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.