Prince Caspian Makes Narnia.Pure Magic; CUTTING EDGE: Ben Barnes as the Prince in the 'Superbly Visualised' the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Right: Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley and Peter Dinklage
Byline: Matthew Bond
The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian Director: Andrew AdamsonStarring: Ben Barnes, Sergio Castellitto, William Moseley Certificate: PG Time:2hrs 24mins
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A couple of years ago I tried reading Prince Caspian to my children but,perhaps because of my poor performance as a talking badger or my dodgyTelmarine accent, we never quite got to the end.
I can guarantee that won't be a problem with the stunning new film of thesecond book in C.S. Lewis's Narnia series. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobewas good, but the superbly visualised The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspianis even better, although I should point out that children younger than mybloodthirsty pair (ten and 11) may well be disturbed by the picture's fairlyuncompromising battle scenes.
Dealing with distinctly adult themes such as guilt, failure and murderoustreachery, Prince Caspian is the sort of film that neither pulls its plotlinepunches nor spares the sword and, as a result, may go down better withaccompanying parents than it will with their offspring.
A calendar year has passed since Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy returned fromNarnia, but when they are summoned again, this time from a wartime Tubeplatform, they discover that 1,300 years has gone by in Narnia. Their castle,Cair Paravel, is in ruins, the magical creatures and talking animals havedisappeared, and Aslan, the country's God-like lion, hasn't been seen for amillennium.
Narnia is now ruled by men, the Telmarines, and in particular by Miraz (SergioCastellitto), the evil regent who should be protecting the rightful heir, hisnephew Prince Caspian, but is scheming to steal power for himself.
As the film begins, Miraz's wife has just given birth to a son and Mirazrealises that if he can just get rid of Caspian, the throne will pass to hisfamily line for ever.
Caspian, played by newcomer Ben Barnes, has to escape the royal palace thatnight and, helped by his resourceful tutor, Doctor Cornelius, he makes his wayon horseback into the dark forest where he soon discovers the Narnia of old isnot quite as dead as everyone thinks.
But he is going to need help to fight Miraz, not just from the dwarves who findhim but from the old kings and queens of Narnia. That's Peter, Susan, Edmundand Lucy, of course.
Normally, it's the talking animals that trip me up, but thanks to faultlessvoice performances from Ken Stott, as Trufflehunter the badger, and EddieIzzard, as Reepicheep, the gallant, swashbuckling mouse, that didn't happenhere.
Director Andrew Adamson, whose past credits include the first two Shrek filmsas well as The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, delivers some terrific setpieces, which include the ill-fated storming of the castle, an encounter withthe White Witch and the inevitable final battle.
Each time, however, he makes sure there's some genuine human emotion to go withthe spectacle. Peter's despair after making a fatal tactical error in theattack on the castle is particularly poignant, getting to the heart of whatthis story is about - the transition from childhood to adulthood.
The heavy Hispanic accents adopted by the Telmarines at times make the story alittle difficult to follow but Castellitto makes such a superb baddie that anyinconvenience is forgivable.
With Adamson once again drawing nicely underplayed performances from his youngactors and seamlessly combining live action with computer-generated effects,Prince Caspian is as good as this sort of fantasy adventure gets.
Two consecutive scenes tell you pretty much all you need to know about Wanted.In one, Angelina Jolie steps out of a bath and gives us a tantalising glimpseof her shapely, if heavily tattooed, rear view. …