Friday, June 06, 2008
CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN
A REGAL EPIC
By Reymundo Salao
Synopsis: A year after their return, Pevensie kids find themselves summoned again back into Narnia... but this time, it was a different Narnia, a far more savage land where the Narnians that used to roam the lands have become almost extinct. The rulers of this land are now humans known as the Telmarines, who have wiped out the existence of Narnians as if they were wild pests that need to be exterminated. The then naive Telmarine prince named Caspian (who is also the rightful heir to the Telmarine throne) fled his kingdom after finding out that his uncle, King Miraz, the current standing ruler of the Telmarines intends to kill him. While hiding in the woods as a fugitive, he befriends some Narnians and discovers the real story as to how the Narnians were robbed of their kingdom. After gaining trust with each other, he allies with them in their struggle against Miraz.
But in order to win the war, they needed the help of the Kings and Queens of Old; which were actually the Pevensies who actually had ruled Narnia for years before that time. With the Pevensies return to Narnia, they are bothered by the great regret as why (they felt as if) they abandoned Narnia. And with a far more dangerous adversary, allies of lesser number, and the absence of Aslan, can the Pevensies, Prince Caspian, and the rest of the struggling Narnians have the strength to face defeat?
Just like the great epic movies of sci-fi and fantasy, PRINCE CASPIAN is as grand and dramatically darker as Two Towers and Empire Strikes Back. That great second chapter where everything worsens, where we realize that everything really isn’t about fairy tales and easy-go-lucky happy endings, on this chapter we see serious mortal wounds and frightening tragedies. This great dramatic detour wherein the characters go through an extreme acid test, when they go through it, they would have already evolved.
If the first Narnia movie The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe was about childish fantasies, this sequel is about how fantasies can fail. Caspian was far more darker and had a more medieval fantasy epic atmosphere. Narnia is not anymore a place for Mr. Tumnus and his funny little umbrella. In this Narnia, you will not survive if you did not carry a sword around. Our main characters here are witness to how gruesome failure can be. From the audience point of view, it puts the characters on a more dramatically-challenging position, giving them a chance to deal with far more serious issues. What with the dramatic sense of guilt the Pevensies had when they find that they seem to have abandoned Narnia and Aslan, with the internal conflict between Peter and Caspian, and then the temptation to darkness at their hour of despair.
The people behind this movie are remarkable. The movie, of course, is faithful to the book by C.S. Lewis but screenwriters Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and Andrew Adamson who is also the director of the movie, made minor and clever little additions to the story, such as the friction between Caspian and Peter, two characters who have their own issues to deal with, it only makes sense that these characters would tend to get on each other's nerves.
Some critics disliked the movie because of its darker, more violent tone. But the storyline of Narnia has to move on, and the children had to grow up to face far more serious challenges. Challenges that are there, not just to create an "action movie scenario" but to see how our heroes dramatically react to new threats. That's what makes Prince Caspian a better movie, the threat is more real, and the battles are realistic, because the villains are not fantasy creatures anymore. They were humans. The appearance of the White Witch was also one of the thrilling moments of the movie, what indeed would make an ultimate sequel--- if not an echo of acknowledgement from the villain of the previous movie?’
Caspian makes you say "eat that, George Lucas!" because clearly, this movie managed to give adequate action-fantasy without giving up its excellent storyline. I could not help but contrast this movie to any one of George Lucas' Star Wars prequels. This second Narnia movie has that great balance of good story, powerful actors & actresses, and spectacular eye candy. This has the makings of a good epic franchise that hopefully would continue smoothly till the last book. Let's just hope it does not have the same fate of franchises that fail by the third movie (spider-man 3, X-men 3).
Disney has succeeded in making a fantasy epic which is as seriously excellent as the Lord of the Rings movies. So far, with this year's Hollywood summer movie bets, Iron Man was great but not blinding, Indy 4 was a silly disappointment, and Speed Racer was just awful. While Prince Caspian is my first big personal atomic bomb champion for this summer so far (I’m still eagerly awaiting Incredible Hulk and Dark Knight). I am at all counts, all praises for this movie. The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian has a regal high score; a movie that shouldn’t be missed.