Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Prince Caspian

Well, only a year late, I finally got around to seeing Prince Caspian. I have to say, I'm not massively impressed. Admittedly, the book is probably one of the more difficult ones to translate to film (The Last Battle would probably be the most difficult, considering that big You Did Not Just Go There moment at the end), both because of its massive timeskip and the somewhat jarring change in tone between Lion Witch and it. But . . . yeah. Even with those strikes against it, the right director can still manage to make a movie that's even more out of place.

Here's how:

1. The movie runs two and a half hours. Just so we're all clear here, that's half an hour less than the running time of any single Lord of the Rings movie, from a book that's about a quarter the length of any given Lord of the Rings volume. That's a lot of scene padding.

2. Despite the padding, a large portion of the exposition -- namely the stargazing scene at the beginning of Caspian's story -- was cut entirely. Not only did this deprive the film of one of the coolest and most well-written scenes of the book, but it meant that the characters had to stop the plot several times to fill in the exposition to each other later.

3. Ben Barnes is certainly a looker, but he's also about ten years too old to be playing the part of Caspian. The whole point of Prince Caspian is that he's a kid. Ben Barnes is an adult, and really looks like he ought to be leading the rebellion against Miraz on his own merits.

4. While ripping off The Lord of The Rings in half the scenes was a solid start, the bits that ripped off The Princess Bride and Cold Mountain were also a hoot and a half. Though I do have to give props for being daring enough to rip off the battle of Petersburg. In salute to that particular bit of chutzpah, I gave a ceremonial yell of "It's a turkey shoot, boys!" and sang a rousing verse or two of "Idumea."

5. Aslan does not come off well in this movie. I'm just saying. He put me in mind of a line from Love and Death: "Well, if God is testing us, why doesn't He give us a written?"

6. Georgie Henley once again manages to capture the finest nuances of Lucy Pevensie's self-righteousness while avoiding all of Lucy's charm.

7. Digital photography is good for many things, but detailed fight scenes are not among them.

Not to be entirely negative, there were some things done well:

1. I continue to heart Skandar Keynes. Despite being criminally underused, he still manages to demonstrate that Edmund is the brains of the Pevensie operation.

2. On a related note, Anna Popplewell's Susan has definitely taken a level in badass. She comes off very well here, brave and loyal to her siblings if not immediately to Aslan. Though you can definitely see that puberty has arrived, aging her out of Narnia and (because Lewis has real issues with women) out of the whole rest of the story. Farewell, Anna Popplewell, we hardly knew ye.

3. I loved the design of Aslan's How. It had just the right combination of age, solidity, mystery, and that complete lack of relationship to the rest of the landscape that signals that this hill is manmade for an Important Purpose.

4. The Talking Beasts came off very well. Nice CGI work, especially on the Minotaurs.

I am kind of intrigued to see what will happen with Voyage of the Dawn Treader. That was always my favorite book in the series, mostly because I liked the adventure, and because all the proseletyzing was concentrated at the end and could easily be skipped. I suspect that it will be an easier book to film, too. It gives Skandar Keynes a more prominent role, there's room for all the big effects that Andrew Adamson likes to put in these movies, and Caspian is a little older, so Ben Barnes won't seem quite so out of place.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 20th, 2009 12:18 pm (UTC)
I was constantly ripped out of the movie by oddly-placed (to me, not being a Lewis fan to begin with) Disney Moments. The comic-relief talking mouse juxtaposed with the massacre of all the good guys really did not work for me.

In fact, the comic-relief talking mouse did not work, period.

But then, I never was into talking animals even as a kid.

The other thing that really bugged me and again this is more a criticism of the source material, was the realization that there's this world filled with talking animals and fantasy creatures and Little People, but they can't figure out how to rule themselves, for that we have to import humans from another dimension. And when the wrong humans take over, the locals are utterly helpless to do anything about it until a bunch of human children from another dimension come back and tell them what to do. In the thousand years the kings and queens have been gone they couldn't figure out how to govern themselves or to organize a rebellion?
Jun. 20th, 2009 12:33 pm (UTC)
Oh, right, the character butchery of Reepicheep! I think I had blocked that from my mind when I wrote this. Reepicheep is far from being comic relief -- in fact, I think his big endearing canon flaw is precisely that he has no sense of humor.

