The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Directed by Andrew Adamson

Written by Mr. Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeeley

Starring Ben Barnes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Peter Dinklage, Sergio Castellitto


The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

First things first: This is not the allegory of Christ that the first film was; in that way it's more a conventional fairy tale/adventure and both better and worse for it. This time, a year later in London but centuries later in Narnia, the Pevensie children are called back to Narnia to help save its people from the ruinous rule of the usurper King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), the uncle who has killed Prince Caspian's father, the legitimate king (think Claudius and Hamlet) and taken the throne. Prince Caspian is the English actor Ben Barnes, who for some reason has chosen to use a Spanish accent that resembles nothing so much as Mandy Patinkin's famous "My name is Inigo Montoya; you killed my fazzer, prepare to die."

Prince Caspian escapes the castle to save himself, while the Pevensie children arrive on a gorgeous seashore (New Zealand) and wonder what they're doing back there again. They meet, let's just say the creatures of the forest, including the dwarf Peter Dinklage and a group of attack mice voiced by Eddie Izzard, along with, of course, the centaurs and the badger. Prince Caspian joins them and insists on attacking the castle right away - a bad idea, as these things go, because if it were successful there wouldn't be any more movie. So the good folk regroup while the bad king assembles his army to rid the country once and for all of these motley rebels.

The Pevensie siblings are each given much work to do, as befits kings and queens, which you may remember they have been made from the first film, and in fact Peter, the oldest (William Moseley), will ultimately have to face King Miraz in a duel to the death. But let me not give any more away; that really isn't the point of the film in any case, since a) this is a sequel and b) the third film is already being written for release in 2010. The point is whether writer/director Andrew Adamson can make the predictable interesting enough to hold our attention.

Which he does, barely, through a very long mid-section, enlivened by a few witty moments of byplay and insults among the group. He misses opportunities to make more of the Pevensie children and their own very lovely and warm relationship, but none too soon the enormous armies of the King are marching across the field, with their trebuchets launching boulders at the outnumbered good folk. But not to worry; Aslan (the voice of Liam Neeson) is there to help (didn't he die in the first film?), as are the trees of the forest, and a very smart gimmick on the battlefield all do their work and the Pevensies are released once again to go back to London and resume their lives, while Prince Caspian (now the king, wiser than before) takes his rightful place on the throne. We all will breathe a sigh of relief and wait for Part 3.