A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this sequel to the enormously popular The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe has more dark moments than the first movie. It broods on the nature of deceit, greed, and hunger for power. It also has a brutal one-on-one swordfight (some of the shield slams may leave even adults cringing) and extensive battle scenes that are portrayed as bone-crunching, metal-clanging, sword-lancing riots. All of the main characters, except Lucy, are responsible for many enemy deaths. That said, it's all relatively blood-free: Though characters are pierced by arrows and swords and fall to the ground (many are injured, and some do die), little gore is shown besides the odd cut on the lip or cheek. Younger viewers may notice and be unsettled by the menacing tone throughout most of the movie -- including a scary appearance by the White Witch -- though it's relieved fairly frequently with funny asides from the characters. While not overt, the movie includes Christian imagery and allegorical storylines, and the characters learn clear moral lessons by the end.
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What's the story?
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN starts with a bang -- or, rather, a wail -- and doesn't let up from there. When a baby son is born to Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), his nephew, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) must flee for his life: Miraz wants the throne, and now that he has an heir, he's out for blood. Caspian heads for the enchanted woods on horseback, Miraz's henchmen in hot pursuit -- in dire need of help, he blows an ancient, magical horn, summoning back the kings and queens of old (who, at the moment, are stuck in a London subway station). And so the Pevensie siblings -- Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Lucy (Georgie Henley), and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) -- return to Narnia, hundreds of years after they left. Can they save Caspian and Narnia from Miraz and his Telmarines? And where is noble lion Aslan when you need him?
Is it any good?
PRINCE CASPIAN is lots of fun even if you're not a fan of C.S. Lewis' Narnia books. (In fact, it may be better not to be one in this case, as purists are likely to balk at some departures from the text.) Caspian doesn't offer as much whimsy as the first installment, dealing instead with darker matters -- notably that of Caspian's fight to keep his throne, which is wrenched from him by his scheming, power-mad uncle. The Narnians, under siege by the Telmarines, are rougher around the edges this time, too; they're more cynical and tired of persecution. To win their freedom, they must fight -- often, and sometimes to their death.
Still, thanks to well-paced moments of levity -- many of them instigated by swashbuckling mouse Reepicheep (voiced impeccably by Eddie Izzard) -- the long journey (the film clocks in at over two hours) doesn't lag too much. (Some jokes do jar, taking you out of the time period; the kids, for instance, refer to one of the dwarves as "DLF," for "dear little friend," which, although it's straight from the book, somehow sounds a little text message-y.) Director Andrew Adamson keeps the fight scenes taut and swift, though one less skirmish or two could have gone a long way toward preventing battle fatigue. But fine work from the cast (particularly Henley) helps make up for this, as does the breathtaking scenery. You'll be ready to book your own Narnia adventure by the time the credits roll.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether this film is faithful to the book -- both in spirit and in plot. What was changed? Why do you think the filmmakers strayed from the original story? Which do you like better, and why?
Why do you think Aslan is seen at first only by Lucy. Are there religious/Biblical overtones to her belief in him? What does he mean when he says "Nothing happens the same way twice"?
How do Caspian and Peter handle sharing leadership duties? Are they successful? If not, how do they resolve the issue?
- In theaters: May 16, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: December 1, 2008
- Cast: Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, William Moseley
- Director: Andrew Adamson
- Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
- Genre: Fantasy
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters
- Run time: 147 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: epic battle action and violence
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