Prince Caspian Made in: UK/USA Language: English Director: Andrew Adamson Starring: Ben Barnes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Sergio Castellito, Peter Dinklage, Warwick Davis, Liam Neeson, Eddie Izzard, Ken Stott Year: 2008
Synopsis: Adapted from the second book in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian picks up where The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe leaves off. It's been a year since the four Pevensie children, Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), and Lucy (Georgie Henley) returned from the magical world of Narnia where mythical creatures exist and the animals can speak, even if you haven't been smoking up.
But one year translates to about 1300 in Narnia.
And since the Pevensie children returned to London, Narnia was attacked and conquered by the Telmarines, who left the entire land looking like the aftermath of a Metallica concert. Under the evil King Miraz (Sergio Castellito), the Telmarines tried to exterminate the Narnians (many of whom resemble Metallica fans), driving them into the woods where they live in hiding.
When Miraz's queen (Alicia Borrachero) gives birth to a male heir, he tries unsuccessfully to murder his nephew Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), the rightful heir to the Telmarine throne. Caspian grew up learning about Narnia's noble and peaceful culture, and because of his perceived sympathies to their ways, is forced to flee.
He escapes to the woods and regroups with a rag-tag group of Narnians. And when he summons help, he unwittingly draws the four Pevensie children, who once ruled as wise kings and queens, back to his magical world.
With the vast Telmarine army closing in, The Pevensie children and Prince Caspian must figure out a way to defeat King Miraz and restore peace and order to Narnia. Once again they must rely on the wisdom of the great Lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson).
But Aslan has not been seen for ages, yet Lucy, the youngest of the Pevensie children, still believes in him and even claims to have seen him since they've returned. Will her childlike faith be the key to their salvation, or are the Narnians better off taking matters into their own hands/paws/hooves?
The Good: Quite faithful to C.S. Lewis' novel, Prince Caspian is a well structured, highly imaginative adventure film that will appeal to both children and adults. The movie does not talk down to kids and the special effects are very well done.
Much of the Christian symbolism and theological philosophies of Lewis' work remain intact, and are effectively woven into the narrative.
Much of the film's look and action will make viewers think of Lord of the Rings, which may be appropriate seeing how J.R.R. Tolkien was Lewis' good friend and mentor.
The characters are a lot of fun, and the talking animals will certainly appeal to kids. Particularly endearing are Reepicheep the valiant mouse (voiced by Eddie Izzard), and Trufflehunter the badger (voiced by Ken Stott). As cute as they are, the animals here have a sense of dignity about them and serve a specific purpose in the story. They aren't there to just be silly, which is a relief.
The film also has very strong, positive messages about the importance of faith, loyalty, and courage, which turn out to be relevant and meaningful to viewers of all ages.
The bad: Although marketed as a family movie, there is a surprising amount of violence in this film that might prove too intense for small children. For instance, you may raise an eyebrow at the sight of a cute, sword-wielding mouse slashing someone's throat.
Granted it's nothing disturbing (your kids might even think it's funny), but it's a similar amount of shock you'd feel if Bugs Bunny shot Yosemite Sam with his own gun, then have the joke just end there with Yosemite Sam lying on the ground without getting up.
Who would like this movie: With enough action and adventure to please a broad range of fantasy movie fans, Prince Caspian will be particularly meaningful to Christian believers. Many of the messages are positive for kids, but other theological references are rather deep and subtle to the point where it may even take some time for grown-ups to absorb.
And finally, the film urges us to retain the imagination we had as children, as Lewis asserts that doing so enables us to see the possibilities, hope, and answers in a dark and seemingly hopeless world.