Alright, everybody, hold on tight. I’m going to attempt to do a few things in this film review.
- Dispel a few rumors and myths surrounding changes.
- Bring hope to those who may have lost it because of all of the plot changes that we have heard about.
- Tell what I liked that was in the book.
- Nitpick at a few things that I disliked.
While I’m not going to give away the whole movie in any way, this review will contain spoilers, so stop reading now if you’d like to remain completely spoiler-free.
From rumors circulating on NarniaWeb and other Narnia fan sites, I had expected radical plot changes. While the story progresses in a different way than in the book, it’s actually not too different. I found that there were two big changes. First, none of the children come face to face with Aslan until very near the end. But when Lucy finally does find him, the movie continues in a fashion that is pretty close to the book.
The other change had to do with a large castle raid scene, which was extremely well done, though a bit short for my tastes. I’m hoping that they do an extended edition with more of the raid to flesh it out some more.
The character of Peter is a bit more cocky in the movie than in the book, but not so much that it really got on my nerves. It had been rumored that Peter was going to go around being bossy, fighting Caspian, enforcing his way, and always insisting that he had the better idea. As far as I could see, he never really did force his plans onto Caspian and the Narnians. Instead, it was Caspian who bowed to Peter’s authority as high king, just like in the book.
Although rumors abounded that Susan was going to be a warrior princess who fought in all the battles at every opportunity, her character of gentleness does shine through in many places. For example, when a bear is chasing Lucy, Susan cannot bring herself to kill it, even though her brothers tell her that she should.
Susan does manage to be in both of the large-scale battle sequences, but one appearance is completely by accident. A trailer showed Susan charging into battle with her brothers, and this is in the movie. However, she starts behind the battle with archers on Aslan’s How, then coincidentally ends up on the battlefield.
There’s not much to say about Edmund, except that he has lots of action-packed screen time, most of which cannot be disclosed without spoiling too much. His character stays very true to that of the book. He backs up Lucy when the others won’t listen, and is a good enough brother to help Peter out of his messes.
Again, not much to say. Lucy hasn’t changed much from book to film. She has basically every scene that she had in the book, and a few more that don’t detract from her character too much.
Because the movie doesn’t devote any screen time to Caspian’s tutor telling him about the old Narnians, Caspian is a bit more doubtful of the existence of some of the creatures. But when he meets the old Narnians, one of his questions is, “What about Aslan? What happened to him?” This encouraged me quite bit.
My main complaint with Caspian is his overwhelming desire to know about his father’s death. Dr. Cornelius doesn’t have time to tell him about his father, so we must watch as Caspian changes plans last-minute during the night raid to ask Miraz how his father really died.
Several characters from the book make little appearances for a couple of lines. Pattertwig shows up to make some scatterbrained suggestions, and I think one of his lines was quite closely drawn from the book. Reepicheep has a much larger role in the movie than in the book. He really was well done, and I only wish he had more screen time. Glenstorm did a lot more fighting and a lot less prophesying, but he wasn’t too bad. Miraz had a lot more time to be evil than in the book, which generally made him seem a lot more sinister.
Before I went to see Prince Caspian I read a review that claimed it had Lord of the Rings calibre violence. Not quite, but they did push the fighting pretty far in the movie. There are lots of characters falling off of things, getting shot with arrows, and generally being killed in high numbers. The movie is definitely too intense for young children.
It has been pointed out by several that the book is actually more violent than the movie. Some people have held up sections of the book where characters’ heads end up on the floor as a result of battles. Thankfully, the filmmakers had enough sense to realize that reading about beheadings and seeing them are two different matters entirely, and the movie even goes out of its way once to make sure that the audience knows that Peter did not cut off a Telmarine’s head.
So Close to the Book
One of the things that I enjoyed the most was the huge quantity of lines that seemed almost cut and pasted straight from the book. I found myself recognizing lines all over the place and thinking, “Wow! Right from the book!”
Fans all over the place were shocked when they heard that the White Witch was actually going to be called up in the film, rather than just the possibility being discussed. This scene worked very well, and contrary to early fears, Caspian does not go along with it at all once he realizes what is actually happening.
There are so many little things for fans of the books to pick up on that the filmmaking just didn’t have time to explain. For instance, the Bulgy Bear can be seen sucking his paws during the single combat between Peter and Miraz. He even gets a close up of him sticking his paws in his mouth!
And Yet So Far
I said I’d nitpick, so here I go:
- Reepicheep has one out-of-character moment when he tells Pattertwig to shut up.
- Susan and Caspian are somewhat attracted to each other, shown in a variety of little glances. Just before she leaves, Susan impulsively kisses Caspian, though it’s not too long and it feels a bit more friendly than I expected.
- Trumpkin didn’t say nearly enough of his exclamations. The movie limited him to only two.
I thoroughly enjoyed the second trip into Narnia. My only real wish was for it to be longer, and I will be awaiting an extended edition with great anticipation. Right now, it’s nearly impossible for me to pick a favorite between The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian. Overall, the film captures the essence of a very un-cinematic book very well, and manages to portray it in a recognizable and quite satisfying fashion.