..Victoria Barkley..

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

The Pevensie siblings: Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) return an earth year later to Narnia for yet another adventure in this cinematic sequel to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe based on the classic children's books by C.S. Lewis.

The children are supernaturally summoned back to their kingdom, where 1,300 Narnian years have passed. After saving the dwarf, Trumpkin's (Peter Dinklage) life, they learn the sad truth of what happened since their coronation a long time ago, and meet Prince Caspian the Telmarine (Ben Barnes) in exile.

They are magically whisked from a World War II London Underground to eventually lead the Narnian freedom fighters, opposing the wicked Telmarine king Miraz (Sergio Castellito). Miraz, prince Caspian's treacherous uncle, is trying to kill his nephew and destroy Narnia. They have to intervene in order to save the future of both kingdoms as well as the prince. It's a tall order and they are, after all, only children.

Everything is different now. The natural beauty of the terrain, formerly breathtaking, is now just lifelessly pretty as a picture. Gone are the intimate connections between flora and fauna, the juicy creativity of the elements fueled by the joy of the inhabitants. Gone are the sparks of spontaneity. Dwarfs, trees, animals and magic are nearly extinct or have lost their spirit, movement or voice in their struggle to survive under Telmarine oppression.

The Pevensies are seemingly on their own now. Aslan the lion is nowhere to be found, except through signs carved in centuries old stone and in Lucy's lucid dreams. An insipid gloom and doom slowly suffocates the formerly pristine lagoons, filling all living creatures with fear and dread under the thumb of the hostile Telmarine hordes dominating and controlling the conquered region.

It takes courage and strength, resourcefulness and unity under adversity, to skillfully battle the forces of evil. The Pevensie four join forces with Caspian and a delightful assortment of Narnian critters ranging from centaurs to a master swordsman mouse musketeer, in order to return hope and bring back peace to this war torn realm.

These royal champions of Narnian antiquity might not seem much of a help to bring about change but they have hidden resources. They trust their instincts in joining forces with the elements of nature and an imaginative variety of native creatures on hoof, wing, beak and claw. They take on the challenge of leadership, not knowing the outcome, as they willingly engage in mortal combat for independence.

More of a war movie than a fairy tale, there is too much violence here for very young children to be exposed to. Although the actual physical action is mostly bloodless noise, sword play, and acrobatics, there is enough psychological pressure and emotional terror evoked by relentlessly marching Telmarine brigades in full armor, to the menacing musical score of Harry-Gregson Williams, to induce nightmares in impressionable minds.

This sequel, although entertaining and artistically inventive without too much reliance on special effects, has a more mundane magic than the first movie and lacks some of its elements of the unexpected. It is still a fun way to spend a couple of hours watching with the kids because the story of good versus evil holds true on many levels and has multi- generational appeal. And, who knows, we might even get them to read (or re-read) the book.

Other stories by Victoria Barkley:
A Message From Mom
A Tale of Two Bunnies
Animal Nature
Into the Wild - movie review
Darshan in the Dark Light of the Moon
Love Never Dies
Green Roofs, Weeds and Wildflowers
Greeting Sunrise
Arctic Tale - movie review
Seasons of Gandhi