive about seeing the film.

As I geared up for the release, I knew the second Narnia film would be darker and more martial--as is C.S. Lewis' book. What I wasn't expecting was a sequel to the Lord of the Rings movies featuring talking animals... Here's some of the chatter I'm hearing.

Andrew Adamson is finally making the big epic fantasy battle movie that he really wanted to make the first time around, and his devotion to that vision holds Prince Caspian together and makes it a more consistent, and consistently entertaining, sort of film than Wardrobe was. But in steering the film closer to his own vision, Adamson steers it away from Lewis's, and so it loses some of the book's core spiritual themes. - Peter Chattaway

Prince Caspian
, by the reasoning of Walden executives, no doubt needed to be a more mature movie or else run the risk of losing the newly-blossoming teenagers who saw the first one. Enter Prince Caspian—no longer the boy he is in the book, but now Ben Barnes, a one-dimensional, chiseled emblem of masculinity (also 27 years old in real life...) who speaks in a supposedly sexy Mediterranean accent—and we have something for the teenage girls. Now take Susan Pevensie (Anna Popplewell, 19 years old), make her look like she just beat Amy Winehouse in an eyeliner duel, and we have something for the teenage boys. - Timothy Zila

This Aslan was an absent, passive, weak figure who did not belong to the story. It seems that the Disney/Walden people, without the clear death-and-resurrection myth around which to center the plot, simply didn’t know what to do with Him. So they decided to write a new story, one about doubt and distance and only dreaming your faith is true. That story, they must have reasoned, is more relevant to today’s society. - Sørina Higgins

The film version of Narnia does Lewis justice to not try to capture his literary genius on film. It does better to focus on its own form (spectacularized summer blockbuster) and wow the audience with cinematic wonder, in the way Lewis wows us with his poetic literary whimsy. One might complain, for example, that the film transforms Susan into a Tarantino-esque killing machine, wielding a bow-and-arrow with Legolas-like tenacity. But this is a film, built around action, so it’s much better to have our heroine Susan smack-dab in the middle of it all rather than cheering from the off-camera sidelines. - Brett McCracken

All this is kind of disquieting. Then we have a few people saying that Prince Caspian, the movie, is better than Prince Caspian, the book--but I guess there are a handful of crackpots willing to jump on every bandwagon.

Seriously, I know Caspian wasn't Lewis' strongest Narnia book, but the idea of Andrew Adamson, WETA, and a boy-band Caspian outdoing Lewis is like a tag-team of midgets taking on the Incredible Hulk. On his worst day, Lewis is a better storyteller than anyone in Hollywood at this moment. But wait, am I being overly biased? Am I failing to give this very talented production crew a fair shake, or being snidely dismissive as I imply that the following two writers were on drugs when they wrote their reviews? Naaw. Anyway, here's the counter-perspective.
Prince Caspian was the second to be written in the series, and it’s rushed and thin... most of the book is occupied with the Pevensies’ struggle to cross mountains and rivers to get to him... When they finally meet Caspian there is a brief battle and a happy ending, and before you know it you’re running into the opening pages of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (a much better book). Prince Caspian, the movie, fixes all this. It knits a whole lot more story around that spare frame, and the plot gains traction while the characters gain complexity. The movie is just plain better than the book. - Frederica Matthews-Green

This is a splendid family film and a reminder that movie making is not a second class artistic cousin to literature. The acting is solid throughout. Peter in particular is much better in this film than the first. He is given a greater emotional range and handles it well. Caspian earned cries of delight from our nearly sixteen daughter . . . and the touch of romance in the film was welcome. We are all glad we will get to see Caspian more in the next film. - John Mark Reynolds

Any other opinions out there? When we make it to the theater, I'll post my take.

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R. Sherman said...

My daughter (almost 17) liked it. In fact, she saw it twice in two nights. She thought it was better done than the first movie, which she also liked.

For what that's worth.


asha said...

Hey I have not yet seen Prince Caspian.
My inclination towards the movie keeps increasing by all the reviews that i hear about it.
I would be watching it soon.
Can't wait...

littlepeace said...

I didn't like the first movie.
I didn't expect to like the second.
I did.
It's true that they changed some things or added some things that didn't need to be changed or added, but I can sort of see why they did. It sets up the fact that Susan never returns to Narnia ever, at any rate.

Will Robison said...

I can't disagree with any of the reviews. But for my own $4.50's worth (adjusted upwards by the rising price of gas) I will say that I barely liked it. I barely disliked the first one and I barely liked this one. But my entire review can be found on my blog.

Ariel said...

Some positive comments give me hope...and then Will shoots the movie down. I can tell I'll just have to go into this one ready for anything. There aren't any teenage girls in our family, though, which hurts the probability of a positive outcome.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife