Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Capsule Review: Prince Caspian

Movie: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Director/Studio: Andrew Adamson / Walden Media
10 Word Review: Improved, imperfect return sees Jesus Lion get way less preachy.

Best Thing About It: The pacing and the story in general are vastly improved from the first movie, which suffered greatly from a rushed storyline that sapped all urgency from the proceedings. This time around, there was more of a focus on the task at hand, even if they kind of just dropped the Pevensie kids into medieval Spain and called it "Narnia." And outright stole about a billion things from The Lord of the Rings, though that might be attributable to Tolkien/C.S. Lewis shenanigans. Either way, it added up to a better movie. Oh, and like I said above: the Jesus Lion stuff is way less overt, to the point where I didn't notice it. I'm sure if I really read into it, I'd have found something, but so long as it's not slapping me in the face, I'm cool.

Worst Thing About It: There are some nitpicky things -- the bloodlessness, for one thing, which is 100% a marketing concern so the film could come in at PG -- but the biggest problem comes from the moments of levity in the film. By and large, the Pevensie kids and Prince Caspian are a dour bunch. The kids aren't good enough actors to lighten the characters up in an organic way, so the task then falls to the secondary characters to provide the good humor. Of course, in this kind of movie, that translates to a CGI mouse who seems cribbed directly from Shrek's Puss In Boots. I was probably less annoyed by the mouse as I could have been because I was preoccupied in placing his voice. It took me almost the whole film to finally pin it down (Eddie Izzard!), but as a general rule, silly cartoon mice don't belong in any kind of good movie. (Yes, yes, Cinderella excluded.)

Best Performance: Uh...hmm...that's a good question. Anna Popplewell probably does the best of the main characters (though perhaps I'm shafting William Mosely because his Peter is such a perfectly articulated priss). I'm certainly not going to fall into the trap of claiming Ben Barnes was this great revelation, no matter how charismatic his hair was (and let me assure you: it was). I guess Peter Dinklage was pretty cool, though he doesn't compare to James McAvoy playing essentially the same character in the first one.

Oscar Prospects: If it had made more money, it might have stood an outside shot at a tech nomination, but it's kind of flopping (unfortunately due to the crappier original), so I doubt it.

Grade: B-


harlemjd said...

Yeah, the second book was not a retelling of any Bible story. That won't start up again until The Magician's Nephew. I was really confused as a kid reading the middle books until I figured that one out.

Also, I haven't seen the movie yet, so they may have done something horrible to the character, but bite me. Reepicheep is the best part of the whole series. (When I first saw Shrek, Puss reminded me of that, so I see the similarity as a sign they probably go the character right.)

patrick said...

the makers of Prince Caspian kept to the original story surprisingly well... i heard they were going to make it into a silly pure-action flick, but thankfully this was not the case

Scarlett said...

Yeah, the thing about Reepicheep is that he really IS kind of like Puss in Boots. Only, you know...Puss in Boots of 1946, or whatever it is. That being said, though, his ridiculous bravado is actually kind of awesome, and his role in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is both much less cartoonish and totally touching