Friday, May 16, 2008

Review: Prince Caspian

Let me preface this review with a bit about my position on Narnia. I've been a raving fan of the books since I was 6 years old and mom read the first half of the Magician's Nephew, and I've since read the rest of the series at least 7 times. I capped Prince Caspian off again for the 9th time Wednesday night, and it is certainly my favorite book.

I realize The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe has some very strong allegorical elements to Christ, but I think the rest of the series steers pretty clear of that, so I'm not into using this as a witnessing tool or anything, it's just wonderful fantasy for children.

I went to a midnight showing for Prince Caspian last night, with a pretty large contingent of night owls.
First, after being scared out of my mind by a trailer for Chiauaua (how the west has fallen...), the movie began.

It begins well enough, but quickly diverts from the book for no real reason, in several key places that alters the story.
King Peter is an arrogant jerk obsessed with power. Caspian is a whiny kid at times, yet manages to hold his own on the screen. Trumpkin the Dwarf is spot on, and Reepicheep is just as annoying as he was in the books.
Aslan though... could they make the Lion of Narnia any more of a wimp???

I am bitter about this movie, and disappointed. In the LWW, the book was followed about 90% of the time. I'd say this was about 60%, and it was stuff that didn't need changing.
Especially the final 3 minutes...


FAICA Soldier said...

Jeff Anderson, at Cinematical, manages to capture every feeling and fear I have going into this film. He first hits on my greatest fear saying, "It's a dead dog dull bore of a movie, but that won't stop it from making a fortune." Maybe then goes on to explain exactly how I have felt about Adamson and the Hollywood system. Perhaps the first sentence won't apply to you but I fear it will to a great many.

"The fans of C.S. Lewis books will no doubt be able to mentally fill in the film's dead spots and trick themselves into enjoying it, but this is not much of a film. Director Adamson was not hired to give it a personal vision, but rather to make it as closely as possible to The Lord of the Rings. His last outing, the first two Shrek films, called on him to copy the Pixar formula, and each time he has proved an artistic flop, but a financial bonanza. He is exactly what Hollywood loves to bet its money on; he's safe, and that's exactly what brings out the worst in movies. There's a running joke in Prince Caspian: every time Reepicheep attacks, his potential victim responds the same: "you're a mouse!" The last time this happens, Reepicheep sighs wearily and responds, "You people have no imagination!" I couldn't think of a better description for the makers of these films."

Daniel said...

I saw the film last night and was disappointed as well, for pretty much the same reasons you mentioned. And what ever happened to ‘battles are ugly when women fight’? That kind of archery is much more believable from someone like Legolas than Susan. The Caspian/Susan kiss at the end was the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. The reason I liked the LOTR so much was because they were well done movies that stayed amazingly true to the books. The LWW wasn’t quite as true to the book but still stayed fairly close. Personally I’m not sure that that this one stayed even 60% true to the book. And I agree with you, this film did seem to be a LOTR wannabe. I will not be spending money to go see it again.

Daniel said...

Just watched that trailer that you mentioned. You’re right, that WAS scary.

FAICA Soldier said...

Scarier still is how much profit Beverly Hills Chihuahua will make. At least it doesn't have much hope of the big international money. I would love to blame the talentless, soulless filmmakers, but they wouldn't have a job if people didn't spend their money on it. When you make an art form financially reasonable for the public, the form will degrade until our only choices will be watching "America's Next Top Flight Attendant" on TV or going out to rent "Titanic 2: Under Sea Adventure". I should really get the rights to those before I post...

Jeana said...

GREAT...Ace will never watch it now. It made him mad enough that there was kissing in LotR, but I doubt he will forgive them for messing with Lewis. I doubt that I will forgive them.

Palm boy said...

FAICA, it doesn't apply to me, but I believe it will apply to many, many fans, particularly those that have only fond memories of the books as a a child, but no recent reading of the series.

Daniel, I agree on pretty much every count. I was really, really annoyed when she was in the general Melee of the battle, beating grown men in armor with a bow utilized as a quarterstaff.
Haha, glad you enjoyed the trailer. :D

Jeana, sorry about that. Blame Andrew Adamson for that. :D

Solameanie said...

I haven't seen the film yet, so can't comment on that directly. One thing I found irritating was the way the bunch from that coalition for the separation of church and state started bellyaching about the "hidden Christian messages." Excuse me? Why is this group even commenting on the film? It wasn't made by the government.

More affirmation to me that these clowns really aren't all that jazzed about the separation of church and state. They're more jazzed by hatred of Christianity.

Also, I do know that C.S. Lewis' stepson, Doug Gresham, has been watching over the productions of these films. I am surprised that the film deviates so much from the book. There's always a problem with filming books -- you can't get everything in there even if you try. But at least stay true to the main story line and the spirit of the book. If they've blown it that badly, it's sad.

Daweed said...

Who's idea was it to have the actor for Caspian have SUCH AN ANNOYING VOICE??

but seriously they ruined the movie for me at the moment they attacked the castle.... WHY WHY WHY would you hinge half your movie on a scene that NEVER happened in the book.
And really a romance between caspian and susan. Just plain stupid, the akwardness abounded in the theater when they kissed. seriously try to stick to the story better next time.

((His last outing, the first two Shrek films, called on him to copy the Pixar formula, and each time he has proved an artistic flop, but a financial bonanza.))

I don't get that, the Shrek films were funny and if you want to bash the artistic features of a film then watch HOODWINKED and try not to laugh.

Palm boy said...

Joel, I hadn't heard about the separation of Church & State crowd getting upset, but it's not surprising.
That in itself is a problem, I suppose.

I don't expect exact replica's of the book on screen, and I was pretty pleased with LLW, but this was terrible.

