This sequel to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe review takes place within RevSF staff writer Laura Eldred’s brain. RevSF king-of-awesomeness Andrew Kozma was unavailable to co-write this review with Laura, thus she was forced to rely on the version of Andrew she keeps inside her head. [Note: Andrew Kozma had nothing to do with the writing of this review.]
Laura: My, Andy, your hair looks lovely.
Andy: You don’t let me cut my hair in here.
Laura: Yeah, well, it’s my brain. If you insist on chopping off your lovely, silky hair out in the “real world,” that’s your own problem. But I’ve brought you out today for something more pressing than your hair, though only very few things could earn that honor: the sequel to our Narnia review!
Andy: The real me is sick with an ear infection. So you have to get your jollies from this piss-poor replica inside Laura’s head. With teenage hair.
Laura: So, what’d you think of the movie?
Andy: You know full well I didn’t see it. Sick, right?
Laura: Why don’t you just pretend you did and say some things that I think about it?
Andy: I could say some other things that you think, like about peanut butter and b-
Laura: MIND-ANDY, YOU SHUT YOUR PIE-HOLE!
Andy: Well, OK. I’ll say first of all that you, or we, thought the movie was worth seeing. The CGI is quite good (better than the first film), the acting’s fine and even impressive for one actor, the plot is reasonably interesting, and who doesn’t like to see talking badgers and people getting dropped onto battlements by griffons?
Let’s begin at the beginning. Plot. The Pevensie kids are having a bit of a hard time adjusting to life back in England. After all, they became adults in Narnia and then got stuck back into kids’ bodies.
Laura: Thus ensuring that they’ll have to go through puberty twice. Suckola.
Andy: Fortuitously for us moviegoers, who would otherwise have to watch two and a half hours of Susan getting hit on by pimply nerds, Narnia does the proper thing and whisks the kids back.
Laura: Darn tootin!
Andy: Except Narnia ain’t what it used to be. The children (the old kings and queens of Narnia) are scarcely more than a legend told in bedtime stories. Narnians (the fauns, centaurs, talking badgers, and so forth of the first movie) haven’t been seen in some time and are presumed extinct.
Laura: The Telmarines (invading humans) did their best to wipe them out generations ago, and they seem to have succeeded.
Andy: Prince Caspian, the heir apparent to the throne, is in danger. His uncle Miraz covets the prince’s throne.
Laura: Before long, Caspian meets up with some supposedly “extinct” Narnians, and they join forces with him against his tyrannical uncle.
Andy: Shenanigans ensue. Mostly of the swords poking people violently variety.
Laura: As Trumpkin (played by Peter Dinklage) says, Narnia is a much darker place than when the children left. Those Narnians that are left are suspicious and cynical, and Aslan hasn’t been seen for generations. How can this rag-tag bunch of misfits defeat Miraz’s forces, which outnumber them 10 to 1?
Andy: Or 12 to 1.
Laura: Either way. So, on to our critique. The kids have spent some of the intervening time getting additional acting lessons, which they sorely needed.
Andy: Some of the sheer schmaltz spread onto cheese of the first Narnia has thus been mitigated.
Laura: Though I’d say this cheese was still dipped in sugar. Dinklage, as Trumpkin, is a really great actor, and his unsmiling, cynical snarkiness helps. Ben Barnes as Caspian also shows some acting chops, but I think he’s mainly there to bring in the drooling preteen girls. The film does also have some more complex themes to deal with: doubt, self-loathing, and faith when it’s not so easy to have faith.
Andy: These themes are still woven into a very simple tale of good versus evil, and evil is always easily identifiable by its swarthy-complected, black wearing smarminess. Like the first movie, good and evil are easy to tell apart.
Laura: Which, I guess, is largely par for the course for a kids’ movie. Good guys are attractive and young, and bad guys are middle aged with hook noses. What isn’t really par for the course is the massive amount of violence in this film. Yes, there’s no blood, but there are impaled, shot, slit-throated corpses being thrown about, and even a decapitation, though some of this is implied and thus may not be noticed by younger audience members.
It’s still more than I’d be comfortable taking a kid to see. PG-13 would have been a more appropriate rating.
Andy: I think filmmaker Andrew Adamson may have smuggled a truckload of Cadbury Eggs to the MPAA. With special death-threat filling!
Laura: Mmm. Death-threat filling. I wish that stuff wasn’t seasonal. The film also has something to say about the nature of nationalism and politics, about how leaders solidify power by creating an external threat, some enemy to rally the troops against. And about the sacrifices people will make for personal safety in the face of that external threat.
Andy: Yeah, but you’ve said it. The film has nothing to say beyond, “Gosh, it sucks that people are like that.” There’s no solution provided. And, in fact, it’s the external threat of the Telmarines that brings the Narnians together as well.
There’s less overtly religious stuff in this film. Characters still go around saying things like “you know you can’t do this alone,” with a meaningful look at a picture of Aslan, and there’s a fair amount of talking about Aslan, but he only shows up a couple times in the movie.
Laura: Thus, Liam Neeson probably didn’t make a bundle on this one.
Andy: Unless he was paid by units of cheesiness. Brie-watts.
Laura: That’s one tasty unit. To sum up, the film is reasonably well done; the animation looks great; the acting is better than last time. I’d beware of taking children to the film, because while the message is family-friendly, there’s a lot of violence that does ultimately suggest that the way to deal with evil is slicing it with some pointy object.
Andy: As opposed to?
Laura: Imprisoning it in your brain and brushing its pretty pretty hair.