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The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian(2008)
The characters of C.S. Lewis's timeless fantasy come to life once again in this newest installment of the "Chronicles of Narnia" series, in which the Pevensie siblings are magically transported back from England to the world of Narnia, where a thrilling, perilous new adventure awaits, battling alongside a new ally: Prince Caspian.
For more about The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and the The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Blu-ray release, see the The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on November 23, 2008 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Director: Andrew Adamson
Writers: Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Peter Seager, Mohammed Sobhy, C.S. Lewis
Starring: Tilda Swinton, Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell
» See full cast & crew
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Blu-ray Review
The latest installment of the 'Narnia' series makes for a reference-quality Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, November 23, 2008
You may find Narnia a more savage place than you remember.
Despite grossing nearly $142,000,000 during its early summer box-office run, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian failed to recoup its budget via domestic earnings. Perhaps even more amazing is that the film almost feels lost under the deluge of mega-hits that defined the 2008 summer movie going season. With films like Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Wall●E, and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull steamrolling the competition and lingering in theaters through most of the summer months, Prince Caspian seems almost like an afterthought. While not quite up to par with either the competition or its predecessor, Prince Caspian is nevertheless a quality film, one that bodes well for the continuation for the franchise, and proves that Andrew Adamson, returning once again as director, is perhaps one of the most gifted talents working in the film industry today.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian sees the return of the Pevensie children, Peter (William Moseley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Susan (Anna Popplewell), and Lucy (Georgie Henley) to the magical Kingdom of Narnia, some centuries after they returned to England through the wardrobe after their adventures as depicted in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. They find Narnia a vastly different place. Cair Paravel lies in ruins and the magical beings of the land seem gone. The children learn that Narnia has been overtaken by Telmarines, humans who once journeyed to Telmar through what is perhaps best described as a fissure between the worlds. The native Narnians have been driven to the brink of extinction, and so isolated and scarce are they that even the Telmarine heir to the throne, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), remains unaware of their existence. When Caspian's uncle Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), serving as "Lord Protector" of the empire after his brother's death, learns that his wife has birthed him a son, Caspian flees the kingdom and barely escapes an assassination attempt, his death ensuring Miraz and his line as the sole heirs to the throne. Upon his escape, Caspian signals for the ancient King and Queens of Narnia using Susan's long-lost magical horn just before being captured by native Narnians. Caspian convinces the Narnians that, unlike the other Telmarines, he wants to overthrow his uncle's iron-fisted rule. When he is finally joined by the Pevensie's, the heroes and all of the remaining Narnians set out to free themselves of the oppressive Telmarine rule once and for all.
The second installment of the big-budget filmed adaptation of C.S. Lewis's timeless series of novels, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian often feels bigger and better from a technical perspective in comparison to its predecessor, but not necessarily more meaningful or emotionally fulfilling. Prince Caspian is certainly a fine movie; it looks and sounds wonderful, features amazing action sequences, and is very well put together. The film sees the return of many of the primary cast and crew, ensuring seamless continuity, but there seems to be discernible absence of spirit and meaning underneath the glamour, spectacle, and technical marvel of the film when compared with the first. Whereas The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was built upon a spiritual foundation that brought meaning to the story and depth to its characters, Prince Caspian feels somewhat devoid of the moving emotional and magical under- and overtones that so defined the first film, though the film does offer a message on the importance of faith. Prince Caspian, however, generally succeeds in masking these shortcomings by creating what is oftentimes a tense, thrilling, action-packed adventure film with incredible fight choreography, mind-boggling special effects, and the addition of several new and likable characters. Still, the four primaries -- Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy -- don't seem to grow all that much as characters, their emotional underpinnings, particularly Peter's temper and Susan's first experience with love, feel tacked on rather than playing as natural progression to their characters. Nevertheless, Prince Caspian is more than worthy as a sequel, and while it feels different from the first film on an emotional level, it works very well as more of an action-packed adventure story that once again returns the magical realm of Narnia and a quartet of wonderfully written and acted characters back to the big screen.
For viewers hoping for a nearly faithful reproduction of novel to film, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian features several major plot contrivances that don't appear in the original C.S. Lewis tale, in addition to some glaring omissions. Whereas even the first film, though rather true to the source, featured some embellishments, several arguably necessary for the sake of cinematic spectacle, Prince Caspian introduces several sequences and character traits not found in the novel. The most obvious addition is the "castle raid" sequence featuring Peter, Edmund, Susan, Caspian, and a host of creatures attacking Miraz's castle in an unsuccessful effort to remove the burgeoning tyrant and restore Caspian to his rightful position as heir to the throne. Also introduced is a romance between Caspian and Susan, only hinted at several times until it becomes fully realized at film's end. Omitted from the film are several plot points, such as the description of the difficulties the Pevensies faced once they returned to Narnia, including both hunger and exhaustion, at one point stuffing their pockets with and contemplating the consumption of raw meat. Obviously, no novel-to-film adaptation is going to be perfect, and despite its omissions and additions, Prince Caspian remains an incredibly entertaining and engaging motion picture. The "castle raid" sequence, the subject of Disney's interactive Circle Vision feature found on the disc, is nothing short of an astounding visual sequence. Although a nighttime scene, bathed in dark corners and lit so as to de-emphasize much in the way of color, the action is stupendous, the breadth of the battle intense, and its stealthy origins nail-bitingly intense. Prince Caspian does flow very well from a cinematic perspective, true to the novel or not; the narrative is strong, the pacing is quick, and and the visuals are first-rate.
