gets a solid B+
Update: A New Review Has Been Added; See Below
Steven D. Greydanus (the best movie critic out there) has seen the new Chronicles of Narnia movie, Prince Caspian. SDG gives it a B+, which is a good rating; but his review notes more than a bit of disappointment.
Here’s the short version of the review:
- Overall Recommendability – B+
- Artistic/Entertainment Value – 3 stars (out of 4)
- Moral/Spiritual Value – +1 (on a scale from -4 to +4)
- Age Appropriateness – Kids & Up (some discernment required for “Much fantasy action and violence and some menace to children, including fairly intense battle sequences; mild adolescent flirtation and a brief kiss”)
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I plan to do so this weekend. (I still haven’t seen Iron Man; and I will DEFINITELY see Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. With the cost of gas and ticket prices, I can’t see them all).
SDG’s biggest complaint – which is an important one – is that this movie version of Prince Caspian sacrifices too many of C.S. Lewis’ themes for the sake of action. Let me give you a taste of the review here:
Thematically, the book follows up the Narnian passion and redemption story with a vision of post-Enlightenment skepticism, in which the very existence of the omnipotent Lion Aslan and of High King Peter and his siblings has been largely forgotten, suppressed or dismissed as a fairy tale. …
For better and for worse — and it’s quite a bit of both — the big-screen Prince Caspian takes far more creative license than its predecessor. There is definitely an up side: Not only is Caspian a better-made film, in some ways it manages to improve on Lewis’s plot without violating its spirit. …
The more serious problem is that while the essence of Lewis’s plot is preserved, the themes and ideas behind the story are largely lost. If the first Narnia film got perhaps two-thirds of Lewis’s intended meaning, Caspian is lucky if it gets a quarter. That may not directly detract from its merits as escapist fantasy, but Lewis fans with regrets about the first film will feel betrayed by the second — and not just because events have been changed. …
More inspired by the book than adapting it, Caspian is most likely to appeal to those not especially attached to the book, which is after all a lesser work flanked by two more popular tales. The next hurtle, though, matters a lot more: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader demands better than this series at its best has been able to deliver. If the same team were going on to the third film, I would be about ready to write it off now.
In other words, if you haven’t read the books – and you don’t really plan to do so – then the movie is just fine, especially if you are not looking for some deeper Christian significance.
Of couse, a deeper Christian significance is precisely what C.S. Lewis was all about.
The review is long (but not too long) and detailed. For more in-depth stuff, check out SDG’s articles “Eye Candy and Vague Faith in Narnia“; and also “Narnia Filmmakes Hype the Fantasy, Hedge the Faith“. If you want to see how SDG rated the first Narnia movie, see his review for The Lion, The Witch, & The Wardrobe.
Just to balance things off, I read on another blog (National Review Online – a political blog) that Prince Caspian is better than Iron Man, which got rave reviews. But there was no indication if the review had actually read the book first.
Check out these other cool links for things Narnian (from BeliefNet):
- Top 12 Spiritual Lessions from Prince Caspian
- Which Narnian Character Are You? – personality quiz
- Narnia Trivia Quiz
- C.S. Lewis Knowledge Quiz
- Religion & Mythology in Narnia Quiz
If you see the move, let us know in the combox what you thought about it.
Update: Many thanks to Leticia Velasquez for submitting her review of the movie. Leticia commented in the May Pilgrimage comment box. Her review, which can be found at Mercator.net, is well-written and insightful. I hope that she becomes a regular visitor at VPCYG Blog.