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The Chronicles of Narnia
dir Andrew Adamson
scr Andrew Adamson, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely
with Ben Barnes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Peter Dinklage, Sergio Castellitto, Warwick Davis, Pierfrancesco Favino, Cornell John, Vincent Grass, Tilda Swinton
voices Liam Neeson, Eddie Izzard, David Walliams, Ken Stott
release US 16.May.08, UK 26.Jun.08
08/UK Disney 2h24
Plan of attack: Barnes, Moseley and Keynes
INTERVIEW WITH BEN BARNES
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
The nature of this second book in CS Lewis' series makes it a much stronger film than the first instalment. Darker, more complex and less prone to the cutesy wow-factor, this is a gripping tale with a thoughtful message.
It's been over a year since the Pevensie children (Moseley, Popplewell, Keynes and Henley) left Narnia, but when they transported back from wartime London, nearly 1,300 years have passed there. The Telmarines have tried to exterminate Narnia's population, and now King Miraz (Castellitto) wants to kill the true heir to the throne, his nephew Caspian (Barnes). But the Narnians have survived underground, and they team up with the Pevensies and Caspian to either find peace with the Telmarines or die trying.
This is a much gloomier Narnia, with deep shadows, constant peril, sudden violence and people who are self-promoting and ruthlessly ambitious. And the production looks terrific, with seamless effects and gutsy (PG-rated) battles, plus terrific new characters like the cocksure mouse Reepicheep, cheekily voiced by Izzard. At the centre, Caspian is nicely played by Barnes (despite the uneven accent) as a conflicted young hero who has to do a lot more than just grow up and start to understand the world outside his sphere of reference.
Yes, there are strong parallels with the current global political situation as two sides square off for a war that seems pointless and misjudged from the start. Unlike the first film, Adamson actually manages to make the magical Narnians feel much more organic; the dwarfs, centaurs, talking animals and such blend into the crowd this time, which is strangely exhilarating, especially since they don't agree on everything. And Moseley, Popplewell, Keynes and Henley are terrific as Narnia's returning kings and queens, each with an intriguing internal journey.
The script manages the difficult task of looking simple but actually packing in some serious themes. It has a tendency to opt for silly one-liners, which are funny but begin to grate (especially for Dinklage's character Trumpkin, who's continually sidelined as comic relief). More importantly, the message isn't the usual Hollywood hokum: sometimes you can't find the strength within yourself to solve your problems, sometimes you need your friends, and sometimes you need someone even bigger, not to save the day, but to inspire you to rise to the occasion.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2008 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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