The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Posted on December 1, 2008 at 8:00 am

prince%20caspian.jpgThe Pevensie children are back in London and contemporary life seems pale and uninvolving compared to their adventures in the magical land of Narnia. As they wait for the Tube, a wall opens up and just as happened when they went through the wardrobe, they stand before the entryway to Narnia again. This time, they know immediately where they are. What they don’t know is when they are. Everything is different. “I don’t remember any ruins in Narnia,” one says. Lucy (Georgie Henley) confidently approaches a bear, introducing herself as though she was inviting him to tea. But he growls and charges. “I don’t think he could talk at all,” she says with surprise. “If treated like a wild animal long enough, that’s what you become,” explains Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage in heavy gnomish make-up). “You may find Narnia a more savage place than you remember.”
“Everything you know is about to change,” says one character and that serves as a warning and a prediction that applies to all of the great adventures before the Pevensies — the battle for Narnia, the challenges of growing up, and the struggles of leadership, faith, and principle.
As the Pevensies explore, they find that 1300 years have passed in Narnia since they helped Aslan the lion (voice of Liam Neeson) defeat the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) and end the tyranny of Narnia’s perpetual winter. It is summer, but there is no peace and prosperity in Narnia. The nearby Telmarines have done their best to wipe out all of Narnia. Those creatures who are left are in hiding, without a leader. Aslan, who seemed the answer to all questions in their first visit may have been glimpsed by Lucy, but the others are not willing to believe her. And they meet up with Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), the rightful heir to the throne of the Telemarines, usurped by his evil uncle. Wary of each other at first, Caspian and the Pevensies join forces to battle for the freedom of the Narnians.
Like the first film, this is a grand and visually stunning epic with thrilling battle scenes and powerful themes. This one has more violence but also more humor, especially from the most welcome new character, a mouse with the heart of a lion and the voice of Eddie Izzard. Like the book, one of the less compelling of the seven-volume series, it is not as involving as the first. Barnes has a nice screen presence (though his accent sounds like he is trying out for a road show version of “West Side Story” as one of the Sharks). The pacing is strong, the effects are superb, and the battles are exciting. The themes are presented with a subtlety that encourages thoughtful consideration, with a range of possible interpretations.
Don’t let the PG rating fool you. This is a long, intense, violent epic with the deaths of both good guys and bad guys, and it is not suitable for young children. The earlier film had some difficult and troubling material, including the shearing and apparent death of Aslan and the emotional corruption of one of the Pevensie children by the White Witch. But this one has a childbirth scene (with the mother in evident distress) and a retreat from battle that involves the loss of Narnians that is the fault of one of the Pevensies. The disturbing material may be darker than the first for some viewers.

Parents should know that this movie has very intense and explicit battle violence for a PG film, including arrows, crossbows, catapults, swords, knives, and various kinds of mayhem. Characters are injured and killed (including some of the good guys), including a beheading. There are some scary-looking monsters and some tense and menacing confrontations. The movie opens with a childbirth scene that shows the mother in considerable distress.
Families who see this movie should talk about why only Lucy saw Aslan. Why did he say (twice) that things never happen the same way twice? Why doesn’t he help them sooner?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the original and the books by C.S. Lewis. Older viewers will enjoy Shadowlands, based on the real-life love story between Lewis (played by Anthony Hopkins) and American writer Joy Gresham. The British version of the story is also excellent.

Related Tags:


Action/Adventure Based on a book Epic/Historical Family Issues Fantasy Series/Sequel

28 Replies to “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian”

  1. Same, here. I’m organizing my movie club to go see it on May 31.
    I am pumped!!!

  2. Thank you so much for this review; I named my daughter Lucy for the character from the books, and was so pleased when they began making the movies. But I was concerned about the violence of this sequel from watching the trailers, and now I know for sure that she is just too young (turned four years old a few weeks back) to take her to the theater to see it. Thank you so much!

  3. I went to the movie this afternoon. It was better than the reviews. One of the greatest parts – forgotten or overlooked by the reviewers – is the sense of humor. Some parts of it are quite funny!! Also, the change in Susan – from helpmate to warrior princess – is far more fitting than the way Lewis portrayed her. The battle scenes are excellent – partly because they show the consequence of war. There are sad parts. But there are heroic episodes, too. And Izzard is GREAT as Reepicheep – just the right tone and attitude. Peter Dinklage is phenomenal as Trumpkin – a true relative of Gimli!! I think he almost stole the movie. The special effects are special – with kudos especially for the minotaurs. They changed the story some, but the changes work. And they surely set up the next book.
    This film gets a jestrfyl A, without hesitation or qualification. SEE IT!!

