Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Narnia Prince Caspian
Originally uploaded by faith forever
I know that the Narnia films have taken a lot of flack from people for being very unengaging films; sure they’re pretty, it’s interesting to see the classic novels come to life with great special effects and the kids are entertaining. However, the problem with The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is not that is lacks anything visually or that I remember from the book; it merely lacks any character development.

The Pevensie siblings were developed adequately well in The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe so little is needed with their characters; what I think they lacked was a strong director to bring the changes that have taken place in the year they’ve been out of Narnia out of the characters. We understand that they were bitter about “accidentally” leaving Narnia, but an internal struggle has gone on over whether they still believe in the things they witnessed were actually how they remember them. Lucy’s development is simple and clear enough. She still believes in all the things Aslan did and the powers and love he has, but is scared to pursue him because her three siblings have begun to believe Aslan has abandoned them as he abandoned Narnia. The problem lies with the three other children – Peter, Susan & Edmund.

The film tries to portray Peter, Susan & Edmund (especially the older two) as having lost some of their faith in Aslan…but never quite gets there. They just seem moody. And then Edmund seems plagued with a lack of any feeling at all, he can’t seem to come up on Lucy’s side or his older siblings. They suffer from either the need of a stronger director, or a stronger script.

However, the biggest problem is the fact that a whole new score of Narnia residents are introduced and they are simply popped into the film with one or two lines of explanation: the ones who suffer from the worst of this are Trumpkin & Caspian.

Trumpkin is the dwarf that the returned King’s & Queen’s (the Pevensie children) rescue when they first return and he turns into their guide. Other than providing some witty banter here and there Trumpkin and the Pevensie children never seem to form a relationship, yet the audience is told over and over again that they have one. Even at the end of the movie when Lucy has to give Trumpkin a hug before leaving Narnia yet again it evokes no emotion from the audience.

Perhaps the most egregious lack of character development is in Prince Caspian himself. The character is harmed enough by the fact that Ben Barnes can’t act his way out of a paper bag, but the filmmakers cannot expect you to care about the fate of a character that they do not create. So suddenly after Caspian is thrown into the woods of Narnia he’s rallying the Narnian’s to fight against his people and it feels utterly forced – there is no way a character in this situation, seeing what the audience has seen of him, would suddenly want to lead the Narnian’s to freedom. Again, the heart-to-heart that Caspian has with Aslan is one of the flattest moments Caspian has in the film; the audience doesn’t care or believe that he’s scared to be king.

The saving grace of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is actually two CGI characters: Aslan and Reepicheep. Reepicheep is a warrior mouse voiced by Eddie Izzard that steals every scene he is in. Aslan, voiced again to perfection by Liam Neeson is the only character that remains constant through the two movies – we understand his motives, and his affection.

I do not mean to say that Prince Caspian is not entertaining. I enjoyed it. However, it will never make the classic movie status to which it aspires.

Director: Andrew Adamson
Writers: Andrew Adamson & Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Alsan: Lain Neeson
Peter: William Moseley
Susan: Anna Poppelwell
Edmund: Skandar Keynes
Lucy: Georgie Henley
Caspian: Ben Barnes
Reepicheep Eddie Izzard
Trumpkin: Peter Drinklage

Lucy Pevensie: It's so still.
Trumpkin: They're trees. What do you expect?
Lucy Pevensie: They used to dance.


Christina said...

I agree with you about Prince Caspian. When he decided to help Narnia battle with his poeple, I was like "um, where did that come from?" Do you think the lack of character development is something wrong with the story itself or just the movie version? I ask because I don't remember the book and because usually Lewis is a wonderful story teller (especially Till We have Faces and That Hideous Strength).

MrBossLady said...

I think it's the film not the book.

Christina said...

That makes sense. Well, that encourages me to read the books again.

Phoebe Jane said...

I assumed (I know very dangerous to do) that Prince Caspian decided to rally the Narnians because it was a means of preventing them from killing him. This would make his motives pretty nefarious. However, the fact that there are various views as to the reasoning behind his action only soldifies your observation of the lack of character development.

Given this, I still liked this movie.