Although I liked the Disney Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe that came out a couple of years ago, I have to admit, it wasn’t particularly memorable. Prince Caspian seemed darker in tone, slightly more grown up, and has a couple of scenes which will definitely stick in the memory.
The first is an abortive attack on the king’s castle; a scene which isn’t in the book, but adds a bit of drama to the narrative. It also brings a main theme of the book to the forefront - Peter’s desire to do things his way, and not follow Lucy’s promptings about Aslan, result in a slaughter of heroic Narnians. The self-destruction is compounded by Caspian’s desire for revenge on the villainous Miraz, for murdering his father. There’s a definite tension between going your own way, and going the right way.
The second particularly memorable scene features Caspian and Peter being tempted to resurrect the White Witch as an alternative source of power to Aslan. This is much more emphasised than in the book, with the Witch appearing imprisoned in a sheet of ice, and captivating Caspian and Peter until Edmund breaks the spell. I’ve noticed a few commenters saying this scene isn’t in the book at all, but it is, although not as dramatic. (The dialogue of protagonists like the hag and the werewolf is actually lifted straight from the novel.)
As a scene, this develops Edmund’s character quite a bit. He was always the more interesting of the two brothers - Peter, by contrast, is a bit one-dimensional. Of course, Edmund takes the lead role in the third book written in the series, which is going to be the next film, Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Edmund has a darker side in the books - “I know what it means to be a traitor”, he says darkly in The Horse and his Boy - and this is emphasised by the way he’s the one who has seen through the White Witch and can resist her evil charms.
I had a few quibbles. The final showdown between the Narnian and the Telmarine army is overdone and is obviously still trying to outdo Lord of the Rings in terms of fantasy battles. The hinted-at attraction between Susan and Caspian is embarrassing. And some of the minor characters who shine in the book, like the Bulgy Bears, hardly get a look in. Even some semi-important supporting roles, such as Trumpkin the dwarf, are significantly reduced.
But on the other hand, Reepicheep, drolly voiced by the ever-dry Eddie Izzard is almost pitch-perfect, and there are more bits to make you stop and think than in your average popcorn-fodder blockbuster. At one point Aslan asks Lucy why she didn’t follow after him, and she says that no one else was willing to. “Why would that stop you?” is Aslan’s rebuke.
I fully expect to see that clip or hear that quote in a sermon before the year is out.
Jongudmund’s rating: 7.5/10 - Probably best on the big screen.