A follow-up to the 2005 special effects masterpiece The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardbrobe, Prince Caspian is the second film in the Chronicles of Narnia. While not as well put together as the first, with some unintentional humor, unnecessarily lengthy exposition, and odd directional choices, there are enough thrills and eye candy to recommend this second go-around for the series.
Returning to Narnia after a year-long absence, the four kids who inadvertently discovered the land are swept back into it to play their role in an upcoming war. Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, and Georgie Henley all reprise their roles with care. The energy in the fights is incredible given their relatively young ages.
Scenes of the children rediscovering the land fail to have the intrigue of the original film. As they explore the ruins from 1300 years of damage in Narnia time, these scenes offer little in the way of necessary information. There’s easily 20 minutes of content that could have been cut from the film as a whole, dropping it to around a more reasonable two hours.
The slow build-up to the action-packed and amazingly violent (for a PG-rated film) action scenes is mostly handled well however. The story, however simplistic, offers enough intrigue and the wild cast of characters does well to engage the audience. Given the time elapsed since the previous Narnia adventure, the majority of the characters are new, giving this sequel a fresh feel.
Visual effects, although spotty at times, are remarkable. Full CG characters are brought to life via believable animation. Suit work is also aided by CG, though done in a way that the seams are impossible to detect. The massive battle scenes feel familiar after Lord of the Rings, while the direction from Andrew Adamson keeps them entertaining and exciting.
An excessive amount of humor can occasionally take away from the intensity of the effort to keep Narnia alive, and not all of it is intentional. Whoever thought the bear shouting “For Aslan!” in a muffled, barely intelligible voice should have been a part of the film needs to rethink their career. It’s impossible not to burst out laughing in the midst of what is supposed to be a serious toned moment.
Those concerned that Narnia may end up too preachy have rightful concerns, though unless you’re aware of the Christianity involved, it’s easy to take this at surface level. You only need to look deeper if you want to.
This remains an excellent adventure for the 10-and-over crowd regardless of beliefs. The world of Narnia is finely crafted on screen, and makes for perfect summer escapist entertainment. While a step down, this series should have legs to carry it through all of the books should it make it that far.