starring Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell
screenplay by Andrew Adamson & Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely, based on the novel by C.S. Lewis
directed by Andrew Adamson
by Walter Chaw Let's face it: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (hereafter Narnia 2) is by most objective measures a complete mess. It doesn't do a particularly good job of shading in its backstory (you really need to have read the book or seen the first film very recently) and its narrative proper is truncated and spastic. The characters don't demonstrate enough awe when they're confronted with a minotaur for the first time, nor do they register the appropriate shock upon characters from their storybooks suddenly appearing in their midst. Though there's a real problem with special-effects films that spend too much time gawping at their own illusions, it's not much better when pictures like this give its characters good reason to be surprised and they're not. It begins in the middle and ends with an exit tune so embarrassing that it threatens to completely deflate the goodwill the picture has, against all odds, built to that point--but damn it if it isn't quite good for all that. Narnia 2 reminds of Stardust in that sense: it works because it works, because the connective tissue that's there in the ephemera is made of sinew and spider silk--strong, fibrous, and sticky even when the actual plotting does the film no favours. Its themes are universal even though C.S. Lewis is unabashedly Christian; what's laudable about the first instalment and now this sequel is the obvious pains taken to present themes of resurrection, redemption, and faith as archetype rather than dogma. Attaching something so specific as an idea of Satan, for instance, to a brief, remarkably affecting reappearance of The White Witch (Tilda Swinton) is a reach and missing the point besides. Narnia 2 is about believing in something so simple as a greater power--about humility and resisting temptation and the easy path. Yoda had something to say to my generation from atop a log in Dagobah, and it's possible to see Narnia 2 as Luke's invitation to meet his darker self in the roots of a gnarled old tree.