The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Released: May 16, 2008
written by Regina Spektor
arranged & produced by Harry Gregson-Williams
recorded & mixed by Peter Cobbin
performed by Regina Spektor
Courtesy of Sire Records
"A Dance 'Round The Memory Tee"
written by Oren Lavie
produced by Valgeir Sigurdsson & Oren Lavie
recorded & mixed by Valgeir Sigurdsson
performed by Oren Lavie
"This Is Home"
written by Jonathan Foreman, Andy Dodd & Adam Watts
produced by Jonathan Foreman & Brian Malouf
additional production by Adam Watts & Andy Dodd
mixed by Brian Malouf
performed by Switchfoot
Courtesy of lowercase people records/Credential Recordings
|by Dan Goldwasser
on December 1st, 2008
The second film in the Narnia saga takes a decidedly different - and darker - tone than its predecessor. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian takes place in Narnia over 1,000 years after the events that took place in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, although only a year has gone by in our world. Now ruled by the human Telmarines, the creatures of Narnia have been pushed into the forest, and forgotten as legends and fairy tales. When the malevolent Miraz's (Sergio Castellitto) wife bears him a son and heir to the throne, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) suddenly finds his life in danger and escapes to the woods. Encountering two dwarves that he perceives to be hostile, he accidentally summons the four Pevensie children back to Narnia. Now the Pevensies, in an unfamiliar Narnia, try to figure out what is going on - and soon are allied with Caspian and the fugitive Narnians in a battle against Miraz and his armies to put Caspian rightfully on the throne. Prince Caspian is a much darker film than its predecessor, and it still contains the Christian allegories that author C.S. Lewis had imbedded within the narratives. The battle sequences are well done and better conveyed than in the first film, and director Andrew Adamson adds to the tension by making the danger palpable (there is much more violence in this one, with actual risk). Some of the magic is missing from the film, when compared with the first one, and it runs a little long - but it's still a solid chapter in the Narnia saga.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian will be released on home video in three flavors: a single disc DVD version, a three-disc "special edition" DVD, and a three-disc Blu-ray release. The first disc contains the feature film, which sports an excellent visual transfer. With the change in tone, the film has an appropriately darker look and feel to the cinematography. A night siege in the castle looks great, and the daylight battles similarly benefit from a naturally colorful image, with crisp blacks. Overall, an excellent image. The audio on the disc is also reference quality, presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1. The dynamic range is huge, and fully immersive. Harry Gregson-Williams' score sound great, coming from all channels, and the battle sequences throw you right into the heart of the action.
Supplements start out on the first disc with a feature-length commentary by director Andrew Adamson, actor Ben Barnes and the four "Pevensies" - Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, and Anna Popplewell. As with most actor-dominated commentaries, it can be hit or miss, but this is a light and lively track that covers most of what it's like for younger actors to be involved with such a huge production. It's also a major improvement compared to the original commentary track on the first Narnia film, so that's a plus. A major supplement is called "Circle-Vision Interactive: Creating the Castle Raid". Not only can you view the castle raid sequence with six different commentary tracks (director Andrew Adamson, producer Mark Johnson, stunt and fight coordinator Allan Poppleton, visual effects supervisor Dean Wright, special makeup & creatures artist Howard Berger, and costume designer Isis Mussenden), but you can also view different 360-degree panoramas of the castle raid set, with "trivia" points, and documentary nuggets. There are actually 35 different documentary snippets, which add up to a rather hearty supplement (it took well over an hour to watch them all from the handy index). Pretty much every aspect of the production and post-production are covered, from costumes, make-up, stunts, set construction, visual effects, editing, music, and much more. It's a great supplement!
