Prince Caspian: the good, the bad, the ugly

    Ben Barnes performs solidly as Prince Caspian. Photo courtesy Walt Disney Pictures.

    One year has passed for Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, but several hundred years have passed for Narnia in Prince Caspian. Narnia has changed quite a bit from the 2005 hit The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Newcomer Ben Barnes plays Prince Caspian the Tenth, the rightful heir to the throne, but all rightful heirs must have a conniving aunt or uncle, and that’s where King Miraz, Caspian’s uncle (Sergio Castellitto), comes in. Miraz’s wife has just given birth to a son and potential heir. Miraz wants his son to be king and, therefore, must get rid of Caspian. After a narrow escape from the castle, Caspian blows a magical horn that calls the four Pevensies back to Narnia.

    The good

    Ben Barnes delivers an impressive performance, earning his place in the series. Although his faux accent is occasionally over the top and reminiscent of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride (“You killed my father. Prepare to die.”), overall Barnes makes for a convincing hero in the land of Narnia.

    Eddie Izzard as Reepicheep, the mouse knight of Narnia. Who knew a Chronicles of Narnia movie would get so many laughs? Izzard’s delivery is spot-on. The man has a real talent for voice work. Though Izzard gives a lot to the performance, credit most also go to director and screenwriter Andrew Adamson for giving another great example of a balance between action and humor, just as he did with the first two Shrek films.

    PG-13 action in a PG movie. I do not know if I have ever been as surprised by a rating as I was when I had to look at ticket for reference after the movie ended. I didn’t know a movie with throat slicing, a mouse stabbing a soldier in the eye, and one decapitation could garner a PG rating. I was pleasantly surprised. C.S. Lewis’ books frequently involved children in the heat of battle, and I’m glad Disney did not try to soften the source material for the film.

    Tilda Swinton has a cameo. I don’t want to say any more than that because of spoilers, but it’s very cool. She was my favorite part of the first film, and I was excited to see her on screen again, even if it is just for a brief scene.

    The bad

    The two-and-a-half hour run time. Granted each Harry Potter film is the same length, and so were the Lord of the Rings movies, but this movie actually felt like its 144-minute running time*. The perfect run-time is when a movie’s length never comes into question while watching the film. Prince Caspian could have used some trimming.

    Sergio Castellitto is no Tilda Swinton. While, I did mention Tilda’s cameo in the film, Miraz is the main villain of the film, and he cannot compare to Swinton’s White Witch. With fantasy, the villain is almost as, if not just as, important as the hero or heroes. Miraz doesn’t demand the attention and fear like the White Witch did in The Lion, the Witch, the Wardrobe.

    The ugly

    William Moseley. I did not like him in the first film, and he disappointed again. Moseley, who plays Peter Pevensie, is simply a bad actor. Especially when half his dialogue is in the form of what should be inspiring and rousing speeches to the troops, most of his lines just fall flat.

    A centaur with a Jheri curl hairstyle. If you don’t believe me, see the movie for yourself.

    The overall

    In short, if you liked the first Narnia movie, you’ll certainly enjoy the second. A long run-time holds the film back a little, but a strong leading performance from Ben Barnes and a great supporting cast, including Eddie Izzard and Peter Dinklage, make another trip to Narnia well worth it.

    Rating: B

    Correction — Monday, May 19, 2008: This article originally stated that the movie’s running time is 210 minutes. It is actually approximately 144 minutes. Thanks to commenter Amy.


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