The thing that I was really thinking of with the phrase "the Talking Beasts came off very well" was the animation. There were a lot of "your CGI is showing" moments in Prince Caspian, but the Talking Beasts had some good animators working on them. They looked about as realistic as giant talking animals are ever going to look.

this world filled with talking animals and fantasy creatures and Little People, but they can't figure out how to rule themselves

I guess opposable thumbs really are all they're cracked up to be. Either that or the Talking Beasts aren't real bright, the Dwarves don't give a shit (considering the way they get treated in The Last Battle, who can blame them?), and the Centaurs are either too stuck up or too aware of how ridiculous they look when they move to care much about anyone else.

I do have a lot of problems with the source material, which is why I never loved the Narnia books nearly as much as Tolkien, and this is probably one reason that it's harder for me to warm up to these movies. That, and the fact that I was once assistant director and sound designer for a summer theater version of Lion Witch that completely blew the movie's socks off, even starting with the handicap of having to be performed on a set designed for South Pacific that featured a gigantic bright turquoise floor. All that, and we still had a better show.
Jun. 20th, 2009 04:21 pm (UTC)
Gotta disagree with you on number three of the negative side. I was annoyed with Caspian's age at first, too. But upon a re-read of the book I found that it actually said right in the text that he was about Peter's age. It made me reexamine the character a little bit and I'm now of the opinion that Caspian comes off as a lot younger because Miraz has kept him so insulated from what's really going on in the world.

I think a lot of people have a tendency to recall the BBC Narnia series and take that as the gospel truth. But in that series, all the kids were quite a bit younger than they are in the Disney movies. But the Disney movies also aren't filmed one right after another and those kids are at the holycrapslowdowntheagingmachineIwannagetoff age range where taking a year off causes aging problems. The Harry Potter movies have the same issue. So, while everyone started out the right age, they quickly grew up a little too quickly. There's not much that can be done about that but to have Caspian keep pace.

It'll be interesting to see what they do about Eustace and Jill...
Jun. 20th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
I don't think I ever saw much of the BBC Narnia series, so I don't know what they did with the kids in that. I vaguely remember the video boxes at the library showing a quartet of rather unattractive children, but I never checked them out.

I would have been fine with Ben Barnes if he had actually been able to play "about Peter's age." The problem I had is that William Mosely, who was about 20 at the time of filming, was able to play Peter convincingly as about 14 or 15. But Ben Barnes was 27, and was just too old to play anything like a boy of Peter's age. Physically, he's past the age where boys really fill out in the shoulders and chest (which tends to be around 20 or 21), he moves like a grown man, and he's dark enough that, even shaving three times a day, any shred of five o' clock shadow shows up instantly. "About Peter's age" is fine, since Peter is still a kid. But Ben Barnes isn't, and he isn't one of those actors who can play ten years younger.

He will be the right age to play young King Caspian in Dawn Treader next year, though.
Jun. 21st, 2009 03:21 am (UTC)
I haven't seen the film yet either, and your review isn't likely to make me fix that omission any time soon. Still, I suppose I will see this eventually.

Are they definitely doing Voyage of the Dawn Treader?
Jun. 21st, 2009 03:44 am (UTC)
Dawn Treader is in pre-production, and looks to be released December of 2010.
Jun. 27th, 2009 12:07 am (UTC)
Just catching up with LJ...I guess the fact that I barely even remember this movie (though I did see it in the theaters) is a sign that it wasn't greatly impressive. I never read the book, but I do vaguely remember liking the movie well enough to not think I wasted my money, but not being too impressed either. Your critique, as always, is hilarious. You should consider being a reviewer (of anything) on the side. I bet you'd be famous in short order.
Jun. 27th, 2009 01:08 pm (UTC)
Well, if you can find someone willing to pay for my movie tickets and then pay me to write snarky reviews, I'm all yours.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


by Illsaysheis

Latest Month

July 2015
Powered by LiveJournal.com
Designed by Tiffany Chow