The second disc contains the remainder of the extras. "Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns" (35-minutes) is a well rounded look at the challenges posed with making a sequel to the highly successful first film, especially the increase of stunts, special effects, and larger cast. "Sets of Narnia: A Classic Comes to Life" (24-minutes) looks at the various sets and locations that appear within the film, and what it took to bring them to the screen. "Big Movie Comes to a Small Town" (23-minutes) is a rather lively and at times humorous look at how a big Hollywood production invaded the tiny village of Bovec, Slovenia, and the impact that they had on the locals. "Previsualizing Narnia" (10-minutes) looks at the growing importance of the use of previz techniques and storyboards to help make films, and "Talking Animals and Walking Trees" (5-minutes) examines the important role of nature within the films (and novels), and how many of the film's creatures were brought to the screen.
There are "10 Deleted Scenes" (11-minutes), which are each preceded by an audio comment by Adamson explaining why they were cut. Most of them were redundant, but some of them provide a little more insight into the characters and their various relationships. A "Blooper Reel" (3-minutes) is goofy and light, but then we get back into the serious mode with "Secrets of the Duel" (7-minutes), which looks at the training and choreography work done for the climactic duel between Peter (William Moseley) and Miraz. "Becoming Trumpkin" (5-minutes) is a small look at the work of actor Peter Dinklage, who played a rather different type of dwarf, and "Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik" (11-minutes) takes us through a day-in-the-life of the well known actor, as he deals with lots of make-up, and the challenges of filming with people twice his size. Finally, the third disc contains a digital copy of the movie for use on your computer and portable electronic devices.
There are no trailers from the film, which is an odd omission, but overall this is a fine collection of material. With the "Circle-Vision" serving as a major highlight to the set of solid extras, and sporting reference quality image and audio, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is definitely worth adding to your home library.
|by Dan Goldwasser
on May 19th, 2008
Two and a half years after the highly successful film adaptation of C.S. Lewis's children's fantasy novel The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe comes the next chapter in the saga, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. It's over 1,000 years since the events of the last film. Narnia is a darker place now; the mystical creatures have all retreated into the woods, and become stories of legend and superstition. The Telmarines (a race of men) have taken over Narnia and the evil King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) rules with an iron fist - having dispatched of his brother and taken the throne, and removing any possible threats to his power. When his wife finally gives birth to a son, he sees no need to keep his nephew Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) around, and arranges to have him killed. But Caspian escapes into the woods, and with the help of Susan's magical horn (from the first film) calls back the "Kings and Queens of old", the four Pevensie children. Only a year has passed in our world since the last film, and the Pevensies are having a bit of a hard time being children again, with Peter constantly getting into fights. But they're whisked back to Narnia, and find that much has changed. With the help of some dwarves (considered evil in the first film) they eventually meet up with Caspian and the other Narnians and soon a battle for control of Narnia will take place so Prince Caspian can take his rightful place at the throne.
The film is definitely a step up from the previous one; director Andrew Adamson has learned from the mistakes of the previous film and delivers an entertaining and darker film. The Christian allegory returns, as young Lucy (Georgie Henley) keeps seeing Aslan, but no one else does - prompting a discussion about faith and "return". Certainly not subtle, but not proselytizing either. The first third of the film - especially with the children's return to Narnia - feels a bit cheesy at times and a little over-saccharine, but once everyone is firmly established, things start to move forward at a steady pace. A neat sequence involving Reepicheep the swashbuckling mouse (voiced by Eddie Izzard) and his troops of fellow rodents infiltrating the Miraz's castle is fun, and the battle sequences are definitely a step up from the previous film. While the film is rated PG, this is a violence-filled movie, with a rather high (but never graphic) body count. Unlike the first film, the children actually feel like they're in peril, which makes things a bit more exciting especially during a rather intense duel near the climax of the film.
The acting is alright but nothing spectacular - the kids are decent but still feel like they're trying a bit too hard, and the bad guys are all played by Italians and Mexican actors, and they all look (and sound) alike - even Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian) sounds like a young Antonio Banderas. The visual effects are markedly better, and the music by Harry Gregson-Williams brings back the familiar themes from the first film, along with some new ones. It's a darker score, effectively mirroring the overall tone of the film. Ultimately a coming-of-age story, Prince Caspian is a solid film that runs a tad too long (144-minutes!) and while some of the magic from the first film is gone, it's about a Narnia that has fallen into a dark time, and well worth checking out.
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