Thursday, May 22, 2008

Chronic - What? - les of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Stacy and I took the girls to see the latest installment in The Chronicles of Narnia franchise, Prince Caspian, last night. We should probably preview these movies before we take the kids to them, but getting out alone to do that is nearly impossible, unless we really go out alone, leaving the other to watch the kids. Stacy is actually going to do that to see Iron Man. I told her that I loved her enough to watch the kids while she went off to watch an awesome movie without me. Actually, I think my exact words were, "If it's a choice between seeing the movie alone or not seeing it at all, then go to Iron Man alone." It's that good.

Wait, this isn't another Iron Man review. Let's get back to the prince. The reason I mentioned previewing movies for the girls is the sheer amount of violence in this movie. Don't get me wrong, it's rated PG, but if you watch closely, you can see why. There's little to no blood, no actual evidence of wounds caused by blade or horn, only one on-screen death. They were very savvy in shooting and editing this film to retain the PG rating.

Did that make it a bad movie? NO! It was a great movie. It was just violent. Keep in mind this is coming from a guy that had no problem taking his girls to Speed Racer, a movie filled with ninja fights, cars with deadly weapons, and general race track viciousness. I think the fantasy violence is a little more visceral than the Speed Racer fare. It just stood out to me.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe scribe/director, Andrew Adamson, returns to give us Prince Caspian. I didn't realize until looking him up that he also directed all three Shrek movies as well as penning the last two. With the consistent hand of someone familiar with the world of Narnia as well as six of the actors from the first, Adamson delivers his vision of the fantasy world exactly as before. The feel of Narnia and her denizens remained, which I think served the movie well.

In this tale, we are introduced to Prince Caspian, played by Ben Barnes. Caspian is the tenth in a long line of despotic rulers that invaded Narnia shortly after the Pevensies left at the end of the first story. Since time passes differently in Narnia, ten generations of these Telmarine invaders have lived and flourished in the space of one year for the Pevensie kids in the real world. Caspian's rule is threatened, however, by his power hungry uncle, Lord Miraz, played by Sergio Castellitto. Fleeing the castle on the night of the birth of Miraz's son, Caspian happens across true Narnians and in his fear summons the Kings and Queens of old, the Pevensies.

Here we are re-introduced to Peter (William Moseley), Susan(Anna Popplewell), Edmund(Skandar Keynes), and Lucy(Georgie Henley). In a move that would shock Hollywood executives all over California, the creators of Prince Caspian actually managed to get the actors back into recording while they still looked only a year older. I am the most disappointed in the Pevensies in this story than in any other in C.S. Lewis's series. I always thought the story of Prince Caspian showed us the Pevensies at their worst, but the movie really showcases their lack of nobility and grace that a lifetime as kings and queens in Narnia should have taught them. This is not a knock on the actors. They portray them exactly as they should be, I think.

The first thing we see of Peter is him brawling another schoolboy because he was treated like a child. We see Susan brush off a geeky boy by giving him a false name. We find later that Lucy, by postponing a very important task, may have caused much unnecessary harm. The only one that seems to have grown is Edmund, the worst of the lot from the first story. In this one, he comes to his brother's aid not once, but twice. He believes Lucy when no one else will, and generally shows more chivalry and wisdom than any of the others.

After being teleported back to Narnia, the children discover how long they have been away, first through some exploration on their own, and then through some exposition from my favorite Narnian dwarf, at least as of the viewing of this movie, Trumpkin. In the first stroke of genius casting in this movie, played by Peter Dinklage. For those of you too lazy to click on the link, he's the small actor du jour now. He's where Warwick Davis was about a decade ago in his career. Speaking of which, Mr. Davis plays the evil dwarf, Nikabrik. Interesting casting for Davis. I've not seen him play anything more threatening as a Nelwin before. He's good, but he's no Dinklage.

Trumpkin re-introduces the Pevensies to the world of Narnia as it is now. Eventually they meet up with Caspian and the meat of the story really begins. Through a clashes of steel and wills, the Pevensies, Caspian, Miraz, the Narnians, and the Telmarines struggle for control of Narnia. Where's my favorite character through all of this? Where's Aslan? No where to be found, unfortunately. Aslan doesn't make his true appearance until rather late in the movie. When he does though, it's pretty kickass. Voiced again by Liam Neeson, he as impressive and imposing as Aslan should be.

The only other character I feel worth noting is one that has been another of my favorites from the books, thankfully voiced by a favorite actor/comedian of mine, Reepicheep the mouse. Eddie Izzard brings him to life in Prince Caspian. While he serves as a worthy comic foil, he has an appeal of his own, I think.

All four Pevensie actors play their parts well. I was especially impressed with their stunt work. I am sad that we will not get to see Moseley and Popplewell reprise their roles again, as the next Narnia story features the younger two Pevensies and a new boy in Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I hope we will see a return of Keynes, Henley, Neeson, Izzard, Dinklage, and Barnes, preferably directed by Adamson.

I give The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian 15 out of 17 DLFs on a scale that I just made up that doesn't mean anything.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Doin' My Best to Stay Outta the Bathroom!

Being sick sucks. I came down with whatever stomach crud Vicki started with last week. So, rather than get some important work done and follow it up with a trip to the latest Narnia flick with my family Monday, I spent the day trying not to barf my guts up. I'm just getting to the point where I feel somewhat human and it's Tuesday afternoon. Looks like we won't be making it to Prince Caspian for another day or so. I'm hoping it will be before Friday night, because that night is reserved for...

bum ba da bum bum, bum ba da bum bum