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DISNEY / WALDEN MEDIA

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Andrew Adamson
Cast:
Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Sergio Castellitto, Peter Dinklage, Warwick Davis, Vincent Grass
Writing Credits:
Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, C.S. Lewis (book)

Tagline:
A New Age Has Begun.

Synopsis:
The magical world of C.S. Lewis' beloved fantasy comes to life once again in Prince Caspian, the second installment of The Chronicles of Narnia series. Join Peter, Susan, Edmund, Lucy, the mighty and majestic Aslan, friendly new Narnian creatures and Prince Caspian as they lead the Narnians on a remarkable journey to restore peace and glory to their enchanted land. Continuing the adventure of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with more magic and a brand-new hero, Prince Caspian is a triumph of imagination, courage, love, joy and humor your whole family will want to watch again and again.

Box Office:
Budget
$200 million.
Opening Weekend
$55.034 million on 3929 screens.
Domestic Gross
$141.614 million.

MPAA:
Rated PG

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Widescreen 2.40:1/16x9
Audio:
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French
Closed-captioned Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
French

Runtime: 149 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 12/2/2008

Bonus:
Disc One
• Audio Commentary with Director Andrew Adamson and Actors William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley
• Sneak Peeks
Disc Two
• “The Bloopers of Narnia
• Deleted Scenes
• “Inside Narnia: The Adventure Continues” Featurette
• “Sets of Narnia: A Classic Comes to Life” Featurette
• “Big Movie Comes to a Small Town” Featurette
• “Previsualizing Narnia” Featurette
• “Talking Animals and Walking Trees: The Magical World of Narnia” Featurette
• “Secrets of the Duel” Featurette
• “Becoming Trumpkin” Featurette
• “Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik” Featurette
• “Legends in Time” Timeline
Disc Three
• Digital Copy


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RELATED REVIEWS


The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Collector's Edition) (2008)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 1, 2008)

Movies don’t have to be holiday related to “feel” like holiday movies. When the first Harry Potter flick came out right before Thanksgiving 2001, it made sense. The film’s tone just felt natural for that time of year, and the trend continued with 2002’s Chamber of Secrets.

When the third flick became a summer release, the schedule just didn’t seem “right”. Was it a coincidence that summer 2004’s Prisoner of Azkaban remains the lowest-grossing Potter to date? Maybe; 2007’s Order of the Phoenix was a summer release and did just fine. Still, there’s something fall/winter about Potter, a notion confirmed by the general resentment toward WB’s choice to move the sixth film from Thanksgiving 2008 to summer 2009.

Not that Potter is the only series to boast that holiday feel. 2005’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe turned into a left-field hit. The 2005 holiday season was supposed to belong to King Kong, but Narnia crept up and became that period’s big flick. Heck, it even narrowly outsold the fourth Potter effort. Like Potter, this was a series that just gave off the “holiday season” vibe.

So what did the suits behind the Narnia do? They messed with success. Rather than release 2008’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian in the fall/winter, they plopped it smack-dab in the middle of a very busy summer season. As it turns out, if Caspian had been saved for holiday 2008, it would’ve had a wide-open playing field; because WB shifted the sixth Potter to 2009, Caspian would’ve essentially had the family/fantasy crowd to itself.

Instead, the Powers That Be decided to drop Caspian on May 16, 2008. That was only two weeks after the Iron Man juggernaut struck and just a week before the heavily anticipated fourth Indiana Jones movie. Perhaps the suits thought the “PG” Caspian would get a more “family” crowd than those “PG-13” action releases.

Apparently they were wrong. While both Iron Man and Indy grabbed more than $300 million apiece, Caspian limped to a final gross of only $141 million. That figure equaled less than half of Wardrobe’s take. In an era during which sequels like The Dark Knight routinely better their predecessors, this downward trend came as a surprise – and a bad omen for the future of the Narnia franchise.

