Prince Caspian; reviewed by a fan

For those that don’t know, I’m a huge Narnia fan. Here is my opinion of the new film. There are definately spoilers.

The film is not a let down; The film doesn’t suck, which is a real relief.

But it does fail, and pretty consistently, throughout.

Opening in Narnia is weird. There are only twoof seven books that do this in the series, one is the final installment, and the purpose, as I see it, is to experience the arrival of the Friends from the perspective of a Narnian king in prayer. The other, in a story where none of the principle characters are from earth.

Instead, this film opens mid-plot in Narnia, for,… well, no good reason. Caspian’s flight from the castle may indeed be a center piece for the drama in the film, but not to such a degree that the audience can be thrust into it without any background.

The reasons that this is bad:

~ No one understands what it going on unless they know the book

~ Caspian doesnt really understand what is going on

Further Ramifications of these things

~ Caspian blows the horn in the opening sequence, for no good reason (rather than as a matter of great debate)

~ Trumpkin is captured immediately by the military presence that prompts said horn blowing

~ There’s no way that Trumpkin could have known who caspian was, or what he was doing

~ There is no space for Trumpkin’s cynicism to develop, at all (consequently, no one understands why he gets roared at, including himself)

~When Trumpkin meets the Friends of Narnia, he’s supposed to get them up to date on what’s been happening. Except he doesnt know anything about Prince Caspian— it was certainly a surprise to Trufflehunter and Nikabrick that this was who was staying in their hole in the ground.– how much more so for a cynic like Trumpkin? So how is it that peter knows anything about what’s going on when he runs into Caspian, “I believe you called”, etc. He should know nothing.

How people make millions of dollars to make films and this kind of BS slips through is completely beyond my understanding.

Now, I’m not a huge stickler for adaptations keeping to the letter of the source material, and I’m a big proponent of, well, principally, the kind of awesome adaptation that we saw in 1994 when Branagh imagined Frankenstein, mostly because it was smartly adapted.

Smart adaptation is the key, not accurate adaptation. You are recreating spirit, not the reality of the book into images (not always, anyway)

Now, that said, the changes made in the adaptation of Prince Caspian were not done in the spirit of the book, they were done to create moods and tension, and pacing, that was never present. While this isn’t bad in and of itself, they were done in ways that left big gaping holes in the plot and characters. unacceptable.

Peter is a good leader, but is actually really terrible at it.  Caspian is a follower of the old ways, but is pretty enraptured at the idea of using evil.  Caspian is noble, but doesn’t fight in the single combat to save Narnia, even though he’s not wounded like he’s supposed to be…. Nikabrick, well, we saw so little of him that I have to write a sentence about nothing just to bring him up. Susan hates being in Narnia, but loves it.

Again, all this would be fine, if the book was about contradictions, which it isn’t.

I totally disregard this idea that “Well, it’s not a cinematic book, they had to change it a lot”

That’s a total load of crap. Any topic can be delivered cinematically. But it will be that topic, not something else.

The first few chapters of the book of Prince capsian are filled with an odd mix of adventure and mystery. How did they get here? Where is here? How could this possibly be narnia? What on earth are we doing here? et al. Point is, there are plenty of things to focus on in the source material, and a person writing a good adaptation would take all of these elements from the source, and condense them into compact, efficient scenes that would hail the souls out of the viewers, and inundate them with what knowledge the visual medium can allow for. IF you need to change things to make it so compact, then do it in the knowledge that things must flow, and must make sense, and must be… you know, believable.

Glossing over the central themes of the source material so that you can devote an extra 20 minutes to action sequences is a nice way to make a bad film.

The problem is not so chronic, though. Just a thick cough. .. and even though I would like the source material to be adapted as well as it can be to the visual medium, I would rather have the filmmakers stick to the letter of the novels if they are unable to keep it logical, and in the spirit. of the text. and otherwise.

Also, Last battle won’t work without an R rating. This barely did, I need to see some blood. Reep was great, in spite of all, though he should have been insane. Edmund rocked, I cant wait to see him in Dawn Treader. I hope they keep the Regina Specktor out until the credits roll next time, not at all would be even better, though. Not because she’s so terrible, because she isn’t, but because its completely inappropriate to get whiny guttural lyrics in the middle of my fantasy opera. What is this, a disney flick?

My vote, B+, for changing crap around for no reason and making everything make less sense. I gave LWW an A-, basically for not giving peter any kind of backbone.

