“I was hoping for something more original.” – Reepicheep, Knight of Narnia
Prince Caspian is perhaps my favorite of the C.S. Lewis Narnia books for two reasons; firstly it introduces the grandest of Narnian warriors, the mouse Reepicheep; secondly the 1989 BBC TV version was filmed in the forest not far from where we lived at the time, and we used to visit the sets on a regular basis.
So the latest movie version had a lot to live up to beyond just matching the spectacle of its 2005 predecessor, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
Unfortunately it falls short of all these goals. The reason for the shortcoming is explained by the director himself, Andrew Adamson, in the first line of the many featurettes on this DVD release. Adamson states "The main problem with this movie was finding the center of the movie.” And he’s right, the movie has no real soul.
Some of this is inherent in the story itself. Part of the magic of Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is that once they arrive in Narnia the four lead children are the only humans, and we discover the magical world around them through their eyes, particularly those of the youngest, Lucy.
Prince Caspian on the other hand is dominated by humans, and as such it loses that sense of magic. It also means that there is no longer any empathic point-of-view character to guide the audience through the narrative.
The filmmakers compounded this problem by adding layers of humanity and back story that weren’t in the book, at the further expense of what makes Narnia special.
The other problem, again acknowledged in the accompanying documentaries, is that Prince Caspian is too like The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, down to the choreography of the climatic battles scenes being almost identical. The movie never instills the sense of wonder needed to make it stand out, and leaves you with a feeling that while some of the characters may be new, you’ve seen it all before.
The DVD release includes three discs, the movie itself, with all the special features on a separate second disc. The third disc follows the recent trend of supplying a "digital file" copy for viewing on a computer or iPhone.
The Special Features DVD is loaded with a couple of hours of material, but it’s all standard stuff: bloopers, deleted scenes, and a series of featurettes about the making of the movie: previsualization, fight choreography, sets, special effects, etc.
In short a reasonably packaged DVD collection, but nothing special.
As a total aside, does anyone else find it slightly strange that a movie series whose central themes are determined by the actions of "the sons of Adam" is directed by a guy named Adamson?