Review: Prince Caspian

It’s that wonderful time of year when all the summer movies that we missed start coming out on DVD. We had the choice of seeing Prince Caspian or Wall-E last night, and we chose Prince Caspian for Katherine’s sake. I know she’s going to love Wall-E, so we might as well wait until she can watch it with us, right?

The Bad

They took a LOT of liberties with the book. I read the books this last year, and I wondered how they were going to make Prince Caspian into a movie because, frankly, not much really happens in the book. So instead of making a short film that more closely resembled the book, they made this behemoth of an epic that, towards the end, had me wondering if I shouldn’t just go to bed. It was looooong. Really, really, really long.

For those who haven’t read the book, the additions probably won’t bother you. For those who have… expect a bumpy, and tiring, ride.

I also really disliked how they changed the nature of many of the characters. In the book, Caspian, Peter, and the others are all generally great friends with good relationships. The movie leaves each fighting their own personal battles and conflicts and arguing amongst themselves. Again, for those who haven’t read the book….

One change from the book that I did like, however, was they set up nicely some of Susan’s future problems. The books kind of blindside you with that later on, but the movie sets it up well and leaves me thinking that there are many, many more sequels in the works (not necessarily a good thing, not necessarily a bad thing).

The Good

I don’t know what it is, but I really don’t like either of the Chronicles films except for one character: Edmund. He was the only believable person in the first film, and this second film he was even better. He just was. I loved the interaction with King Miraz at the end in particular. Maybe I like him because he is the only one who seems to have any real depth or life to him.

Lucy was also a pleasant surprise. She’s grown up well since the last film and was much better and believable for it.

The last thing that I enjoyed, although I’m starting to find it annoying, was the incredible scenery and special effects. The River was amazing, and Aslan (who I thought looked fake in the first film) was absolutely stunning in this film. The thing I’m getting tired of, though, is that there seems to be this Lord of the Rings-ish quality to every shot as if the director was sitting back and saying, “Now let’s add a touch of LotR to that shot, and it’ll be perfect.” I mean really…. LotR was a great set of films with some incredible shots, but it was not the be all, end all of cinematography.

And if doubt the influence LotR has had on the filming of Prince Caspian, go back and watch the first scenes when Caspian is fleeing on horse back and then compare that to the part in the first LotR when Frodo and the Elf princess (I can’t remember her name for the life of me) are fleeing from the Ring Wraiths. You could almost superimpose the scenes on each other.

Almost.

My Rating

Oh boy…. This is a tough one. It was good on some levels, disappointing on others. And really, it all comes down to whether you have read the books or not. I guess it’s a split rating:

For those who haven’t read the books: 3 stars.

If you have read the books: 1.5 stars.

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6 Responses to Review: Prince Caspian

  1. Laura G says:

    I liked some of the tension, because even if it wasn’t really true to the book, it made sense: Peter’s the High King but doesn’t really have any idea what’s going on, and that’s going to bother both him *and* Caspian.

    I agree with you about both Susan and Edmund, but rather than going on about it, I’ll just link you to my review to read at your leisure (or not…)

    http://reviewingwhatever.blogspot.com/2008/06/prince-caspian_04.html

  2. daveloveless says:

    That’s true. I think you are right about what you said of Caspian in your review. It makes sense.

    I’m interested to see how Edmund plays out in future movies (both in and out of this particular series).

  3. Paul says:

    I love the Narnia books. This movie was not true to the books in the way that Jurassic Park wasn’t true to the books. However, when I go to see a movie based on a book, I generally expect to see just that: a movie based on a book, which I think Caspian did a pretty good job of being.

    I listened to Orson Scott Card talk about this in the oral epilogue that is at the end of the newer Ender’s Game audiobook, and what I heard from him totally changed my perception of movies made from books. Basically Card talks about the different conventions and methods of storytelling that exist in a novel versus in a movie. Card goe so far as to say that his own book, Ender’s Game would make a better movie if it were combined with Ender’s Shadow because together those stories make for a movie that better matches the storytelling conventions that work for movies. Then he talked about the Harry Potter movie adaptations (when he recorded the Epilogue, Prisoner of Askaban was the most recent movie to come out), and he talked about how Askaban had been the best Harry Potter movie of the lot, even though it was the least like the original source material.

    There is an art to writing a great novel, and another art to making a great movie. But they are two different arts, so you can expect that a great movie will be different from a great book.

    True, if you are a devoted fan of the original story, you can be sad to see the original story modified. However, when you see it from the perspective of storytelling conventions, you can see that adaptations are necessary (and good, in many cases) when a story moves from one genre to another.

    I highly recommend the Ender’s Game audiobook, and especially the author’s afterword, because Card says it a lot better than I can.

    My own view of Caspain is that it was a fun adaptation. It was kind of fun to not know exactly what was going to happen, and to wonder how they were going to resolve the story. There were some parts that were downright laughable, so I don’t think it was perfect, but I had an enjoyable time watching it, even though I love the source material.

    Out of 5 stars, I give it 3.5 to 4.

  4. Paul says:

    oops. Missed a closing tag up there. Too bad there is no preview. Oh well.

  5. Courtney Loveless says:

    I was less fond of Caspian. I don’t mind changes that make for a better story or changes that are necessary to make the source material fit into a movie, but the liberties taken with Caspian just didn’t seem to fit either of those to me. I missed some of the original parts of the story and was really hoping that they would at least stay more true to the book.

  6. nosurfgirl says:

    I liked it better than the first, which was a real dissappointment to me. My favorite narnia books are the Voyage of the Dawn Treader and the Silver Chair… so really, it all comes down to how well the next two are made, for me to decide if I like these movies or not.

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