That’s about all I’ve got at the moment.

6 Responses to “Prince Caspian; reviewed by a fan”

  1. I agree that there were changes, but I thought that the producers and writers made them work. I was an elementary teacher for 10 years and read The Lion, The Witch, and The
    Wardrobe to my class every year as it has always been one of my favorite books. Some years, I also read the next two and one year, the whole series. (Fun!) All that being said, Prince Caspian was the one that I had to omit sections out of because it was too long and wordy. I love the series and all the books, but I was pleased with the moving of the action. I was so pleased with Reepicheep! I thought Edmund was great.
    I too,was disturbed by the song at the end. That did seem out of place and would have preferred more Narnian musical tunes!
    I will be heading out to see it again soon, so may notice other things the next time!

  2. ephisus Says:

    I want to be clear about one thing:

    I’m 150% for changes taking place in the adaptive process.

    For instance:

    Miraz’s shakey hold on his thrown was well expounded on.

    The Night raid expansion was excellent.

    Other things, were terrible, forced, and did not, as you said, work.

    Susan and Caspian Romance. No good reason for it. The spirit of the work is that Caspian is in awe of the Golden Age of Narnia. Flirting doesnt work.

    But the big one is Trumpkin’s lack of involvement and cynicism, and the accidental summoning of the Friends of Narnia, and his accidental meeting with them… That is…. a serious shift that not only moves away from the spirit and content of the Novel, but it unravels the fabric of the narrative when it diminishing the Trumpkin Dynamic.

    See, in the book, Trumpkin is saying “There’s a war on, and caspian needs your help, now! we’ve got to get there”– Hence, all the rush.

    If you watch the film with fresh eyes, pretend you dont know whats happening, Trumpkin has no knowledge that anything is happening, other than the status quo, and I bet he wouldn’t mind stretching out on the beach there for a couple of weeks. It’s not like there’s a war going on, and certainly no news surrounding a Prince attempting to usurp the thrown of his enemies. As far as he knows, there’s still a pretty basic non-aggressive standoff.

    So, now peter shouldnt know whats happening in the narnian camp, and there certainly isnt any dire need to rush anywhere, and no reason for them to be doing anything, other than looking for Aslan.

    I tell you, it smacks to high heaven. It’s like there are quarter of an hour sections missing from the film, and the only way that the audience could possibly, abstractly connect the dots is if they have extensive knowledge of the books.

    As a fan, I enjoyed the film. I still say it ranks a high B. But Adamson requires a smack on the wrist with a ruler, and a serious downgrade in pay.

    I’m glad he isn’t directing dawn treader. Hopefully they have their act together by the time Horse and His Boy rolls around, and they hire me to direct it.

  3. Different Diana Says:

    I totally agree with your review. I also wondered how Trumpkin knew about Caspian. My main problems, though, had to do with the way characters were changed and inconsistent. Instead of Caspian being a good but naive kid we got “Hey! Look at this guy! Isn’t he cool?” and that was about it for his character development. Also why was Susan the Gentle turned into an action heroine? If they had to put a girl in the battles, it should have at least been Lucy the Valiant. I’ll cut this comment short before it becomes a long rant.

  4. ephisus Says:

    Me, I didn’t mind Caspian being older and more capable, per se. If the film was done well, and he was intensely capable and everything was still going to crap, it would really hit home that Narnia was in dire need of help; it could conceivably be a good adaptive tool.

    Susan fighting. Don’t have *as big* of a problem with it as many people around, but it should never have been highlighted the way it was, though, for things to be in balance, Lucy should have killed twice as many as however many Susan dispatched.

    That. would be sweet.

  5. FierceAngel Says:

    http://maidensofworth.org/2008/05/just-kiss.html

    In the randomness that is life, I was going through blogs on blogger and stumbled across the blog in the link above and it made me think about you and then I decided to check your blog to see if you had written anything amazing lately and when I saw the movie review it just seemed like too big of a coincidence.

  6. you might be interested to learn, that in spite of my vow to not kiss before marriage, I do stage kiss.

    I think that similar people that throw up a fit about it have missed the point, not just that attitudes direct action, not the other way around, but the nature of performance art.

    susan kissing isn’t that big of a problem to me. it is something her fickle character would do.

    the problem is that people think the character is acting well, not that it happened.

    anyway… im writing something very, very wieghty, check back soon.

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