The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is based on Prince Caspian, the second published novel in C. S. Lewis’s fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. It is the second in The Chronicles of Narnia film series, following The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). Work on the script began before The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was released, so filming could begin before the actors grew too old for their parts.
As the film opens, the Pevensie children, Peter (William Moseley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Susan (Anna Popplewell), and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are still in London. While they have barely aged, the time that’s passed in Narnia has been expansive, over millennia as it happens. When they are returned to Narnia, they discover a very different land. Cair Paravel lies in ruins and the magical beings of the land appear to be gone.

caspian.jpgThe children learn that Narnia has been overtaken by Telmarines. The native Narnians have been driven to the brink of extinction, and they are so scarce that even the Telmarine heir to the throne, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), remains unaware of their existence. When Caspian’s uncle Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), serving as “Lord Protector” of the empire after his brother’s death, learns that his wife has birthed him a son, Caspian flees the kingdom and barely escapes an assassination attempt, his death ensuring Miraz and his line as the sole heirs to the throne. Upon his escape, Caspian signals for the ancient King and Queens of Narnia using Susan’s long-lost magical horn just before being captured by native Narnians. Caspian convinces the Narnians that, unlike the other Telmarines, he wants to overthrow his uncle’s iron-fisted rule. When he is finally joined by the Pevensie’s, the heroes and all of the remaining Narnians set out to free themselves of the oppressive Telmarine rule once and for all.
There is no question that The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian has a far darker tone than its predecessor, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Nobody seems particularly happy, and the children don’t have a cheerful companion along for the journey this time. Trumpkin walks around looking rather downcast the entire time and the animals want to kill, rather than chat. Even the kids seem older, and less in awe of the whole situation, which leaves the film lacking some of the sense of wonder that was present in the first.
All of these changes aren’t necessarily bad. Due to their newfound maturity, the Pevensie children seem to realize that all of the battles do have serious ramifications and there’s really nothing fun or wondrous about them. When the children are leaving Narnia to return to Narnia, they all know that the experience has changed them somehow, forcing them to see the world a little differently.
Prince Caspian would have been a stronger film if director Andrew Adamson (Shrek) had spent more time focusing on the growth of the children. Instead, it appears Adamson wanted to regal viewers with external shots (which admittedly are quite good) and the occasional computer generated character. But some of this is excessive, and other times it’s just done in paint by numbers fashion. Aslan and The White Witch return in brief scenes, but that’s really nothing more than to remind you that they’re still around. At the end of the day, I hardly got the epic feel or the sense of adventure that the first film gave me.
The AVC/MPEG-4 transfer is a strong one, with no artifacts on the feature (just, strangely enough, on one of the HD extras.There just the slightest hint of grain and an equally slight softness that makes everything look believable as an alternate world. The level of detail is particularly good, with no DNR, just strongly delineated edges to begin with. Prince Caspian is presented in 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
The disc possesses a solid 7.1 channel English DTS-HD (48kHz/24-bit), with great distribution of sound that never draws attention to itself. And yet, it’s one of the best audio jobs of 2008. Additional audio options are French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, and Chinese Dolby Digital 5.1, with subtitles in English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese.
Looking at all three discs of Prince Caspian and understanding that the third disc houses the now-legendary digital copy, the extras aren’t too bad.
On Disc 1 there’s the commentary track and a “Circle-Vision Interactive: Creating the Castle feature.”
On the commentary track, it’s clear that Adamson allows his actors plenty of freedom to express themselves, because his five young stars who join him here interject with all sorts of remarks.
For the Circle-Vision feature, director Adamson foes the introductions, which is a 360-degree shot of the castle that was built over five weeks by 200 craftsmen, and on each segment there are circles to click on to access specific bonus features. There are 13 audio commentaries in all, and ten scenes to click on to access more information about the process.
Disc two features a three minute-blooper reel, a five-minute short on how long it takes Peter Dinklage to become Trumpkin, a seven-minute “Secrets of the Duel” that explains the choreography for the key battle, a five-minute snippet on animating the animals and trees, a 10-minute pre-visualization extra, an 11-minute short on how Warwick Davis becomes the dwarf Nikabrik, and 11 minutes (10, in all) of deleted scenes.
More substantial is the longest feature, “Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns” (34 min.) It’s here where we get the basic story behind the movie, and how reluctant at first Adamson was to do the sequel. In “Sets of Narnia: A Classic Comes to Life” (23 min.) we get the full story on Lewis and see pages from the original book compared to natural settings that Adamson and his crew actually found to match. Readings from the text are juxtaposed against narratives about how the filmmakers tried to recapture as faithfully as possible all of the settings that Lewis described. It’s possibly my favorite of the bunch. About the same length is “Big Movie Comes to a Small Town,” which feels like an extension of the previous feature because it’s about a specific location–the town of Bovec, Slovenia, on the River Soca. On this small town over 1000 cast and crew descended, and since there weren’t enough places for them to stay, many stayed with families in private homes.