It looks like we’ll get a third Narnia flick anyway, but obviously it won’t come with as much hoopla. Personally, I didn’t expect a whole lot from either of the first two Narnia tales. I saw Wardrobe theatrically because my Dad wanted to go, and I skipped Caspian on the big screen. I described Wardrobe as “enjoyable but not noteworthy”, so obviously I wasn’t champing at the bit to see the sequel.

Caspian takes us back to the magical land of Narnia. When his aunt (Alicia Borrachero) gives birth to a potential heir to the throne, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) becomes the target of the baby’s father, the scheming Lord Miraz (Sergio Castellito). Only Caspian’s demise would leave the door open for the newborn to eventually take power, with Miraz at the helm in the meantime. This forces Caspian to flee for his life, where diminutive Narnians help keep him safe.

Meanwhile, we head back to WWII-era England and the film reintroduces us to the Pevensie kids: Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley). A year after the events of the first film, the kids are back in London, but they find it tough to adjust to normal life after living like royalty in Narnia.

They don’t have to wait too long to return, as the movie quickly zaps them back to that realm. However, this isn’t the same Narnia they knew. Even though only a year of London-time has passed, Narnia is now 1300 years in the future. The kids try to piece together what happened in the meantime.

The two sides unite before long. When last seen, Caspian blew a loud horn, and it turns out that this device summoned the Pevensies. They rescue a Narnian named Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage) from Miraz’s minions, and he educates them about the current situation. We find out that the Telmarines – the people of Miraz and Caspian – essentially exterminated the Narnians years ago, but the return of the Pevensies may help aide in a Narnian revival, all with Caspian at the center as one to unite the sides.

When we go into a sequel, we usually expect the story to offer a pretty concise continuation. The risk that Caspian takes comes from the way it largely discards so many of the elements that fans liked from Wardrobe. While the four Pevensie kids return, virtually all of the secondary characters fail to reappear; a few of them make glorified cameos, but they don’t receive substantial screentime.

Since the four Pevensie kids return, the absence of the supporting characters shouldn’t matter, but it does. Part of the problem stems from the fact the kids are all pretty dull. Back in Wardrobe, Keynes and Henley managed to emerge as interesting little performers, but the same doesn’t occur here. I don’t blame the actors; instead, the fault lies with the story, as it just doesn’t give them much to do.

The bland Moseley and Popplewell don’t pick up the slack, either as actors or characters, so the four “leads” fail to deliver much drama. Indeed, the movie often seems unconcerned with them. I get the feeling the story would rather dispose with them altogether and concentrate on new roles/events. Some continuity was required, however, so we get the token involvement of the Pevensies.

Perhaps “token” is unfair, as it makes it sound like the Pevensies sit on the sofa the whole time. That’s not true, as the movie does use them to a generally active degree; it just doesn’t seem like the story wants to feature them. I get a sense of almost grudging involvement, as they don’t deliver much in the way of compelling drama.

Instead, Caspian prefers its title character, and that’s a problem. The internal drama between Caspian and Miraz feels like warmed over Shakespeare Lite; there’s no complexity or dimensionality on display. Barnes sports a great head of hair but not much else. The Brit adopts a wholly unconvincing Spanish accent that leads me to believe his research consisted of nothing more than multiple screenings of Antonio Banderas flicks. Caspian is a dull character, and Barnes does nothing to add zest to the role.

All of this makes Caspian a long 149 minutes. Perhaps if I felt more initial investment in the Narnia universe, I might take more from Caspian. As I mentioned, I thought Wardrobe was reasonably entertaining but no more than that.

After my viewing of Caspian, “reasonably entertaining” sounds pretty good. Though not a total loss, little about Caspian managed to hold my attention. The film told a thin tale about a power struggle that lacked depth or three-dimensionality. It produced a few decent battle scenes but never managed to turn into anything special – or even particularly enjoyable.


The DVD Grades: Picture C+/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Though not poor, this was a generally lackluster transfer.

