One of the major problems with all film series is what might be called middle filmitis. This is when films that are not first in a series rely too heavily upon an audience's memories of earlier films to inform them of the traits of characters, the chronology of prior events, and a general knowledge of the world the film series is set in.
Such is the case with the latest C.S. Lewis adapted book, The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Oh, yes, there are other major flaws in this film, which I shall limn, but middle filmitis is the overarching ill that infects all others. The same was not true with the first film in the series, The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. When I reviewed that film I started out by stating that that film was 1) a more literate and less Byzantine Lord Of The Rings, 2) a deeper and more realistic Harry Potter, and 3) a more mature Oz.
Well, all three claims are still true; however the series has taken a sharp downward turn toward LOTR's Byzantine darkness, Potter's shallowness, and the puerility of Oz. Prince Caspian is not a bad film, merely a passable special effects film, filled with all sorts of magical beings.
Yet, part of middle filmitis creeps in right at the film's outset, when a child is born and a young man flees for his life. We know nothing of the situation, yet the film's camera work and musical score intone great drama and import into a depiction the viewer is in no way invested in. Then we see the returning children from the first film (in ascending order of age): Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Susan (Anna Popplewell), and Peter Pevensie (William Moseley). Yet, and here is a critical point, it takes a while for the first names of our heroes to be mentioned, thus leaving first time viewers at a loss, and the family surname is never mentioned in the whole second film.
The first film also did a marvelous job of grounding the world of Narnia as an escape by children from the Battle Of Britain over London's skies. This film quickly dispenses with any such outer psychological trappings (and any interactions with elders in the real world of the Second World War), and assumes the audience knows all that went before. Yet, this robs the protagonists of a key motivation, and the audience of a major means of sympathizing with the kids.