Hollywood continues its love for swordplay and mythical creatures with The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
…Prince Caspian sees the four Pevensie children (Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell) return to the magical land of Narnia. Yet while 1 year has passed for the Pevensie children, it has been 1300 years for Narnia, which has succumbed to the rule of the Telmarine kingdom.
The children were summoned by the rightful heir to the Telmarine throne Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), who has been living in exile after his treacherous Uncle, General Miraz (Sergio Castellitio) attempted to kill him so his just born son can become king. Along with the Penvensie children, the Prince rallies the survivors of Narnia for an uprising against his tyrant uncle.
With Italian actor Castellitio and other Mediterranean / Arabic actors cast in villainous roles, the evil Telmarine’s come across as a mix of the Taliban and the Spanish Catholic Church circa late 1400’s. In turn, Ben Barnes becomes the most Anglo Latino seen on film in recent memory with an accent that could make Ricky Ricardo blush! It is all rather stereotypical, really.
That being said, there is a lot to like about …Prince Caspian. First off is the choice New Zealand location (a stomping ground for many fantasy films), which has been used for exterior shots, and captured magnificently by director of photography Karl Walter Lindenlaub.
European haunts Prague, Slovenia, and Poland were chosen for interior scenes. Accompanying the striking imagery is a boastful score by Harry Gregson-Williams.
The film also features impressive visual effects, as various mythological and natural creatures are convincingly brought to life by the joint efforts of the Moving Picture Company, Framestone CFC, and Weta Digital. The sound effects are also very good, and would come as no surprise if Oscar nominations come this films way for both of these categories.
Following the general rule of thumb, …Prince Caspian is much darker and mature compared to its previous efforts. There are several terrifically tense scenes bound to scare the kiddies, as well as plenty of PG violence in well choreographed and shot action sequences.
Unfortunately, many of the books religious themes have been stripped away considerably, not doubt in a move not to “offend” those in our ultra-sensitive, secular times. In turn, character development is virtually non-existent, as Lewis’ themes of good and evil, temptation and faith, are merely a footnote in this film.
This has created quite a double-edged sword. Some religious punters may find it to be a bastardization of their and Lewis’ theological core values, while secularists will find the whole Narnia concept to be nothing more than a shrewd recruiting campaign for Christianity.
But what should be remembered is that this is only a movie, and as far as fantasy films go it is a valid addition to a popular genre.