Some of my complaints related to shadow detail. While blacks came across as tight, low-light shots tended to be too dense. No, they weren’t totally opaque, but I thought the shadows looked too dark, and it became tough to discern the action. Since Caspian featured quite a few nighttime scenes, this was a problem.

Sharpness came with its own concerns. Though the majority of the movie boasted reasonably good definition, more than a few exceptions occurred. I noticed mild to moderate edge enhancement on more than a few occasions, and those haloes gave wide shots a fuzzy and tentative look. The image could also be a little blocky at times.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering occurred, and I witnessed no source flaws. Colors were fine. The movie featured a palette that was on the subdued side of natural; the flick didn’t often display dynamic hues, but they weren’t desaturated, either. The tones seemed acceptably full and rich within the production parameters. Overall, the image remained watchable, but between the softness and the shadow issues, I thought it seemed mediocre.

At least the Dolby Digital 5.1 of Caspian proved more satisfying. Audio quality always appeared solid. Effects showed fine delineation and accuracy, and they also offered nice bass response. Low-end provided good depth and bite. Music was similarly full and dynamic, as the score presented nice warmth as well. Speech sounded natural and concise.

The soundfield used the movie’s action scenes to bring it to life. Quieter sequences had their moments as well, as pieces like a train and general atmosphere showed nice breadth and definition. However, it was the battles and other showcase bits that added some power to the mix. I didn’t think any of these dazzled, but they produced good breadth and involvement. While nothing here really excelled, the result was good enough for a “B+”.

This two-disc set comes chock full of extras. Starting on DVD One, we find an audio commentary with director Andrew Adamson and actors Ben Barnes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley. All six sit together for a running, screen-specific piece. Adamson tosses in some details about production elements like sets, effects and locations, while the actors tend to discuss performance topics.

All of which adds up to a generally informative but decidedly unexceptional commentary. Oh, you’ll receive a decent overview of the production but you won’t get anything more stimulating than that. This is a perfectly acceptable track that simply fails to ever become especially involving.

DVD One launches with some ads. We get promos for Blu-Ray Discs, Pinocchio, SpaceBuddies, Disney Movie Rewards and Earth. These also appear in the Sneak Peeks area along with clips for Legend of the Seeker and The Cheetah Girls: One World.

With that we head to DVD Two. Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns runs 34 minutes, 43 seconds as it includes notes from Adamson, Moseley, Henley, Popplewell, Keynes, Barnes, Walden Media Co-CEO Cary Granat, producer Mark Johnson, visual effects supervisors Wendy Rogers, Jon Thum and Dean Wright, editor Sim Evan-Jones, special makeup and creature designer Howard Berger, second AD Jeff Okabayashi, first AD KC Hoddenfeld, key prosthetic makeup artist Tami Lane, costume designer Isis Mussenden, stunt and fight coordinator Allan Poppleton, and actors Peter Dinklage, Pierfrancesco Favino, and Eddie Izzard. “Returns” looks at challenges related to the sequel and story, locations and logistical issues, Adamson’s impact on the production, sets and effects, new characters, cast and performances.

With a running time of nearly 35 minutes, I expected something pretty substantial from “Returns”. While we do find some good behind the scenes elements, the show maintains a rather relentless promotional tone. Essentially it repeatedly tells us how big everything in the new movie is; the flick’s scope becomes the primary focus. We do learn enough to make the show decent, but it’s not a great program.

Visual design comes to the fore in the 23-minute and 42-second Sets of Narnia: A Classic Comes to Life. We hear from Adamson, Johnson, Barnes, Moseley, Evan-Jones, Popplewell, Favino, Henley, writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, set decorator Kerrie Brown, co-producer Douglas Gresham, production designer Roger Ford, supervising art director Frank Walsh, propmaker Roland Stevenson, art director Katja Soltes and actors Warwick Davis and Vincent Grass.

