Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)

In this unenchanted world of ordinary moviegoing, it has been about two and a half years since "The Lion,the Witch and the Wardrobe,"the first installment in Walt Disney and Walden Media’s mighty “Chronicles of Narnia” franchise.

So “Prince Caspian” is quite a bit darker than “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” both in look and in mood. It is also in some ways more satisfying. Its violent (though gore-free) combat scenes and high body count may rattle very young viewers, but older children are likely to be drawn into the thick political intrigue. The relative scarcity of digital effects in the first part of the movie allows the director, Andrew Adamson, and the director of photography, Karl Walter Lindenlaub, to explore the beauty of the Narnian landscape by more traditional cinematic means. Its lush glades and rocky escarpments provide a reminder that the supernaturalism of fairy tales originates in the magic of the natural world.

“Prince Caspian” is named for its square-jawed, rather bland hero (played by Ben Barnes), but its major source of dramatic energy is the villain, Caspian’s uncle Miraz, who is played with malignant grandeur by the great Italian actor Sergio Castellitto. Miraz is a classic royal usurper, who has taken the throne from Caspian’s father, the rightful king, and who plans to pass it along to his own newborn son once Caspian is out of the way. His court is a viper’s nest of double-dealing and shifting allegiance.

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