I wasn’t a fan of the first Narnia movie, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. I thought it was underwhelming to say the least. It seemed like the filmmakers were trying to capitalize on the fame of The Lord of the Rings. They even got the same costume people at Weta Workshop to work on the creature design. But, sadly it seemed like the first Narnia paid for the Weta Workshop discount package.
The second chapter in the Narnia stories is Prince Caspian. Thankfully the visual effects and creatures in this film look better than those in the previous movie. The story is about on par with the first film. Too much information is crammed into too little movie. Building sprawling epic films in completely imaginary worlds takes time — but the Narnia films rush through the storylines as fast as possible.
Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are back. The world of Narnia has long forgotten them and their reign. Hoards of evil men have overtaken the land, and killed most native Narnians. What’s left of the folks of Narnia are hiding for fear of the evil leader King Miraz. He’s extremely efficient at being the bad guy, but he brings this lovable children’s movie into quite a dark place.
Director Andrew Adamson overuses the CGI characters just a bit, especially when it comes to the centaurs. Most of the CGI looks rather good, but the centaurs look bulky and clunky. All the same child actors from the first film reprise their roles here. Even though it’s been three years since the last Narnia film, most of the children seem like they haven’t aged a day. But, their acting has gotten better, which is a nice change. The first one they were so dreadfully whiny it was hard to enjoy the movie. Here they are more reserved, but Peter (William Moseley) wears a scowl on his face for most of the movie and delivers his lines with little emotion.
Prince Caspian is quite a bit darker than its predecessor. Because it is all fantasy violence it still manages to get a PG rating. But it should be treated as PG-13 when you are considering showing it to your younger children. There are very intense scenes of violence, and most of the Narnian characters seem to be more blood-thirsty than friendly.
The HD quality is flawless. The colors are extremely vibrant, and the blacks are deep and perfect. The HD really shines through during the forest scenes. Every leaf is visible. The greens are rich and seem to pop off the screen.
The audio quality was lacking. For some reason I could not get the audio to sync up with the lips. I use a PS3 to play my Blu-rays and I have never had an audio sync problem until now. I tried stopping and starting the film again, but still with the same annoying result. I put in other Blu-ray discs to make sure it wasn’t my player, and they worked fine.
Besides the set back of the lip sync not working, the sound was still sub par. The dialogue was frequently quieted by the blaring music and clanging war scene sound effects.
The Special Features
This is a three-disc set, but the third disc contains a digital copy of the film.
One of the more inventive special features on disc one is called "Circle Vision Interactive." This feature allows you to view the castle raid sequence from multiple angles, all filmed in HD. It’s hard to describe what this is actually like, but it’s pretty cool. Being able to view 360 degrees of the scene makes you feel like it’s more than just a film.
Disc one also contains previews for Earth and various other Disney Blu-ray releases.
Disc two has the bulk of the special features. Most of the special features deal with one part of the production or another. "The Adventure Returns" involves interviews from the cast and crew about coming back together to make another Narnia film. "A Classic Comes to Life" discusses the set design and the location scouting. "A Big Movie Comes to a Small Town" is probably the most informative production featurette. It talks about how the locals of the Slovenian town of Bovec prepared for the filming. A town of just 1,200 people had to take care of and accommodate a filming crew of 800. It was an enormous feat to say the least.
This is a better film stylistically than the first. The creatures and special effects are more thought out, and seem less rushed than in the first film. But it is substantially darker than the first, and is not as child-friendly as Disney would have you believe. There are numerous scenes of violence, and it’s beyond me how it escaped a PG-13 rating. Parents should be aware of that fact before showing the film to younger viewers.