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Chronicles of Narnia, The: Prince Caspian Print E-mail
Friday, 12 December 2008
Image“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” is the second film in the Narnia series, the first being “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.”  The films are based on the fantasy novels by C.S. Lewis.  Many of us can remember reading the series of books as kids.  For those not familiar with the original novels, they were then what Harry Potter is now.

This second film is one of those few sequels that are better than the original.  The entire cast returns for their next adventure in the land of Narnia.  After one year of being back in London, Prince Caspian blows Susan’s horn and brings the quartet of kings and queens back to Narnia.  At the end of the first film, the four of them were full grown ups in Narnia, but returned to London and reverted back to their younger selves.  “Prince Caspian” brings them back to Narnia as their younger selves, but 1300 years later.

The Pevensie siblings, Lucy, Susan, Peter and Edmund, return to discover the ruins of Narnia and the absence of Aslan.  After King Miraz has a son, an heir to his thrown, he sets out to have his nephew, the true heir to the thrown, killed.  Fortunately, he escapes with the help of his professor, only to run into the though to be extinct Narnians in the woods.  He makes a truce with the Narnians to bring peace between the Narnians and the Telmarines.

When the four kings and queens show up, they immediately take over and plan and onslaught against the unguarded castle of King Miraz, despite objections by many of the Narnian warriors and Prince Caspian.  The attack plans of King Peter are thwarted at castle, and they are forced to retreat.

The final showdowns occur back at the cavern fort of the Narnians.  Peter challenges King Miraz to one on one combat – winner takes all.  Naturally, the Telmarines have no honor and will never follow through on the agreement.  The Narnians hold off the Telmarines while Lucy heads into the forest to try to find Aslan and awaken her fairytale friends.  The last 20 minutes of the film truly amazing. The film does have its holes in the story due to the adaptation from book to film process.  I due recommend reading the book, either before or after.  There’s no limit to your imagination in the book, and the subtext of the film is better presented in the book.

The movie is filled with wonderful imagery, unfortunately, much of it CGI’d.  Still much of the film was shot across New Zealand, Slovenia, and Poland.  These places make for terrific backdrops.  The forest sequences are lively and filled with colors.

Disney presents us with 1080p MPEG-4/AVC video transfer.  In all honesty, I expected more from this film.  This is not to say the image is bad by any means.  In fact, it is well above average.  It just lacks that extra polish that is expected for such a fantasy film.  There is plenty of color, however, it is a bit muted for a magical land.  The black levels a strong, with details not often lost in the deep blacks.  Shadow delineation is good, but at times it softens due to the overall image.  The details are where the image lacks.  With the CGI in the film, the overall image is softened.  The trees, bushes, rocks, all the backgrounds are slightly blurred.  There is not the greatest edge detail on all the leaves.  The night shots in the film also show apparent banding in the sky.  There is also a minimal layer of grain present throughout the film.  The video is excellent and I am nitpicking, but these couple of drawbacks prevents a higher rating.

The audio track is darn near perfect.  Disney gives us a DTS-HD 7.1 audio track.  Disney is the only studio that varies its audio formats between Dolby TrueHD, PCM, and DTS-HD.  The first time through I listened to the film on my standard 5.1 speaker setup and was simply astounded.  The second time through I busted out my two extra channels and set up my 7.1 system – and it was well worth it.  The extra two channels actually add numerous discrete effects and increase the spatial surroundscape.  The LFE support is strong, but not overpowering.  It is almost completely transparent.  The complete soundscape is filled to the fullest extent.  Discrete effects are present at all the crucial moments in the surround channels.  Better still, the ambiences is always present in the rear channels.  The soundscape is always enveloping, making it the first film in a long time that I have been immersed in.  There is a wide dynamic range, and I have to deduct part of the rating here.  The dynamic ranges so wide, that there a several times in which the dialogue drops to a near inaudible level – a level in which the words don’t clearly develop.  However, during all other times, the dialogue is crisp and clean.

This 3-disc Blu-ray edition of the film comes with two Blu-ray discs plus a standard DVD.  The first disc contains the film, along with a couple of additional features.  First, there is the BD-Live section, which features a movie chat, movie mail, and movie challenge.  Disney Movie Rewards are also accessed in this section.  Also on the first disc is a feature length audio commentary by director Andrew Adamson and actors Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skander Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell.  This is a lively and informative commentary.  The actors are given plenty of time to express their thoughts.  The other feature on the first disc is Circle-Vision Interactive: Creation the Castle Raid, which is exclusive to the Blu-ray release and gives you a 360 degree view of the castle onslaught.

The bulk of the special features are located on the second Blu-ray disc.  First up are the bloopers and deleted scenes.  These are interesting, but don’t fill in any of the gaps in the storyline.  “Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns” is the most extensive featurette, running about 35 minutes.  It contains much more than behind the scenes footage.  “Sets of Narnia: A Classic Comes to Life” explores the set design of the film.  “Big Movie Comes to a Small Town” is basically much like the Sets section, as it talks about specific filming locations.  “Previsualizing Narnia” talks about the design of the magical land.  “Talking Animals and Walking Trees: The Magical World of Narnia” covers the visual effects of the two film aspects.  “Secrets of the Duel” covers the one on one combat sequence between Peter and Miraz.  “Becoming Trumpkin” details how long it takes Peter Dinklage to be made into Trumpkin.  “Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik” covers Davis’ view on his character. (If Davis looks familiar, it is because he played the legendary Willow back in 1988.)

The final disc contains a Digital Copy of the film.

“The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” is an exemplary film.  It brings the magical world of Narnia and C.S. Lewis’ words to life.  The audio quality is just about as good as it gets and should not be missed.  The video quality has its issues, but it is still far beyond what most films give us.

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