Many Narniacs were thrilled at the prospect of seeing Prince Caspian on the big screen this year. But many of us were less than thrilled at the result. To be fair, the movie was good for what it was – the special effects, fight scenes, and dramatic moments were all well-done. The problem lies in its faithfulness to the intentions and characterizations of Lewis himself.
I am a bit surprised to hear Lewis’ nephew, Douglas Gresham, saying things like, ‘this captures well the spirit of the book.’ After seeing it, my thought was, ‘Mmmm – not really!’ Aslan hardly makes an appearance and when he does, he hardly seems to be the figure we saw in the last film, let alone Lewis’ original works. The worst is Peter who is so out of character, so contrary to the noble young man of the book, that the film was at times a little painful to watch.
A good review that expresses well many of my own feelings about the movie (but in a better-written format) can be found over at the Reformation21 site by Shaun Nolan. Here is a good summarizing section of the review. Read the whole thing here.
It is a lesson learned early in this franchise. With the Harry Potter films, it took until their third installment to recognize that they didn’t need to make Hogwarts to everyone’s contentment. Prisoner of Azkaban was a considerably darker film, deeper and richer than its predecessors, yet, in so doing, it paid greater homage to the book it diverted from. Having sought to remain faithful to the book with Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Caspian‘s artistic departure makes for a fuller film than the first. However, it is a lesson only half learned. Adamson brings a welcome depth to the characters, but in so doing fails to honor Lewis’ own purpose for some of those same characters. Lucy is “a brick” as Peter calls her (that is, she alone remains steadfast). Edmund, in all his repentant glory, has fully cast aside the cloak of traitor and taken up the mantle of a king. All the talking beasts are just as they should be–complete with paw sucking bears and sword yielding mice. But Peter, Caspian, and Susan are worse for the wear.