NarniaWebbers Review Prince Caspian

Posted May 16, 2008 3:57 am by starkat

Now that the film has been released in the US we can start posting our reviews. If you are curious what other NarniaWebbers thought of the film, we have three extended reviews of the film from Tirian, Fantasia_kitty, and glumPuddle.

Tirian’s Review

The first time I saw Prince Caspian, I loved the movie. That’s not too surprising, though, because I’ve been following this film for two and a half years and was hoping and expecting it to be very good. I wasn’t disappointed.

Werewolf

I’ll freely admit that it’s hard for me to look at this film objectively because I’m so wrapped up in the emotions of finally seeing the story play out on the screen. Emotionally, it was a dream come true. It’s the essence of the Prince Caspian story with all the adventure and the excitement of the book wrapped up in a beautiful, effects-heavy action flick that really hit home for me.

The writers have done a very good job adapting to the screen what is perhaps the most challenging of the Chronicles. I feel that the basic plot changes are not unreasonable points of change. The night raid didn’t bother me at all. I thought that the scene with the White Witch was one of the best-executed in the whole film.

And then there was that kiss. The infamous kiss that everyone has been dreading. I was so pleased that almost all of the flirting had been removed that I can forgive the kiss. What I didn’t realize before seeing the movie is that Caspian and Susan don’t kiss—Susan kisses Caspian. There’s a huge distinction there. And after the kiss, she flings her arms around his neck and gives him a huge hug, a last goodbye to a life she’ll never have.

The film has subtle nods to the book-lovers in the audience and made me want to give my own huge hug the filmmakers. Many of the lines aren’t word for word, but Edmund’s torch is in the film and the bulgy bear does suck his paws. And there were many scenes with wonderful adaptations straight from the book. The werewolf’s speech sent chills down my spine. Having the White Witch come so perilously close to revival was a wonderful idea that was well-executed. The scene where Aslan restores Reepicheep’s tail is taken right from the book and even has a few lovely additions (like the bagpipes). Aslan’s quiet conversation with Peter and Susan was perfect –just as I’ve always pictured it. The door in the air was perfect because you actually had to have faith to walk out over a cliff.

One of the first things I noticed about the movie was how much better the visual effects were than those in the first film. The only thing that I didn’t think quite looked realistic was the scene where Lucy puts her hands on Aslan’s muzzle during their initial meeting (during the dream). It just didn’t look like she was really making physical contact. Some of the Aslan shots during LWW had the same problem. This is a small quibble, though, because overall I felt like the effects in Caspian are a huge step up and just fantastic—not distracting at all.

I usually don’t notice music very much during a film, but several times during PC I realized how well the music fit the scene. There were two bits that jumped out at me as being especially good. I loved the scene where the four children run into Narnia for the first time and we hear “One Day” from the first film. What a nice touch! I also really enjoyed the music for the Caspian chase scene at the beginning of the film. The music set the tone perfectly and kept the whole introductory scene flowing.

If you are thinking of seeing this film with your family, I should warn you that there are some very intense scenes. This was perhaps the most intense PG-rated movie I have ever seen. There’s very little blood but I would put the action and intensity on the level of ‘Lord of the Rings’. Depending on your children’s movie-going experience it may be best to leave younger children at home.

At the end of the film as Lucy prepares to return home, she turns and casts one last lingering look at Aslan. It’s a poignant, beautiful shot and you can tell that Lucy is leaving her heart in Narnia. And it made me all the more excited for the next film. Before we get there, though, I’ll be back to enjoy Prince Caspian many more times.

Fantasia_kitty’s Review:

Perhaps it was because I went into this movie with low expectations, or perhaps it’s because I don’t like the book Prince Caspian as much as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, but as first impressions go, I liked Prince Caspian much more than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I think that everyone involved in this production really stepped it up from the last movie because every aspect (writing, acting, music, VFX) was improved. Most movie reviews cover the storyline, but I’m going to assume that people visiting NarniaWeb know what the storyline is, and so I’m going to cover other aspects of the film.

Lucy on the beach

I thought that Lucy’s character was just outstanding. Her behavior and character traits were, in my opinion, the same as the traits Lucy demonstrates in the book. Her relationships with each of her siblings and Aslan were impressively done. Georgie’s acting is very solid and I cannot wait to see her in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Edmund was just fun in this movie. Almost every scene he was in, I found myself grinning — the duel with Trumpkin, his sticking up for Lucy, delivering the challenge to Miraz. He went from being a little twerp in the first movie to being real, true hero in this one. In my mind, he is more of a hero than either Peter or Caspian (which is either good or bad depending on how you look at it).

