I must confess, after reading a number of not so enthusiastic reviews for this movie, I was a bit apprehensive. My fears proved to be unfounded as the movie proceeded to exceed my expectations.
1. Story- This is the most important part of any movie. The story C.S. Lewis created is loved by many people all across the world and so it was vital that the film makers capture the essence of the world and story that Lewis created. I think they succeeded very well here. No book will ever make the translation to screen without dramatic cuts and even a bit of liberty taken with the screen time of characters and the overall pacing and story. The film makers were able to capture the essence of the story, including the powerful Christian allegory. The allegory gives a layer to the story that adds depth that keeps the movie from becoming just another Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter clone. While some criticize the movie for it’s allegory, I applaud the film makers for maintaining it. Without the allegory, Narnia would be nothing more than summer movie fluff.
2. Acting- Working with young actors and actresses can be hit and miss. Fortunately, Caspian almost always hits the target with both the live actors and the CG characters. There were a few weak lines, but overall the actors carried the story well. The voice actors they chose for the CG characters were stellar and really brought them to life. Overall, I think the acting was actually more consistent and more refined in this movie than in Wardrobe. You can tell the cast has worked together before and their experience with each other reflects well in the movie.
3. CG, makeup, and costumes- The movie does extraordinarily well in these departments. The CG is top notch and brings a variety of challenging characters to life. The makeup on the non CG actors is very well done and, along with the costumes, helps bring the huge variety of Narnian creatures to life.
4. Pace- Thankfully, the film makers did not feel the need to make a four hour epic. The movie moves along at a nice pace with a good balance of faster and slower scenes. The long, sweeping shots of Lord of the Rings may have worked for that series, but I’m glad that Adamson kept the movie fairly crisp in pace and did not make it unnecessarily long.
5. Conclusion- I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I don’t expect it to do as well as Wardrobe because they chose to open the movie in a summer that is jam-packed with big movies. The movie would have done better if they had done a winter open because the competition for viewers wouldn’t have been quite as fierce. That said, I hope the movie does well enough that a sequel will follow quickly.
The movie did have a few moments that distracted from the overall story, like the Caspian-Susan crush, but fortunately those moments are brief and do not spoil the rest of the movie. As a piece of fantasy movie making, Caspian ranks with Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings in terms of quality. As a powerful moral tale and Christian allegory that has the potential to open the door for theological discussions, the movie stands above even the lofty Lord of the Rings.