Fair complaints of the first film being a tad boring and only blandly satisfying have mostly been successfully remedied here, which is an even greater achievement if youíre familiar with the slightly weaker source material of the second novel. The tale lends itself to a more directly action-oriented picture, though at the expense of the first storyís slowly unfolding magical wonderment.
A year after the first Narnia adventure, the Pevensie kids are summoned back to the mystical land to aid an uprising led by Prince Caspian after his evil uncle usurps the throne. After being whisked from a subway station in England to a beachside Narnian cave, the Pevensies discover the ruins of their old castle, realising hundreds of years have passed in Narnia in the single year they were away. Fairly standard themes of family trust and betrayal are central to the story but the angle of civilisation-building colonialists wiping out indigenous tribes and turning their existence into myth is a dark reflection of human history.
Itís a much darker film as a whole and credit must be given to director Andrew Adamson for creating some of the most visceral battle scenes ever seen in a PG film. Thereís still barely a spot of blood but cringe-worthy blows abound. The CGI work is excellent. Narniaís cast of Minotaurs, Centaurs, Griffins and assorted humanoids easily trounce The Golden Compassís polar bears for awe factor.
Peter Dinklage and Warwick Davis as dwarves are fantastic and the inexperienced Pevensie children, particularly the actors portraying Peter, Lucy and Edmond, much more confidently inhabit their roles. Ben Barnes as Caspian isnít very likable at first but his performance is consistent, so it seems thatís how his character is supposed to come off.
Prince Caspian has made the improvements the franchise needed to keep the audience interested. Hopefully this will set the benchmark for the rest of the series, as the truly challenging tales to translate to cinema are still to come. (Disney/Buena Vista)