One thing I had not yet seen in Narnia productions was a character interpretation superior to my own vision from the original text. Susan was a perfect combination of her character from this book and the character she was going to become in The Last Battle, because of her lack of faith and her desire to move on in our own world. And as far as the kiss goes, it didn’t bother me; it was simply a precursor of who she was going to become in the The Last Battle. However, on the issue of Susan fighting, even though the change was explained to me, I still did not like it — not because she was fighting to aid her fellow Narnians, but rather due to the fact that she clearly didn’t mind it.

Considering that the character of Caspian was cast older than in the book and I saw the clips of his changed relationships with Peter and Susan, I was shocked to see how close he still was to the book character. He was very humble, naïve, submissive to Peter, and had a great desire to save Old Narnia. Ben played Caspian very well, but I didn’t like him quite as much as the other Pevensies. That could just be because he was new and I wasn’t sure what to expect or perhaps because he had to share screen time with the Pevensies. However, as he plays the character much closer to his real age and personality in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I’m really looking forward to where he goes with it.

Trumpkin gets the honor of being my favorite new character in this movie. He’s a bit different from the book in that he went from being a jolly cynic to a grumpy cynic, but it works. I loved his cynicism and deadpan humor. Reepicheep was also funny, though he was a little too comical for my taste and not quite honorable enough.

I was really looking forward to seeing Miraz in this movie, and I was not disappointed. Miraz is one cruel, creepy villain (which is a good thing). I had a hard time believing that Sergio Castellitto had never played a bad guy before because he did a fantastic job in this role.

As far as the script goes, I think most NarniaWebbers felt it was the weak link in the last movie. This time around, the script has greatly improved. While there were still a few cheesy lines here and there, they were balanced out by even more fantastic lines, as well as a fair number of lines straight out of the book, which I was very pleased to see.

Also, I felt the VFX were either just as good or better. Even though I was quite impressed by The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, there were a few scenes that were unfinished. There were a lot less of those unfinished looking scenes in Prince Caspian — in fact, I only remember one shot that bugged me.

Unlike The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian is not a direct translation of the original story. To convert the novel into a screenplay, the story was cut apart, reorganized, and put back together — very successfully in my opinion. And even though it’s not as accurate overall, the individual scenes from the book made a much better transition onto the screen. The movie Prince Caspian also has a very different feel to it than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. When the producers say that this is a darker, grittier movie, they’re telling the truth, and that’s what to expect from this movie. Regardless of these differences, I liked this movie very much and highly recommend it.

As a word of caution, parents with smaller children, or easily frightened children may want to preview this movie first. It did receive a PG rating, but it’s a dark PG.

Miraz being crowned

glumPuddle’s Review:

Seeing this film was the climax of an incredible chapter in my life. Ever since I visited the set last June, life has been an emotional roller coaster! And now, after reading the book countless times, waiting 2.5 years, posting 78 videos on YouTube, over-analyzing, discussing all the controversial issues to death, and all the blood, sweat and tears of anticipating this film….here is my review:

In my 45th YouTube video, I identified three basic things that the film HAD to get right, whatever else they changed. Let’s start with those:

1. RETURN: I think they really captured the strangness of the Pevensies returning to Narnia as legends. I loved the carvings on the wall at Aslan’s How! So errie but fascinating. The Cair Paravel stuff was quite rushed, but they slowed down enough to make the Treasure Chamber, especially when Peter opens his chest, a moving scene.
2. MYTH BECOMING FACT: I really liked most of the added Miraz/Telmarine stuff, because we got to see their awe and shock at finding out that Old Narnia is real. Those scenes were quite in the spirit of the book. And I loved Caspian asking Nikabrik “What about centaurs? Are they real?” But unfortunately, as I feared, I think much of Caspian’s awe and respect of the Pevensies was lost because of that rivalry he had with Peter. I also hated the kiss because it it took away from Caspian’s awe of Susan, and instead made her just a cute girl to him. Caspian should view Susan as a figure out of myth and legend, not a girlfriend.
3. FAITH: If anything, this theme might actually be a bigger part of the movie than the book. Although I didn’t like the rivalry between Peter and Caspian, I do acknowledge that some good came out of it. It was all a part of showing Peter lose faith, but having to come back to Aslan at the end.

These three themes from the book were also quite strong in the film. For this reason, and the fact that structure of the book is so uncinematic, I walked out the the theater with a big smile on my face. Even in the midst of so many changes, they captured what a I love about the book moreso than the first film.