This show tells us more about the locations as well as the design of the movie’s sets. That promotional tone persists here, but not to the degree found in “Return”. At least “Life” balances the puffery with good material, as it provides a nice examination of the various design issues. Expect a good take on the topics here.

We learn about locations via Big Movie Comes to a Small Town. In this 23-minute and 18-second show, we find remarks from Adamson, Ford, Walsh, Popplewell, Johnson, Berger, Lane, Evan-Jones, Barnes, line producer Diego Zanco, production coordinator Ira Cecic, bridge builder Gorazd Humar, location manager Zdravko Madzarevic, actor Shane Rangi, accomodations coordinator Vanja Sepec, art director Dave Allday, and various local Slovenes. Here we see how the production worked within the tiny realm of Bovec, Slovenia. That perspective makes “Movie” something unusual, as it offers an intriguing examination of the way a big film production can take over a small area. Though it occasionally feels like a tourism promotion, it’s an interesting little show.

Pre-visualizing Narnia lasts 10 minutes, eight seconds and features Adamson, Evan-Jones, Wright, Johnson, lead pre-visualization artists Scott Meadows and Michael Makara, pre-visualization supervisor Rpin Suwannath, storyboard artist Federico D’Alessandro, and film editor Josh Campbell. We learn a little about pre-viz techniques and their use in Caspian. Like most of the other featurettes, this one feels a little too puffy at times. Nonetheless, it includes enough worthwhile information to make it useful.

The DVD covers secondary characters during the four-minute and 51-second Talking Animals and Walking Trees: The Magical World of Narnia. It includes statements from Adamson, Moseley, Johnson, Mussenden, Wright, Izzard, Popplewell, and specialty wardrobe, armour and weapons Richard Taylor. They do little more than tell us a little about the movie’s themes and their favorite characters. It fails to become interesting.

10 Deleted Scenes run a total of 11 minutes, 18 seconds. Most of these contribute short, unnecessary bits of exposition; they simply flesh out concepts we already understand and become redundant. We do meet a deleted character called Bulgy Bear, though. Note that the running time includes audio intros from Adamson; he explains where the scenes fit into the film and lets us know why he cut them.

The Bloopers of Narnia runs three minutes and six seconds. This presents a pretty standard blooper reel. We get goof-ups and silliness, so don’t expect anything unusual. It is fun to see some of the shots before the addition of effects, though.

Next comes the six-minute and 46-second Secrets of the Duel. It provides notes from Adamson, Ford, Taylor, Poppleton, lead standby armourer Ben Price, key armour/weapons standby Rob Gillies and Joe Dunckley, and director of photography Karl Walter Lindenlaub. This show looks at the various elements that makeup the Miraz/Peter fight. Unsurprisingly, more fluff appears here, but we still find a few good notes about the various elements.

Becoming Trumpkin lasts four minutes, 48 seconds and features Adamson, Dinklage, Johnson, Berger, Henley, and Popplewell. We learn a little about the Trumpkin makeup as well as Dinklage’s performance. Once again, this show feels rather promotional. Despite a few decent tidbits, it doesn’t add up to much.

For the last featurette, Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik goes for 11 minutes, seven seconds. It follows a day in the life of Davis on the set; we follow him through makeup and other aspects of his life on the shoot. That makes it a bit more interesting than more of the DVD’s other pieces.

Finally, DVD Three includes a Digital Copy of Caspian. It seems like every DVD provides this option these days; it allows you to easily transfer the flick to a portable device. I have no use for it, but I guess someone must dig it.

Although I didn’t think The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe was a great film, it looks like a classic compared to its sequel. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian lacks its predecessor’s minor magic and charm. It provides a fairly tired, dull tale and never manages to become special or involving. The DVD offers mediocre picture quality, good audio and a generally good roster of extras. This becomes an erratic release for a lackluster movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.1666 Stars Number of Votes: 12
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main