The strongest asset to this film is the return of director Andrew Adamson and the primary cast. Adamson's incredible vision of Narnia and his strong sense of location and penchant for breathtaking visuals play perhaps the most important factor in bringing Narnia to life. Although the two films see the contributions of different cinematographers, (Donald McAlpine on the first, Karl Walter Lindenlaub here), Adamson's talent as a filmmaker and creative imagination are clearly the overriding strengths that maintain the seamless continuity of the look of the films. Like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian features majestically-filmed and expertly choreographed battle sequences that are as intense and exciting as most any other in recent memory, but with practically no blood or gore. Prince Caspian represents family-friendly filmmaking at its finest. The film also features an abundance of seamless special effects; the final confrontation between Narnians and Telmarines is literally awash in perhaps the most incredible special effect in the Narnia series yet. Finally, the return of the four actors who portray the Pevensie children lends to the film a continuation of the strong, almost familial, bond between the actors. It is almost as if the actors never left the set between films, rather simply continuing on in-character, remaining as closely knit in life as the movie would lead viewers to believe.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian travels onto Blu-ray with a reference-grade 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. The level of detail as seen throughout the movie is extraordinary, noticeable from the very beginning of the film. The intricacies of the birthing room and the castle interiors in general are amazing, as is the fine detail on clothing. While the few London scenes in chapter two look marvelous, with the interior of the train station in particular looking real, worn, and well-used, it is when the children arrive in Narnia that the image begins to truly take form. Previous Narnia scenes depicting the birth of Miraz's son were bathed in a blue, dark light, with barely a hint of color, the same scheme that will light the "castle raid" sequence later in the movie. Peter, Edmund, Susan, and Lucy arrive on a Narnian beach that offers stunning depth. Once they ascend to the ruins of Cair Paravel atop the cliff, the greenery, the vistas overlooking the wondrous blue sea, the detail and intricacy of the stone ruins, and the visible and sharp depth of the sequence is breathtaking in its reproduction. Look at a scene on chapter eight as the children observe the construction of a bridge and hide behind a stack of logs. The scene looks great, but the tree trunks that serve as their cover exhibit exceptional visible detail. Other scenes, such as a nighttime campfire scene later in that same chapter, show such attention to detail that practically every blade of grass on the ground stands out as an individual and organic entity. Likewise, viewers can almost always make out the individual strands of hair atop character's heads, particularly Susan's and Lucy's long, dark, flowing hair. Like the previous Narnia film, this disc features excellent detail in the chain mail and armor worn by the film's combatants, particularly that of Peter and Miraz as seen during their duel in chapter 16. The disc's undeniable strength, however, is its fantastic color reproduction. Bright and bold but never too harsh or over-saturated, the colors are always pleasing, realistic, and accurate. Flesh tones appear to be spot-on as well. Grain is retained over the image, noticed particularly over the film's darker scenes. Black levels are nothing but rock-solid. Disney once again has a masterful, reference-quality transfer on their hands with Prince Caspian, and home theater owners looking for a bright, highly detailed, naturally-colored transfer to show off their 1080p displays need look no further for the perfect disc.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian makes its Blu-ray debut with a most impressive DTS-HD MA 7.1 lossless surround sound presentation. With rarely a dull moment to be heard, Prince Caspian offers listeners a robust, satisfying experience that is never too forceful or reserved, finding a happy medium that creates a practically seamless listening environment. Every speaker is put to great use throughout the movie. Arrows whoosh through the soundstage; the film's majestic score, again courtesy of Harry Gregson-Williams, spreads out effortlessly across the front with fine rear-channel support; ambient and environmental effects lend a sense of realism to the track. Bass rattles throughout the movie; hooves beat over stone walkways and across fields in chapter one, and the accompanying percussion section of the score pounds through with perfect clarity. Much of the soundtrack features a nonstop barrage of activity across the entire soundstage. The speeding train in chapter two that signals the return to Narnia sounds, and feels, as if it were passing through the listening area with incredible power. There are several scenes in the movie that feature sound design and reproduction so real that listeners may find themselves taken aback that it is part of the soundtrack, not something happening in their own room, the cracking of a branch in the back speakers that snaps Lucy from a dream in chapter eight serving as one example. The sounds of combat are also impeccably rendered here; the clanking of metal-on-metal, for example, during the duel between Miraz and Peter, is superb. Each blow reverberates throughout the soundstage and rumbles the gut with each forceful impact. An attack by catapult signaling the beginning of a major confrontation between Telmarines and Narnians in chapter 17 is nothing short of an awesome experience as each impact reverberates with almost frightening, Earth-shaking power. Dialogue is also reproduced with reference-quality precision. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian offers nothing short of a first-rate soundtrack.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian arrives on Blu-ray with a plethora of bonus materials, all of which are presented in high definition and spread across two discs. A feature-length commentary track featuring director Andrew Adamson and actors Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, and Anna Popplewell serves as the cornerstone of this supplemental package. Like the cast track as heard on the Blu-ray release of the first Narnia film, this track is light and lively, mixing serious insights and observations with plenty of lighthearted bantering between the participants. Definitely one for the fans, the track moves by rather quickly despite a few moments of dead air, not to mention the film's 150 minute runtime. Circle-Vision Interactive: Creating the Castle Raid, presented in 1080p, begins with a brief (2:01) introduction to the hard work that went into the creation of this crucial sequence. Through this unique feature, users will be able to witness the production of this sequence using Blu-ray's powerful interactivity and High Dynamic Range Imaging, or HDRI, the same technology that the production team utilized to create this sequence. Many of the options include behind-the-scenes footage and interview clips while users navigate around the entire 360-degree set. Also included is a Disney Blu-ray promotional piece (1080p, 0:55), an advertisement for Disney Movie Rewards (1080p, 0:20), and 1080p trailers for Pinocchio (1:27) and Earth (2:06). Finally, this disc is BD-Live (Blu-ray profile 2.0) enabled, allowing users to access "a community suite of online content that enhances your movie-viewing experience." The BD-Live network page for this film was unavailable at time of writing.
