DVD review: More is less for ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’

Some of the greatest movies ever made ran two hours or less. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian runs 2 1/2 hours — and it’s not one of the greatest movies ever made.

In fact, that’s due in part to the fact that it runs so long. Read what you will into C.S. Lewis’ mythology and its religious undercurrents, but this film is basically a fantasy-adventure at heart, and it’s tough to maintain the kind of soaring spirits to which Prince Caspian aspires for 150 minutes.

Instead, we’re too often left with action for the sake of action, and dialogue by charm-challenged lead players who look like Hogwarts wannabes, including Anna Popplewell, who seems to have been hired more for her gratingly cliched bee-stung lips (well, if they’re good enough for Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, etc.) than her acting chops. If movies know how to do one thing, it’s to exact a tyrannical standard of alleged beauty — and beat it to death.

The CG effects are masterful, and the film has a decided polish and sheen, but otherwise it’s an epic only in terms of pretensions, budget — and length. Face it: The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter carved out and cornered this market in recent years, and no matter how hard their competitors try, they too often feel more recycled than inspired.

On the upside, Prince Caspian does offer some diverting extras on its second DVD disc, including an 11-minute on-set visit with good ol’ Warwick Davis and three minutes of amusing bloopers, one of which shows little Georgie Henley, in a Potter-echoing opening scene, telling her cohorts, “You’ve gotta come quick — ly!”

Bless her heart, she knew she’d blown the line by failing to supply the proper adverb in the script — not that many people use adverbs anymore. But on set that gets a laugh, as do many pranks and pratfalls. This long and lumbering movie may have lacked levity, but its shoot, clearly, did not.

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2 Responses to “DVD review: More is less for ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’”

  1. Mary Fagan Says:

    O. K. That does it. I’m keeping the DVD Prince Caspian and giving my granddaughters something else! I love a long movie. I want as much of the book as they can cram into it!

  2. farsider Says:

    Well then, Mary, I hope this film is enough for you as a fan of the book, and that you enjoy every minute of it. For me, a movie is a far different experience from a book and has its own advantages and limitations. By necessity, films must be a form of narrative shorthand compared to books, so some truncation is inevitable. Viewing this film as its own entity — and separate from Lewis’ work — I think it runs too long. But that’s just me. I hope you enjoy it.

    — Farsider (Bruce Westbrook)

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