Monday, May 19, 2008

More on Prince Caspian


Here is a round-up of blogger reviews of Prince Caspian.

Ross Douthat has mixed feelings, noting that this was the weakest of the Narnia series:

I'm still sorting through my own thoughts before I buckle down to write my NR review, but after spending some time marinating in the Narniaphile reaction, I think that to the extent I liked the movie, it was largely for the same reasons as Frederica Mathewes-Greene: The filmmakers took what is easily the weakest of the Narnia novels, rejiggered the narrative and altered the plot, and produced an entertaining, swashbuckling medieval war movie set against a Narnian backdrop. To the extent that I disliked the movie, meanwhile, it was for the same reasons as Steven Greydanus: In the course of making a poorly-constructed book into an entertaining fantasy adventure, the filmmakers largely purged the original story of its most distinctive thematic elements, and the results owe more to Braveheart and Lord of the Rings, in certain ways, than they do to C.S. Lewis.

Having registered this complaint, though, I can't help be disappointed over Caspian's disappointing box office. Precisely because I've had issues with both of the first two adaptations, I've been looking forward to seeing what a director untainted by the Shrek franchise can do with the later books of Narnia (especially my three favorites), and the worse Caspian does, the greater the chances that it'll be Dawn Treader and out for the franchise.


Hunter of Beyond Faith Ministry, was disappointed:

The movie itself was not bad; it just wasn’t the summer blockbuster that we expected. The main problem I had with this movie was Peter and Caspian being side by side. Peter, who looked like and acted a child, is the High King, and Caspian, who looked like he actually had a clue how to survive in this world, had to listen to Peter and call him Sire. I do understand the time jump, and that Aslan named them kings and queens, and so forth, but it just did not pull off well between the two. All the rest of the cast did very well and I enjoyed them. My wife and I both left the theater saying “It was OK…I just liked the first one much better.”



Adam Frazier
is even more critical:

“Prince Caspian” is completely devoid of spirit and style. Adamson’s visual direction is not his strong suit. Everything feels completely generic, like a fantasy paint-by-numbers. His transitions between scenes are awkward and the character development simply goes nowhere. Instead of introducing characters and working on each separately, slowly intertwining them into the story, Adamson dumps them all out on the table at once like a child wanting to show off his favorite toys.

The result is a messy, clumsy movie. The set pieces are just that, pieces. Everything looks shiny and new, even the 1300 ruins. So many times throughout the movie it’s obvious that we’re seeing something because it was built so for the movie. The background scenery feels less magical and fantastical and more like… well, Oregon.

The poorly written dialogue is delivered ineptly from the child actors, who still can’t carry a film. Newcomer Ben Barnes isn’t completely awful as Prince Caspian, but his performance is undercooked and fails to live up to the character. This is probably the most unfortunate thing about this movie – I never cared once for anything the characters said or did. The only stars to stand out in this otherwise mundane cast are Warwick Davis and Peter Dinklage as the dwarfs.

The world felt counterfeit from the get-go and never was I convinced that Narnia might possibly exist – that these creatures were real and wise. Instead I felt like I was watching a Disney cartoon in which talking animals cause tomfoolery and shenanigans while the human characters stumble over their own feet until the conclusion of the film.

“Prince Caspian” is not a bad film. While it’s a dragged-out exercise in how to make an epic with no epic scale, there is nothing so atrocious in the film that I would say it isn’t worth seeing. Adamson delivers another completely generic and uninteresting movie. Small children will find delight and humor in the animal characters, and enough action to keep them in their seats but older moviegoers will find little to chew on and even less they haven’t seen before.


Other bloggers comment here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The overwhelming consensus: an entertaining film, but one that did not meet expectations. It may well be, as Ross notes, that the problem lies with the fact that this is one of the weaker in the Narnia series. This is too bad, because one of the themes of the book--faith in an age of doubt has real relevance today.

I still plan on seeing this film!

2 comments:

Helen said...

Thanks for the link to my review.

The overwhelming consensus: an entertaining film, but one that did not meet expectations.

Actually it exceeded my expectations.

If you think figuring out how to rely on God even when God seems to be inexplicably absent is a reality of the Christian life then go see it. If you think even good men are tempted by revenge and ambition go see it. If you appreciate movie makers who will remove sexism from a story rather than faithfully carry it over to the big screen then go see it. If you like the awesome special effects possible in movies today then go see it.

But I think you were going to go see it anyway :)

screamofcontinuousness said...

Thanks for the link to my comments. But I have to say I was impressed with the movie. It may not impressed others, but I loved it.