A follow-up to the 2005 special effects masterpiece The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardbrobe, Prince Caspian is a wonderful follow-up. While not as well put together as the first, with some unintentional humor, unnecessarily lengthy exposition, and odd directional choices, there are enough thrills and eye candy to recommend this second go-around for the series.
Returning to Narnia after a year-long absence, the four kids who inadvertently discovered the land are swept back into it to play their role in an upcoming war. Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, and Georgie Henley all reprise their roles with care. The energy in the fights is incredible given their relatively young ages.
Scenes of the children rediscovering the land fail to have the intrigue of the original film. As they explore the ruins from 1300 years of damage in Narnia time, these scenes offer little in the way of necessary information. There is easily 20 minutes of content that could have been cut from the film as a whole, dropping it to around a more reasonable two hours.
The slow build-up to the action-packed and amazingly violent (for a PG-rated film) action scenes is mostly handled well however. The story, however simplistic, offers enough intrigue and the wild cast of characters does well to engage the audience. Given the time elapsed since the previous Narnia adventure, the majority of the characters are new, giving this sequel a fresh feel.
Visual effects, although spotty at times, are remarkable. Full CG characters are brought to life via believable animation. Suit work is also aided by CG, though done in a way that the seams are impossible to detect. The massive battle scenes feel familiar after Lord of the Rings, while the direction from Andrew Adamson keeps them entertaining and exciting. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Movie]
The original Narnia was a reference quality disc, and Caspian has little trouble living up to that expectation. This razor sharp HD presentation is loaded with detail (Aslan is a sight to see), bringing the immense care put into the costumes to the forefront. Black levels are incredibly rich, ensuring even the murkiest scenes inside caves maintain a sense of depth. Color is bold without being oversaturated. [xrr rating=5/5 label=Video]
Disney goes all out with a DTS-HD 7.1 mix for the film. While non-action scenes are relatively sparse in terms of their audio presentation, the action truly delivers. The battlefield pushes plenty of bass, especially as the army marches towards their goal. Arrows, horses, and heads (yes, in a PG film) fly through the sound field with stunning accuracy.
It’s impressive how well this disc tracks audio. It’s a shame the dialogue sequences offer so little ambience, and since there’s far more of those than action, it’s somewhat of a letdown. Forests should sound alive. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
A commentary leads off this two-disc set (three if you consider the digital copy), featuring director Andrew Adamson and much of his main cast. CircleVision is an annoyingly done featurette piece. Here, you select from a stack of featurettes or scene-specific commentaries about the castle raid sequence. Unfortunately, there’s so much of this content, and it’s laid out so poorly, it’s impossible to know if you’ve found it all. Also, BD-Live features are included, but locked up the PS3 every time they were accessed.
Disc two is the featurette disc. There are eight of them in total, running about two hours. There are some wonderful ones on the make-up process, although the longer ones tend to be on the promotional side of things. Eleven minutes of deleted scenes feature an intro by Adamson, and a fun little blooper reel last for three minutes.
Note that a star is being knocked off purely for the idiotic layout of the CircleVision feature. It’s great content, but accessing it is far too much of a hassle to make it worth your time. On top of that, many of these are short, further making the layout a pain. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Extras]