Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Prince Caspian {Movie Review}



Yes, a new age has begun in Narnia, but the focus of this newest rendition of the classic Narnian tale "Prince Caspian" falls short of the mark the book left for it to reach.

SPOILERS AHEAD



With continuous comments such as
Lucy: "I was so tall"
Susan: "You were older back then"

and
Peter: "I wasn't always a child"

the movie would have more aptly been title Back When We Were Grownups but, since that title is already taken, perhaps Remember When We Were Grownups would also suffice.
There are obviously certain items that must be changed in any translation. There are some forgivable translation "errors" and some unforgivable ones. This movie is riddled with both.

I understand why they had to begin the movie in the fashion they did (though they could have made it harder for the Pevensie's to figure out they were in the ruins of Cair Paravel), but seriously, must Peter be portrayed in such a high-and-mighty fashion?

Peter (to Trumpkin): "High King Peter, (pause) the Magnificent"
Susan: "I think you could've left the last part off"


So, I do understand why they would cause such an adjustment in Peter, but that causes focus to shift from what Lewis emphasized in his work, and completely adds an unnecessary dimension to the story. But I can understand their rationale.

But must Susan and Caspian "fall in love?" I was seriously hoping they would not add that in the movie (not to mention it could cause for a sticky situation in Dawn Treader). I mean COME ON, really. Again, it totally detracts from Lewis' work (and the kiss was even more unnecessary than their feelings for each other).

Susan: "Why don't you hold on to it [her horn]. You might need to call me again."

...
Susan: "It never would've worked, anyway."
Caspian: "Why not?"
Susan: "I am 1300 years older than you..."


Adding the White Witch definitely added conflict to Disney's version, but utterly went against Lewis' intentions. Lucy was still herself, Reepicheep rocks, and Edmund's character came across nicely (in fact, him and Peter seemed to have swapped places from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, which shouldn't be the case AT ALL, but ...), but Aslan played a terribly small part in the movie when he permeates the book.

I did (thankfully) know going into the movie that it did not stick to the book. The article (in World magazine) that I read said that most fans would be pleased with the movie rendition, and that only the die-heart purists would be disappointed. That would be me.

So, I said that Prince Caspian was a "Must See Movie" do I know have cause to eat my words? Yes and no. In spite of all of the problems in adaptation that I pointed out (which only scratch the surface of some interpretive issues) I actually really did enjoy the movie (in spite of the stupid "romance" which detracts, even if separating from the film from the book), as long I did not at all compare it to the book. As a movie not based off of a novel it was pretty good. But, like almost every movie adaptation, it misses the mark ... big time when compared to the actual novel. However, great lessons can be learned from this latest edition of Prince Caspian. You may not want to take your small children to go see this movie even if they were okay with the first movie (this movie has more violence and "fantastic" [in the classical sense of the word] creatures), but Caspian is worth seeing.


1.5 out of 5 stars.

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3 comments:

Stephanie said...

I enjoyed the movie and liked what they did with most of it, even allowing for some of the changes. I basically just have 2 things that I wished were different.

The first is Susan and Caspian's "love story." I can understand the directors going so far as to put an element of attraction in where there wasn't one in the book, but I think they took it too far. Please, don't change the story that much! It came across as cheesy, in my opinion.

The second, which is my main disappointment with the movie, is what they did to Peter's character. I understand why they wanted to make Peter more "human" or more accessible than he was in the books (where according to the directors, he was consistently yet unrealistically noble and heroic), and they did a good job portraying his pride and fall. He wanted to prove himself and failed when he didn't trust Aslan. What I was disappointed in is that they never fully rebuilt his character; Peter never grew up into being strong and a king again. At the end of the movie, he was still a young man just coming out of a struggle, which is not the Peter from the books. And he won't really be back until The Last Battle, so he must remain as such until then... Unfortunately, this will be the Peter that people remember. They won't see his repentance and redemption, and the strength of his character as clearly as I would like.

But with all that said, I'll reiterate that I did enjoy the movie and still recommend it!

Ronnica said...

I know you've already read my thoughts on the movie, but here's some more. =) I used to hate when movies were different than the books they were based on, but I've since gained a greater appreciation of film and realized that what makes a great movie isn't the same as what makes a great book.

I really liked Edmund's character in this movie. I felt like they did a good job of causing the audience to remember why he is the way he is, though they couldn't use Lewis's little asides as the book does.

I really wish that the kids had been younger, but I suppose that was inevitable. The "romance" of course was a horrible change, and I was disappointed as well in the treatment of Lucy's first meeting with Aslan as a dream, but felt that the constant imagies of lions and the talk of Aslan and how, etc. did a great job of leading up to when he actually appears. Though he wasn't actually on screen as much as the book would have dictated, I think this drew a greater importance to him in the movie than he otherwise might have.

Though I thought it was interesting to see Peter and his character struggle, it certainly detracted from Lucy's struggle. If they hadn't focused so much on Peter, they could have let Lucy's battle (do I follow Aslan or my brothers and sister?) shine. Of course, by taking what took half the book and putting in 15 minutes of the movie will do that.

I'm afraid that what they have done might be precedence to stray further from Lewis in any future movies. There are some parts of those books that I would hate to see changed! Though I suppose Prince Caspian might be the hardest to translate into a movie because of the way most of the plot is revealed through narration to the children.

Sophie said...

I certainly agree with you both.

While I am looking forward to The Voyage of the Dawn Treader I am now concerned about how they will adapt that particular movie. There are many essentials that, if changed, could leave the writers/producers/etc with at least one outraged fan. I hope they go back to a "purer" (or not-so-changed) interpretation for the remaining movies.