  4. Slightly spoilerish remarks below:
    I saw “Prince Caspian” on Saturday. I thought, speaking quite honestly, it was deeper, darker, and better than the book. Peter Dinklage underplayed the role of Trumpkin in a way that was surprising and very refreshing. He was really terrific.
    I thought the choice of giving Peter a chip on his shoulder this time around was excellent. The idea that, in this installment, the main characters had to have faith, muddle through as best they could, and try to do the right thing in the absence of Aslan (until the film’s end) gave the story a weight that was missing from C.S. Lewis’s book.
    I can hardly wait to see what Andrew Adamson makes out of “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” which may be my favorit of all the Narnia books.

  5. I took three kids to see this yesterday and while it was a pretty clean movie, it did have a lot more fighting than I remember in the first movie. It was just not near as kid friendly as the first one. Since the main plot was spelled out in the first movie, this second movie was mainly a lot of fighting. I enjoyed the movie but the 5, 8, and 9 year old kids that I took were very restless after about the two hour mark! Just a little too much fighting and lasted way too long for younger children.

  6. David, there’s a lot less fighting and a lot more voyaging in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

  7. This film has been bastardized from all of its theological bearing–it was not written as fantasy, but as allegory, darnit. The “themes” and “principles” you talk about are for emotional-jerking plot-filling tripe that has nothing to do with the original book. There’s something you should focus when choosing what your children will see–not “how much fighting there is.” Who cares? Sheltering your children won’t change the world they grow up into, just the level of their naivete to it. At least this violence has a point & sense to it.

  8. I attended this movie with my husband, two daughters (7 & 10), my friends and their children, who are the same age as mine. The kids said they had to close their eyes once and there were some spots where they felt scared. They loved the movie though.
    I thought the battles were intense, but clean – there wasn’t any blood. There were far less scary characters in this movie than the first Narnia. No swearing either – Hooray!
    We all were on the edge of our seats and walked away in deep thought and feeling good.
    Can’t wait for the Dawn Treader! Does anyone know if Disney will do the Magician’s Nephew?

  9. Thanks for all these comments, everyone! Adam, one of the main issues we address here has to do with how we decide what is appropriate for each family and each child, based on the values and preferences of the parents and children. There is a big difference between trying to make sure that material is presented to children in an accessible way that is appropriate for their developmental level and “sheltering” them. I am sure you would agree that not all material is right for all people and all ages; how we make those decisions is a topic for thoughtful discussion.
    And yes, Christina, Disney/Walden plans to film all of the books. I look forward to five more!

  10. As a child I was obsessed with reading the Narnia books… was very proud of having read them all at least 20 times. Prince Caspian was always my least favorite: very muddled, very “human”, and ends with Aslan solving it all, basically.
    A preview of the others:
    Voyage of the Dawn Treader… the ultimate “road” movie. Edmund, Lucy and cousin (Eustace) sail with Prince Caspian and Reepicheep to the end of the world. This could be a great children’s movie: some scary parts but no big battles etc.
    The Silver Chair: what a great book. Eustace and friend (Polly) journey underground to rescue Prince Caspian’s son (along with Jar-Jar Binks… not really, but kind-of). The movie-makers will probably make a relatively small change and bring back the White Witch as the one holding the prince prisoner. I imagine that this movie will be too scary for kids.
    Magician’s Nephew: flashback! Back to the creation of Narnia. Digory (the old man from Lion Witch and the Wardrobe) as a young boy journeys across worlds and we see Narnia built, and we see how the White Witch comes to Narnia. Could be a great kids movie, with a few scary bits. Best. Flying Horse. Ever.
    The Horse and his Boy. Undoubtedly my favorite of the books as a boy. A road movie into Narnia from elsewhere in the world. takes place durring the rule of the children as kings and queens. Susan and Lucy appear as adults in cameos, but the central character is Bree, a talking horse, and his boy Shasta, a native of the Narnia world. Since I first read this I have been excited to see the movie! The plot is so good, the scope amazing, the characters so fully formed… I predict that this movie will be the token oscar winner of the cycle. Will be a reasonable kids movie… one big battle scene, a lot of suspense.
    The Last Battle. So sad. Polly and Eustace come to Narnia in the last days. Way too depressing and violent for kids.
    As the religion themes go you can’t get bigger than the creation (Magician’s Nephew) and desctruction (Last Battle) of worlds. Voyage of the Dawn Treader essentially ends on the frontier of Heaven. The others (Horse and his Boy and Silver Chair) less so.

  11. I loved “The Silver Chair” too, Rob C. But, I’m not sure about filming “The Last Battle.” I just don’t think there is anyway to make the religious nature of that story subtle.

