The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Cast: Ben Barnes, Anna Popplewell
Direction: Andrew Adamson
If it’s summer, it must be another action-adventure sequel. Following the same special effects-laden formula established by its 2005 predecessor, the second installment of CS Lewis’ Narnia saga seeks to wallop the viewer into a state of mute acceptance.
In fact, we watch … Prince Caspian as if there were little point in questioning its convoluted, crepe-thin plot. Or lamenting the fact that the returning director Adamson as well as producers, Walden Media, couldn’t resist the temptation of making more mega-bucks. The first edition raked in an astonishing $ 750 million worldwide.
So we’re back with four siblings, who return to the magical realm of Narnia, only to discover that a millennium has zipped by. The kingdom is now ruled by a tyrant (Sergio Castellitto) who has usurped the throne from his nephew (Barnes).
It’s upto the swashbuckling quartet, then, to ensure that the young prince takes his rightful place as king. The virtuous lot is assisted by an array of courageous creatures including fauns, griffins, minotaurs, a big-hearted lion (imposingly voiced by Liam Neeson), not to forget a noble dwarf (Peter Dinklage, last seen to great comic effect in Death at a Funeral). A few moments of light relief are provided from all the chases and combats by a glib-talking mouse.
Director Adamson knows how to deliver a cluttered spectacle but can’t quite orchestrate all its elements for maximum impact. At over two hours, the narrative eventually touches the point of tedium. As for the crew of actors, they merely go through the paces mechanically.
Some wondrous vistas and a moderately exciting, albeit overextended, action climax aren’t enough to justify this disappointing follow-up. More alarmingly still, the re-play button has already been jabbed for the third chapter entitled Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Truly, when will Hollywood’s power-wielders understand that repetition doesn’t guarantee top quality entertainment?