THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN (D: Andrew Adamson, 144 min) Rating: NN
Sorry, dear ones. the magic is gone.
Three years after his lovely adaptation of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, director Andrew Adamson returns to C.S. Lewis's lush fantasy world with The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian. But things aren't what they used to be, either for the characters or the audience.
Prince Caspian brings the four Pevensie children back to Narnia 1,300 years after their first visit – the passage of time being rather a differennt matter between worlds – to thwart the efforts of scheeming usurper King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) to exterminate every last dwarf, centaur and talking bear in the kingdom.
See, in the interim, Narnia has been taken over by the swarthy Telmarines, who have sent the Narnians into hiding and drained much of the magic from the realm. Aslan, the Narnians' lion and saviour, has been missing for as long as the Pevensies, and the only person who might be able to save the day is the Telmarines' rightful ruler, the exiled Caspian (Ben Barnes), who's fled his kingdom and inadvertently summoned the Pevensies to his aid.
All of this is right out of the novel, but it's flat and dreary on the screen, with a talky script that pads the already elongated running time with endless scenes in which secondary characters discuss the political ramifications of their actions while the engaging Pevensies – played once again by William Moseley, Ann Poppllewell, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley – are off walkking through the forest.
The script also inexplicably hits the reset button on the characters we know. Having established that the Pevensies' previous decades in Narnia have left them mature beyond their apparent ages, the script requires us to believe that Lucy is still a wide-eyed child intent on hugging anything furry and/or short, and that Peter is a hotheaded fool who'll lead dozens of soldiers to their entirely unnecessary doom.
And when stuff finally starts to happen, the movie doesn't improve; instead, once the Pevensies and Caspian have forged an alliance and rallied the Narnians to fight the Telmarines, we're treated to an hour or so of sub-Peter Jackson Lord Of The Rings battle sequences, with catapults and castle-scaling and archers flying around on griffins.
It's here that Walden Media's clumsy streak of Christian sanctimony shows through, allowing the Pevensies and their friends to kill hundreds of enemy soldiers without showing any actual carnage. It's a crusade without consequence.
This movie has almost no resonance with the world of Lewis's stories, or the world of the earlier film. I'm hard-pressed to believe the same man directed both pictures. This one feels like the work of a hack rushing to make his release date, handing off scene after scene to the second-unit guys in order to stay on schedule.