Filmmaking:

SCRIPT: Not perfect, but so much better than LWW, and I think they had many more lines from the book this time. They did a fantastic job at fleshing out Miraz and making him an interesting villain, but I still recognize him from the book. The only section I didn’t like was the third act. The Single Combat seemed to drag on; it felt like it ended three times. And cutting back and forth between Susan/Lucy and the battle was very awkward. I really liked the first two acts, but not the third act so much.
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Gorgeous! I think I liked it best during the dream meeting with Aslan. It captured Lucy’s surprise and joy of the trees awakening.
SETS: Even though many sets, like Cair Paravel, didn’t look at all how I imagined, it all felt very much in the spirit of the book. I always felt like Narnia had come to life.
VISUAL EFFECTS: Technically, this was one of the strangest parts of the film. Most shots, like Reep and the Night Raid, look fantastic. Others, like Aslan, look like a step down from LWW.
SCORE: The music was very important this time around. It was a crucial part of reminding the audience of events from the first film, and I also think that, in the middle of a fairly complex story, the music served as a reminder that this is still essentially a fairy tale.
COSTUMES: This was one of my favorite parts of the film. I loved the Telmarine armor especially. The only costumes I didn’t like were at the coronation, although it was appropriate to have more color at the end, to show the “old days” returning.
ACTING: I can’t think of anybody I didn’t like. The biggest surprise was Pierfrancesco Favino as Glozelle. He created a really sympathetic character, and I liked how he was the first to step forward at the end. Eddie Izzard was also perfect for fan-favorite Reep, and I can’t wait to hear him again in VDT!

Now, for the issues:

STRUCTURE: This was always the nagging problem with turning “Prince Caspian” into a film. The flashbacks work quite well in the book, but probably wouldn’t play the same way in a film. After thinking about this issue for 2.5 years, I have determined that there is no perfect solution. The filmmakers’ solution was probably about as good as any other idea I’ve heard. The necessary re-structuring included some fantastic additions and heartbreaking subtractions. It was very sad that the scene with Caspian and Cornelius on the tower was cut. The Return of the Lion was well done, but not as powerful as in the book because it takes place during the battle. On the bright side, I really loved nearly all of the added scenes with Miraz and Glozelle.
THE KISS: This tiny little chemistry between Susan and Caspian would probably have been easy to shrug off…if it wasn’t for that darn kiss! The kiss went on longer than I thought, and he hugged her back. And seeing his sadness over her not coming back, grrr, that was very disturbing. I’m just thankful that the romance was not a big thing throughout the whole movie. We can just fast-forward through the kiss and that makes it bearable. Once again, the reason it’s bad is that it takes away from Caspian’s awe of Susan. To Caspian, Susan is a figure out of his bedtime stories, not a girlfriend.
RIVALRY: As I feared, it did take away a little from Caspian’s awe and respect of the Pevensies. But, on the bright side, it ended up being a part of the theme of faith. Peter loses faith and then has to come back to Aslan. I didn’t like the rivalry, but acknowledge that some good came out of it. I’m also relieved that Peter was still a likable character even when he had an ego.
WHITE WITCH: As far as adaptation, I didn’t have any huge problems with this scene, and I actually kinda liked it. But it didn’t work as well in a stand-alone film. In the book, Nikabrik slowly builds his argument on why Aslan and the Pevensies can’t help them and they should try the White Witch. But in the movie, the scene seems to come out of nowhere and even feels a little random.
SUSAN FIGHTING: It really wasn’t so bad except for when she knocks like six Telmarines off their horses with arrows. That felt way to “action hero” for Susan. Very out of character.
RIDING CENTAURS: It only happened once, and for a good reason.
REEPICHEEP: He was awesome! Eddie Izzard was perfect, and the animation was good enough. Can’t wait for VDT!

Hmmm…after typing that, I realize that a lot of the controversial issues turned out to be pretty much what I feared (though usually not quite not as bad)…. and yet, I still give this film a thumbs up! I guess that’s one of the best compliments you can give an adaptation: Despite all the changes, I walked out happy because the important themes in the book were important themes in the film.

I believe that the most satisfying adaptations are the ones where the take the story, characters, and themes of a book and transform it into something that works as a movie. But this only works if it’s done by a director who instinctively understands the material and knows what he/she has to accomplish. I am proud to say that this time, Andrew Adamson is one of those directors, and has made “Prince Caspian” a film that has a different overall storyline than the book, but captures what the book is all about at the same time.

I would not call this a “great” film because it doesn’t stand as well on its own. But as for adapting a very uncinematic book, I call this a “quite good” film. After 2.5 years of anticipation, I don’t feel let down. I walked out happy, and I believe that C.S. Lewis probably would have too.

Now that you’ve read the reviews, you can post your own review. We look forward to reading it!