The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

The sequel is livelier, with more actioneat in it than The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — the first of the films being made from C.S. Lewis' seven Narnia books. But that 2005 box-office hit should have taught a lesson. Lewis wrote with a Christian agenda, and Walden Media, releasing these films through Disney, is similarly committed. Step up for Prince Caspian, and what you get is a PG rating, family values, battles without blood and an animated lion named Aslan standing in for the resurrected Jesus and voiced by Liam Neeson. No sense in complaining that you're watching Lord of the Rings lite. That's the point. So where were we? In Narnia, 1,300 years have passed. But a mere year has zipped by for the four Pevensiehildren: Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley, still a cutie-pie). In a London tube station, the four are hurled back to fantastical Narnia, there they must restore Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) to the throne usurped by his evil uncle, Miraz (Sergio Castellitto). The British Barnes, 26, makes a dashing hero, despite wrestling with a Spanish accent. But human actors don't stand a chance against a sword-fighting mouse (voiced by Eddie Izzard) and assorted bears, badgers, giants, minotaurs and centaurs — all chatty as hell. Two exceptions are Peter Dinklage, as a smartass dwarf, and Tilda Swinton, fresh from her Michael Clayton Oscar, making a frustratingly brief return as the White Witch. They offer devilish fun. Junkies for dark humor should prep foroing cold turkey, despite the efforts of director Andrew Adamson to spice things up with combat and a rivalry between Caspian and Peter good on Moseley for showing some backbone) that Lewis never imagined. If anything, this sequel could have used more hellfire. You leave feeling covered in a blanket of bland.

From The Archives Issue 120: October 26, 1972