Second time’s a charm

Magical Prince Caspian worlds better than its predecessor

GOTTA BE THE HAIR<br>Prince Caspian ready to slice and dice.

Prince Caspian ready to slice and dice.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Starring Ben Barnes, William Moseley and Sergio Castellitto. Directed by Andrew Adamson. Rated PG.
Rated 4.0

For anyone who’s been a child in the past 50 years or so, watching The Chronicles of Narnia is like opening a book into the past and re-entering C.S. Lewis’ magical land.

Prince Caspian is the second of seven in the series depicting Narnia, and it is considerably more violent than its predecessor, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And while it takes place in the same magical realm, Prince Caspian is more like our own world, seeing as those in power this time around are human.

I wasn’t impressed by the first entry in this series—the animation of Aslan, the lion from the title, was unnatural and distracting. Plus the acting, particularly by the girl who played the character of Lucy (Georgie Henley), was aggravatingly bad. They’ve upgraded since 2005—both the animation and acting.

This time around, the four siblings who first entered Narnia via a wardrobe in the first film—Lucy, Susan, Edmund and Peter—return to a place they know well but hardly recognize. That’s because since their last visit, the Telmarines (humans) have taken power from the Narnians.

Among the Telmarines lives Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), heir to the throne. His evil uncle, Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), looking like he came fresh from the cast of 300, however, wants the crown for himself. Their fight against each other parallels the foursome’s fight to return Narnia to its former glory.

Henley hasn’t earned her Oscar yet, but either her acting or the direction (by Andrew Adamson) has improved because her cute smiles and “why doesn’t anybody listen to me?” attitude are much less bothersome. The other actors are decent, with the easy standouts being William Moseley (Peter) and Castellitto, who play comparable roles of authority. For playing the titular character, Barnes isn’t particularly noteworthy, but neither is his character, who seems to step back to let the other men lead the way.

There’s quite a bit of violence for a PG-rated Disney film. Sword fights are drawn out and, while there is little blood, a beheading made me squirm in my seat next to a 6-year-old who grabbed onto her father’s arm during the battle scenes.

Fighting included, the story is everything one might expect from a fantasy film (or novel): There is good and evil; a possible romance; plenty of magic; and beautiful scenery. The film is long, but the story is so captivating that three hours go by quickly.

Unlike LOTR, The Chronicles of Narnia do not follow one storyline or even one set of characters throughout, making each entry distinctly different from the ones before it. With five novels left, and considering the improvement this film showed over the last, we have some very fine adventures ahead.