Quint ventures into NARNIA with Prince Caspian and the gang!
Published at: May 16, 2008, 3:36 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here.
I’ve been a little conflicted with PRINCE CASPIAN. I visited the edit bay and saw many scenes and sequences that lead me to believe the film had a deeper, darker tone than the original. So, I was looking forward to it taking a step up from THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. However, it was still a sequel to a movie that I didn’t care for.
I finally saw the movie a few hours ago and I can definitely state that it is a darker film than its predecessor. In fact, I can state that it’s a much better film than the first, but it still undoubtedly carries on many of the things I didn’t like about the first film.
That’s not a bad thing. If it was a series I really dug, I’d be upset if the sequel was completely devoid of benchmarks I recognized.
The first half of PRINCE CASPIAN is clunky. There are aspects I quite like, like the chase of Caspian that opens the film and the introduction of some of the Narnian creatures, but almost everything revolving around the Pevensie children just seemed awkward to me.
Their arrival back to Narnia was clumsy. It looks cool, having their subway tube rip itself apart, but it didn’t make much sense, even within the magical confines of that universe.
All the kids are back. They haven’t grown much as actors at all from the first film, but I won’t hold that against them. They are playing the same characters afterall. There’s just not much given to them, with the exception of Lucy, the youngest. She has a lot of emotional strength and Peter, the eldest, has a good dramatic arc, but it takes a while to get to it.
It isn’t until the big castle siege in the middle of the film that I felt it started grabbing me. The siege isn’t pretty and isn’t played cutesy. There are real consequences and we are pretty graphically shown how things can go wrong.
From here on out, the movie really does move and gives us something new, helped incredibly by the strong casting of the supporting characters.
Peter Dinklage in particular undercuts the rather simple and fluffy universe with his grumpy dwarf, Trumpkin. Dinklage is the real deal. I’ve written love letters to him in previous reviews and news bits, but this guy brought a real character to this fantasy creature. He’s pissed off, but he also has a heart. I think he really balances out some of the lighter fare.
Add in Reepicheep, the fan-favorite ass kicking, soldier-killing mouse, voiced by Eddie Izzard, and a retarded bear that shows up to voice out a “For Aslan!” and you have a happy me.
I’m not kidding, by the way. The bear did sound like it had Downs Syndrome. I don’t know why it made me laugh so hard, but he just shows up in a really dramatic moment when the characters decide to fight an unwinnable battle and utters the line and I was in hysterics.
I want a toy of that creature. Seriously.
Anyway, unintentional humor aside, I do commend the filmmakers for making the second half of the movie pretty fun. There’s one particular scene, a sort of temptation scene for Caspian, that is kind of fucking terrifying. It involves a wolf creature that is an incredible animatronic by KNB and a bizarre beaked monstrocity that tries to summon the White Witch. It’s pretty damn creepy for a PG movie.
So, points for giving nightmares to its target audience. Points for a great performance from The Dink. Points for the retarded bear. Points for blatant the anti-Atheism sentiment (not that I agree with it, but at least they didn’t try to hide it). Points for the (SPOILER) magical vagina tree at the end of the movie. Points for KNB’s considerably better practical effects work. Points for more beautiful New Zealand scenery. Points for pissed off Water Jesus.
No points for Ben Barnes’ accent. He grew on me a bit while watching it and I think he’s a very charismatic young man, but every time he spoke I couldn’t help but hear an SNL spoof of Antonio Banderas. No points for the clumsy and dull “rediscovery” of Narnia.
I actually thought there’d be more points taken away, but those were the only real striking things I could come up with. It’s hard to knock the acting from the Pevensies… it’s not bad and they are very much recognizable as their characters now, even for a non-fan of the first film like me. But on the whole they were uninspiring.
Which is what I felt through most of the first half of the movie. The character work is very simple, the themes muddled.
But like I said at the beginning it’s definitely a step up from the first film and I count myself surprised that I liked as much as I did.
If you dug the first flick, then you’ll like this one. If you didn’t, you might find more to like here, but it’s not all that removed from the first. If you’re indifferent, go see IRON MAN one more time (or give SPEED RACER a shot… I swear, it’s a fun movie) until INDIANA JONES.