Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Catholic Movie Review - Prince Caspian (2008)

We all trooped down to the local cinema tonight to catch Prince Caspian, the second installment of the current Chronicles of Narnia series, and were not disappointed. My children have been eagerly waiting for this release. They've had a full page ad announcing the release date posted on the wall of their study for several months now.

Like the previous movie, the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian reworked some of the sequence and added some incidents to give the plot, which tends to unfold rather more like a pageant than an thriller in Lewis' books, more dramatic punch and, in my opinion, succeeded. While a complete explanation might spoil some surprises, the major changes seemed to be consistent with the character, themes, and thrust of the book.

There were a few minor annoyances, of course. Since this is a movie made by a Hollywood studio, the only character who expresses thanks to God is the main villain. In fact, all the villains seem to be Spaniards from the age of the armada, and suggested, to me anyway, the standard Hollywood canard of the evil Spanish Catholics of the black legend. The clarity of the allegorical identification of the dwarf Nikabrik with materialism and the dwarf Trumpkin with Enlightenment scepticism has been muddied. Also, as others have pointed out, Aslan's divinity has been undercut by subtle changes to some of his lines. For example, rather than saying that no one is told what would have happened if he had acted differently, Aslan says that no one *knows* what would have happened, implying that Aslan doesn't know, either. In another scene, rather than saying that, as Lucy gets bigger, he appears to her to be bigger, Aslan says that, as Lucy gets bigger, he *gets* bigger.

That being said, the movie is technically very good. The photography is beautiful, the action sequences are convincing, and the computer graphics are seamlessly woven into the live action. Most important, Lewis' morality and theology inform the action, which is not only important didactically. Rather, it gives the movie its main dramatic interest, and makes it more than a lot of random fighting and special effects. It is the absence of such a moral and theological context that makes so many Hollywood fantasies, like the recent Mr Magorium's Emporium and the Golden Compass, so boring.

1 comment:

Mark said...

Thank you Vincent for your honest review of this movie. My wife and I saw it together with our granddaughter and daughter-in-law at the film's screening in Vancouver and we came away feeling that we had just watched a well-made, thought provoking film, one that did not stray (much) from the original story and touched our hearts the way that Lewis intended.

In Christ,