David, he was supposed to be some sort of spanish aristocracy.
Those two events are also the most irritating to me, as well as the time shifting of the horn blowing.

Hoodwinked, there's a funny movie.

BCBCFriend said...

If I think of the film as an adaption of the Prince Caspian book, I am disappointed, especially by the aforementioned reasons. If, however, I think of the Prince Caspian book by Lewis as a springboard for the movie, and consider how Lewis evolved in the way he wrote (especially about women) later on in his life, I can enjoy the film as an interpretive work.

Think of Pablo Picasso, or other "interpretive" artists. A film is basically 90% entertainment, with about 10% available as a cultural statement IMHO. The exaggerations (and added details) Adamson used to convey the core message of faith rediscovered in Prince Caspian were excusable if you believe in a world where artistic license, or freedom is granted to interpret.

I agree the romantic thing between Susan and Caspian was a bit distracting, but nonetheless believable (a strong willed pretty dark-haired woman, an unmarried young handsome spanish warrior). It would have been interesting to be at one of the Inklings meetings and talk about some reasons for developing this aspect of the book, but I think that Tolkein, Lewis, Williams and friends might have recommended that this sort of thing be relegated to the romance novels of the day. Oh wait, isn't that what the popular media and those who hold the purse strings see as a financially viable business plan with today's movie-goers?

Solameanie said...

Robert, I forgot to give you a friendly caution. You say you are "bitter" about this film. Be very careful, or Barack Obama will include you in his list of people who are bitter and cling to their guns and their faith.

:D said...

Aww, it wasn't that bad.

The producer doesn't have a moral obligation to follow the book precicely, espically considering that he had the grandson's approvel.

If people started to make movies for simple excellence or whatever you would like to call it, they would soon go out of buisness because they weren't catering to "the masses". I believe you would agree with me that profit comes first in any quasi-free or free market system.

Well, that's my rant for the last three months. You probably already agreed with my post and were just voicing you own privite opinion about the movie. I was personally rather disapointed with both the ridiculous catapults and when Susan threw an arrow with her bare hands and it stuck six inches into a guy, but I'm sure the little kids (and probable quite a few adults) loved it.

P.S. I believe its now "been a while" for you too.

All-American Girl said...

Daweed, i have to agree with you on the voice, not to mention the whole actor, Ben Barnes was absolutely the WRONG choice for Caspian. I personally may not even read the book again, they pretty much ruined any enjoyment i had for it. Plus where on earth did they find any reason to have a Susan/Caspian romance?? It was indeed the straw that broke the camels back.

Palm boy said...

BCBC Friend, I'm still not convinced the ideals or theme of Caspian the book were carried over into the movie. Peter is nothing similar to his movie portrayal, neither is the lioness Aslan. I appreciate a good piece of interpretation, an excellent example being that of the bombing run in the LWW.

Joel, I'm loading my .12 gauge as I type. :D

Shadows, It has now been a really long while...
I think you've hit the nail on the head, the mass market appeal of having Susan kiss Caspy is far to large profit wise to skip out on.
The Catapults were very ridiculous.

American, thanks for dropping in. :D

Steve said...

First, it was a film based on the story by C.S. Lewis, not a film by C.S. Lewis. I loved it, particularly the overriding message of faith as the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

They took a little artistic license, and we really could have done without the blink-and-you-miss-it romance, but overall it was a great effort. Better even than LoTR

Douglas Gresham (Lewis' stepson) produced it, and felt that it was faithful to the story, and even more, faithful to the underlying theme of the story and the series:

I'm very, very pleased. It's a film that portrays probably even more strongly than the book the essential message of Prince Caspian, which is a return to truth and faith and honor and justice after a millennium of corruption in Narnia. I almost hate to say it, but I think it's a better movie than The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Prince Caspian started with a poorer story than Lion/Witch, but has worked out probably to be a better movie.

I agree with Gresham, and give it two thumbs, way up.

FAICA Soldier said...

I don't really see a problem with the differences from the book. I also don't understand all of this talk of romance. A peck of a kiss goodbye to someone you will never see again hardly constitutes a love affair. My issues with this film are that if you look at the writing, acting, cinematography, special effects, lighting, editing, pacing of the film, it is truly awful. I see about 100 movies a year and I can only think of a few that have been as painful to watch as this. As far as morals go the film decides that truth and trust are of no consequence and I could find no moral fiber anywhere in this film. People fought and acted out of pride and faith played almost no role. It wasn't until it was obvious that none of them had any faith that Lucy finally went to find Aslan and he ended the battle.

Every decision about making this film was "safe" and therefore extraordinarily boring. At least we can be thankful that Adamson is not directing Dawn Treador but they will try to keep the look the same which is a major mistake. I can only hope that they are unable or unwilling to get the rights to make the other 4 films (currently they only have permission to make these three).

Steve said...

I can only hope that they are unable or unwilling to get the rights to make the other 4 films (currently they only have permission to make these three).

Since Gresham is the producer and owns the rights to the entire series, it's a pretty good bet we'll see more.

FAICA Soldier said...

He is only listed as a producer because he owns the film rights. I suppose it is reasonable to suggest that he has been unwilling to sell the remaining rights because he is holding out for more money. Lord knows he hasn't been holding out for quality.

Guitarman said...

I loved this movie. Sure we spent the 1st 10 minutes after doing damage control from deviations from the book. This movie had excellent separation from good and evil (unlike Pirates @ worlds end). Excellent faces and strong characters. Beautiful to watch. Engaging if not predictable story. Why oh why though do they focus so much on the battle scenes. I mean how different ways can you kill a person with a sword? If you have chance read my reivew....I'd be honored.