Disc two of the set contains Behind the Magic, a series of in-depth features that recount various processes in the making of the film. Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns (1080p, 34:45) is a solid, multi-layered feature that begins with director Andrew Adamson discussing his search for a theme to tie the film together and his reasons for choosing to direct another film in the series. Also examined is the scope of the production, the hardships of the shoot, the film's challenging shooting locations, the multi-national makeup of the cast, the strengths director Andrew Adamson brought to the production, the integration of special effects into the film, and more. The feature is intercut with plenty of cast and crew interviews, along with a wealth of behind-the-scenes footage. Sets of Narnia: A Classic Comes to Life (1080p, 23:44) presents viewers with a look at the challenges of creating the look for Narnia, and Prince Caspian in particular. As C.S. Lewis's stories often left much to the imagination, it was up to the filmmakers to find just the right shooting locations, build the perfect sets, and fashion the right props to bring this imaginative world to life. Each new segment of the feature is introduced by a reading of the appropriate passage in the novel which sets the stage nicely for appreciating the work that went into creating all of the film's major set pieces.
Next is Big Movie Comes to a Small Town (1080p, 23:19). The piece begins with a series of local residents describing the beautiful town they call home, enthusiastically recounting all of its natural beauties. Filming in the small Slovenian town of Bovec, this feature offers a fascinating look at what happens when a major Hollywood production arrives in a sleepy European town. The piece looks at the construction of a bridge, the creation of a base camp, movie set versus mother nature, the town's history, and more. Previsualizing Narnia (1080p, 10:09) looks at the film's extensive use of the technology that brings the movie to life before the actual shoot, described as an "evolved" version of storyboards. Talking Animals and Walking Trees: The Magical World of Narnia (1080p, 4:51) features a look at the people and techniques that brought the film's creatures to life, and the role of nature in the film. Ten deleted scenes (1080p, 11:15) with an introduction from director Andrew Adamson, are next. The Bloopers of Narnia (1080p, 3:06) showcases the lighter side of the production. Secrets of the Duel (1080p, 6:46) takes viewers behind-the-scenes of the making of this pivotal sequence. Becoming Trumpkin (1080p, 4:48) is a short feature that looks at the casting and contributions of actor Peter Dinklage. Finally, Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik (1080p, 11:08) features interview clips and a series of behind-the-scenes footage of the actor's experiences on the set.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian makes for a fine sequel to one of the best films of the past decade. Continuing in the traditions of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian sees the return of the primary cast and crew, making for a seamless transition between films. While this film lacks many of the spiritual undertones of the first film (though Caspian does feature a look at the importance of faith), it is certainly bigger and bolder, more glamorous and action-packed. Anyone looking for a fairly straight retelling of the Lewis novel may be somewhat disappointed. Still, Prince Caspian delivers a strong sequel to an amazing film, following up the story well and continuing the budding legacy of the Narnia novels brought to life. Director Andrew Adamson is perhaps the series' greatest asset. His vision is extraordinary; his directorial style, particularly in these grandiose Narnia movies, is nothing short of awe-inspiring; and his passion for the stories and the filmmaking process, as evidenced by his enthusiastic and intelligent contributions to the supplemental sections of this and the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe release, seems almost unparalleled. Unfortunately, Adamson will not be returning to helm the third film; no doubt he will be missed as director of The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treador'. Nevertheless, he leaves the series in capable hands, and the promised return of several characters -- including Prince Caspian, Edmund, and Lucy -- lend hope that Dawn Treador will again do the series proud. Disney's Blu-ray release of Prince Caspian is, as expected, a first-rate presentation. The film looks and sounds spectacular, and the studio has included a most impressive array of bonus materials, all presented in high definition. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian comes highly recommended.
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