‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’ movie review: LOTR-lite fantasy sequel

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Two-and-a-half years after The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a lackluster C.S. Lewis adaptation that left me wanting, director Andrew Adamson delivers Prince Caspian, an immensely superior sequel that feels, tonally, like an altogether different film. 

Descriptions of Lord of the Rings-lite are wholly appropriate here, and the film features many of the strengths and weaknesses of Peter Jackson’s trilogy. While not exactly faithful to the source material, this adaptation holds more respect for the world created by Lewis than the previous film; non-fans are likely to be bored by some lengthy exposition, but Caspian has enough rousing action scenes to more than make up for it.

It’s been a year since the Pevensie siblings – Peter (William Moseley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Susan (Anna Popplewell), and Lucy (Georgie Henley) – visited Narnia through the magical wardrobe and left as royalty. 

Yet hundreds of years have passed in Narnia, and the mythical land has now been taken over by the Telmarines and malevolent King Mraz (Sergio Castellitto), who has taken over the throne and threatened the life of rightful heir Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes). 

As Caspian flees the kingdom and calls for help, his cries are heard by both the mythical creatures of Narnia and the four siblings. They return to the kingdom to stage a revolt, leading Caspian and the Narnians against the Telmarines and Mraz.

This is, essentially, the same plot as the previous film. But it’s executed more effectively, and heads into much darker territory. The length – two-and-a-half hours – is occasionally a drawback, but Caspian feels like more of a traditional epic than Lion

There are more scenes of dialogue than I might like here, and again, an over-reliance on some sketchy CGI. But the action scenes, including a tremendous final battle right out of Jackson’s Rings, highlighted by a one-on-one fight between Peter and Mraz, are truly exciting.

Barnes is a little too bland in the title role; he’s not bad, but consistently upstaged by the four siblings, who aren’t exactly scene-stealers themselves.

Supporting cast is a lot of fun, though, including Peter Dinklage as Trumpkin and Eddie Izzard as the voice of Reepicheep, a talkative little fencing mouse. Castellitto makes for an effectively menacing villain; Liam Neeson and Tilda Swinton make brief but welcome returns as the Christ-like lion Aslan and the White Witch.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

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Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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