“The Chronicles of Narnia” is back, but the potential of source material continues to be untapped in the second installment.
Set a year after the four Pevensies return from the fantasy land of Narnia after the first installment, “Prince Caspian” starts with the children standing on a subway platform when they are suddenly transported back, only to find that 1,300 years have passed in Narnia while they were gone.
The land lies in the grips of the evil King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), who rules with the help of his Telmarine warriors. King Miraz plots on killing his nephew, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), to keep the throne for himself. After runny away, Prince Caspian joins up with the Pevensies in restoring the harmony of Narnia.
The movie starts off with a bang of visual effects and battle sequences. The plot, arguably the weakest in the series of novels, is complemented by multiple action scenes from the beginning to the end. However, by the time the credits role, the emphasis on quantity over quality takes its toll. Unlike other action-orientated movies such as “Gladiator,” which feature a few very memorable sequences, the action in “Prince Caspian” seems to melt together, with no distinguishing features sticking out of the mix. Coupled with the very basic plot of the movie and inherent lack of fear for the main characters’ lives, the action becomes lackluster and repetitive.
The acting in the second installment is considerably improved from the first one though. All four of the Pevensies seem better equipped at their job and the character of Prince Caspian, while a little too wooden at the beginning,shapes up towards the end of the movie.
While more successful fantasy films such as “Lord of the Rings” cleverly blend several cultures in a way that makes them almost hyper-realistic, the world of Narnia is clearly fiction. The creatures and races in “Prince Caspian” seem to be thrown together with the only regard being whether they would “ooh” and “aah” viewers. While the first movie featured a conglomerate of several strange creatures in an army of sorts, the second throws in even more creatures and the Telmarines, who strangely seem to be based largely off of Spanish conquistadors.
In the end, viewers who are fans of the books will enjoy “Prince Caspian” as a companion to the novels, much like the “Harry Potter” films are an enjoyable addition to the books but not better than them. Viewers looking for memorable, tense action, a clever plot and a believable fantasy world should remember that the prince in this fantasy film is Caspian, not Aragorn.