Prince Caspian is Anything but Charming

30 05 2008

Prince Narnia Poster

“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” 2008

Starring: Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, and Anna Popplewell

A friend recommended that I rent “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” before seeing the latest Narnia installment “Prince Caspian.” Logical advice, of course, but even so, it was advice that I ultimately chose to ignore. Instead, I walked into the theater with the hope that I’d be able to offer other first-timers insight into whether or not the film was worth seeing as an independent entity.

Verdict: Not so much. But not because I felt lost for not seeing the first Narnia film. Throughout the film, I did maintain a vague confusion about certain plot mechanics that were undoubtedly explained in “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” but this was not the reason why I choose not to endorse this film.

The characters were only moderately likeable, and boring battle scenes dominated most of the two-plus hours of running time. I felt cheated by the ending. After spending more than half the film watching the underdogs try to hold their own against the villains, a previously uninvolved party essentially swooped in to save the day. What is supposed to be a magnificent victory ends up being thoroughly disappointing because the heroes don’t have much of a hand in it. The film halfheartedly positions itself for a romance between two principal characters through such indications as lingering starry-eyed gazes and a valiant rescue evocative of a tired fairy-tale. But the characters have little chemistry to begin with, and the film compounds this by giving them as little time alone onscreen as possible. By the time she declares that their love affair would be doomed from the start, we had almost forgotten that a romance was ever implied in the first place.

That said, the strength of “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” lay in its special effects. For some people, nine bucks and a couple of hours are a more than fair trade for such a visual spectacular. For me, I need a little more.

As someone slightly unappreciative of computer graphics and animation (due more to my disinterest in such vehicles for entertainment than for any other reason), I found it difficult to be inspired by the walking, talking, sometimes squawking computer creations alone. Narnia looks too much like a fairy tale kingdom where human beings and animated images live in harmony. Kind of like in the film “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” except that “Narnia” wants for us to look at its animated characters with some confusion over who or what is real and what is not. In the end, it didn’t fool me.

♦½

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