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</script></div>{/googleAds}The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian director, co-writer Andrew Adamson avoids the usual deadly trappings that befall most big-budget, CGI-enhanced follow-ups, by concentrating the film on what endeared the original to a legion of fans worldwide. Rather than overwhelming the experience with whiz-bang spectacle and over-the-top special effects, Adamson (who also directed the first adaptation of the beloved series of literary classics by C.S. Lewis) manages to create a perfect blend of modern-day technological wizardry and good old-fashioned storytelling. He knows the heart of the story lies in the Pevensie children, so he artfully reflects Lewis' imaginative storytelling by employing visual effects only as enhancement to the experience, never overpowering us with pomp. But even though the people parts of the story take center stage, there are still plenty of fantastic talking creatures, mystical lore and dangerous battlefield action to satisfy the action/fantasy lovers as well.

Prince CaspianI guess 1 people-year equals 1300 Narnia-years, because that's how long it has been since the now year older Pevensie children ruled Narnia. Brothers Peter (William Moseley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and sisters Susan (Anna Popplewell) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) hardly recognize the place after they are suddenly summoned back to the mystical land by a blast of a magic horn. Seems they're being called upon to defend their old domain from the rule of King Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) and the Telmarines, whose tyranny has forced the friendly Narnians to near extinction. Miraz also wants to kill the rightful heir to the throne, Caspian (Ben Barnes), and replace him with his own newborn son. But our heroes will have none of that!

All of the young actors return, but this time they're called upon to provide a much more substantial presence. In the previous installment, we bought into their young, wide-eyed wonder and amazement as they discovered the world beyond the magic wardrobe. Here they're asked to prove their mettle with beefier action sequences that show us a bit of the darker side to their personalities. Peter must prove he's becoming a young man and Moseley handles the complexities of ego-tripping quite nicely against the threat to his manhood by Barnes' Caspian. Popplewell is credible in her boosted action sequences - not quite a Legolas Greenleaf with a bow and arrow just yet, but quite handy all the same. Edmund is always looking out for his older brother Peter, and Keynes always rises to the challenge effectively, even showing some great comedic timing in a couple of scenes. But the most welcomed change comes from Henley's Lucy who was pretty much the sweet little baby sister in the first film. Here she's thrust into the role of true heroine and gets considerably more action time. She even shows us she's quite handy on a horse and with a dagger.

The same themes of hope, honor, belief, and charity that so richly enhanced the first film are omnipresent in this one as well. And of course when you get down to it, these literary themes and their allegorical manifestations are what ultimately sold Lewis' novels and, likewise, provide the persuasion here. Adamson appropriately plays down the Christian elements, but probably too much has been made of these anyway. Aslan does reappear in this chapter, but even though he's always backlit with a heavenly glow, his messianic import never seems quite as apparent this time around.

The kiddos are sure to get a bit restless as the film runs a tad long. But then again, it's difficult to zero-in on where they might have cut it down. It also pushes the bounds of its PG rating as some of the battle sequences become quite intense. They're never gory or gruesome but there is plenty of death and destruction and parents should be aware of this in case their children aren't ready for such. If you loved The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, you'll certainly like this one even though it's a full notch below that film. It's getting darker, scarier, and much more dangerous in Narnia!

Component Grades
4 stars
3 Stars
DVD Experience
3.5 stars


DVD Details:

Screen Formats: 2.40:1

Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

Language and Sound: English: PCM 7.1; English: Dolby True HD; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1

Other Features: Color; interactive menus; scene access; director's commentary.

* Commentary
o Feature-length commentary track with director Andrew Adamson and actors.

Number of Discs: 1 with Keepcase Packaging