  12. Nell, I appreciate your Movie Mom reviews! There are too many critics who do not take into account children’s developmental stages and the effects of violence, along with other adult themed elements, on them. In the past I have relied on the rating system and newspaper critics, big mistake! I read all the books when I was younger and was very excited when the Chronicles of Narnia came out. Our family and another family went to see it (age range 7 to 17). We thought it was ‘safe’ since it was rated PG. The kids under 11 had their eyes closed toward the last 20 to 30 minutes of the movie! Personally, I believe it should have been rated PG13 and am not sure how they were able to rate it as PG as if we were back in the 1970’s. (Did you know that the rating of PG-13 was created because of the second IJ: Temple of Doom? Yup, Spielberg and Lucas petitioned the movie board to have it created since they felt it was too violent for younger kids). I am looking forward to seeing Prince Caspian, but leaving the younger set at home!

  13. My group of an 8yo, 20yo, and two 50yo’s, found the movie dreadful. The landscape is beautiful and the fx are amazing, but the plot was unconvincing about the evil of the humans, the nobility of the creatures, the 4 children were tedious, the Christian symbolism was very, very difficult to find, war was the answer to everything, the bloodless battles are cruelly misleading about how war is in reality, the length was endless, the teen romance was injected as a sop to the teen audience. C.S. Lewis can be heard spinning in his grave. I would not let a child younger than 12 see the movie. There is nothing a child younger will take from the movie other than battle and swords. Nothing hopeful at least.

  14. Chronicles of Narnia Prince Caspian is a great movie for grades 5-8. This movie includes a lot of killing and fighting. Although this movie is violent, it does not show much blood and pain.

  15. I really enjoyed the movie. Although, I did feel this was not as “Child friendly” as the first was. Even though there was very little blood in the fighting and dying scenes. Those scenes were VERY intense. Especially the one at the castle and a bit much for younger viewers. Sometimes it isn’t the amount of the violence but the intensity of it that parents need to be aware of.
    I personally do not think younger children under 10 or so should see it.

  16. I thought the movie was great. So did my 7 yr old daughter. War happens. At least this wasn’t gorry and I believe that is how they got the PG rating. No bad language, sexual content or blood makes for a good family movie to me.

  17. I thought that the movie was awesome. My six year old son loved it and thought that it was better than the first one. I thought it was a very good family movie! There are certainly a lot more things I object to on Nickelodeon or other so-called kid’s shows than the fighting contained in this movie. When the characters died, there wasn’t any blood, they just fell down.

  18. I did not enjoy this movie at all. They turned c.s. lewis’s masterpiece into a story that cut and pasted in order to turn a bigger profit. They invented a love interest, completely added the invasion of the castle, created a feud between caspian and peter, and turned peter from a regal former king into an angsty teenager. They also added the fight at the beginning and completely changed the dispositions of many of the characters. If C.S. lewis was still alive, this movie would have been insulting to him.

  19. This movie was GREAT! i took a group of jr high/high school kids to see it and they LOVED it. not too much violence, but enough to entertain. 🙂 great story of overcoming the problem of having too much pride!

  20. Took my 9yo and wish I had not. The symbolism of C.S. Lewis is completely lost. The plot is weakly developed. The violence is almost non-stop. Some have said it is bloodless, so the constant fighting, stabbing, goring, hacking is okay. I don’t get that. Violence is violence. The message of the movie, other than one faint line from the little girl, is that war is the way to resolve to conflict. Blessed are the peacemakers, I thought. Special effects are intense, some scary characters, too long. I would put it in the worst 10 movies I have seen in recent years.

  21. This is most definitely NOT a family film. It is a mind-numbing violent war movie with no charm and no redeeming value. If you want to desensitize your Middle school children to violence, by all means take them. If you want to bring up caring, responsible human beings, keep them away. Sure, C.S. Lewis’ original story talks about redemption and spirituality. But it is lost in the constant battles and death.

  22. This DVD along with Ms Rowling’s “Beedle the Bard” book are astronomically high on my Christmas List. My problem will be waiting 25 days to get to them both. Alas, a sign of maturity is being able to delay gratification. Rats! maturity stinks!!
    I cannot WAIT for “Dawn Treader”!!
    I do wish LEGO was the licensee for Narnia rather than Mega Blocks (these do not stay together well and they pre-model too many of the pieces for my taste). I really like my Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, Star Wars sets, and I think LEGO would have done a much better job with these.

  23. Oops, the above remarks are mine, jestrfyl. This whole security block of letters and numbers is numbing.

  24. I am truly sorry about that! Please keep trying and I hope the comment process improves as the kinks are ironed out.

  25. Do you still give out your movie reviews on the radio, just wondering? And thanks for all your reviews, they are great!

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