News From Terre Haute, Indiana

At the Movies

May 14, 2008

New ‘Narnia’ is both darker and funnier

HOLLYWOOD — More is more in “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian,” the follow-up to the 2005 fantasy hit “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.” It’s simultaneously darker and funnier, more substantive and more engaging, more violent and more technically accomplished.

You can’t really call it a sequel because it’s an adaptation of the second book in C.S. Lewis’ series, but seeing its predecessor is a must to understand what’s going on — and it’ll make you appreciate how much better this movie is.

“Prince Caspian” picks up a year after the Pevensie children — eldest Peter (William Moseley), young woman Susan (Anna Popplewell), teenager Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and youngster Lucy (Georgie Henley) — left Narnia and returned to school during World War II-era London. But 1,300 years have passed in the magical land where they once served as kings and queens; now under the rule of the Telmarines, the place is in ruins. The animals have gone into hiding in the forest and the majestic lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) hasn’t been seen in a millennium.

The foursome is accidentally summoned back there by Prince Caspian (British stage actor Ben Barnes), whose life is in danger. His power-hungry uncle, Lord Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), and his wife have a newborn son whom Miraz hopes will one day be king — instead of the prince.

The birth sends Caspian fleeing on horseback through the woods and across a treacherous river in the dark of night in the film’s thrilling, suspenseful opening. Andrew Adamson, veteran of the “Shrek” movies who also directed the first “Narnia,” shot the film with a cast and crew of thousands on location in unspoiled, rustic settings in New Zealand, Slovenia, Poland and the Czech Republic. Weta Digital, the masterminds behind the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, are among the special effects experts giving the movie its spectacular appeal.

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