C.S. Lewis meets Teen Beat in The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, a follow-up to 2005’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe that revolves around a royal hunk with flowing locks, a romance-novel Spanish accent, and all the depth of a teenybopper magazine feature. Ben Barnes’s titular prince is a Ken Doll cipher, a stud with forced mannerisms and vacant eyes, making him an apt crux for Andrew Adamson’s sequel, a clumsy adventure—in which the four Pevensie kids return to Narnia to help vanquish an evil tyrant—that feels at once excessively long and yet sloppily hurried. This duality can be chalked up to a desire to stage extravagant set pieces without making equal time for eloquent character construction, so that every one of Caspian’s principal players is devoid of a basic coherent arc, their driving motivations left so opaque that they feel borderline random. Chaotic even when not focusing on open-field skirmishes, it’s a jumble of sub-Lord of the Rings sweeping cinematography, herky-jerky editing and bickering, pouting protagonists with underdeveloped emotions and impulses. Though the Pevensies’ return to Narnia takes place one Earth year after their prior visit, the fantastical world has actually aged 1,300 years, and is now ruled by evil lord Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), who seeks to kill his nephew Caspian and become king, and whose ancestors attempted to carry out a genocide of magical creatures. The few surviving dwarfs, minotaurs and talking animals now live deep in a forest, and soon enlist with Caspian and the four siblings to vanquish Miraz, leading to rote clashes interspersed with apathetic scenes in which Peter Pevensie (William Moseley) tries to show Caspian who’s top dog and his sister Susan (Anna Popplewell)—in a subplot the humorless Lewis would no doubt have disapproved of—swoons over the rightful heir to the throne. Providing this second chapter in the Christianity-laced saga with its central issue of faith, Peter refuses to believe young Lucy’s (Georgie Henley) claims that she’s seen the deceased, Jesus-like Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson). Yet as with Peter’s struggle to accept the responsibility of leadership, this potentially ripe topic is skimmed over, Adamson putting far less energy into moral dilemmas than into an unfunny talking mouse lamely reminiscent of the Shrek director’s Puss in Boots.
- Andrew Adamson
- Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
- Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Peter Dinklage, Sergio Castellitto, Pierfrancesco Favino, Warwick Davis, Vincent Grass, Liam Neeson, Tilda Swinton
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