The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
For all their talk of staying true to the spirit of C. S. Lewis's novels, the makers of the Narnia films have frequently deviated from the books in ways both big and small, and the liberties they take with Prince Caspian—which echo but go far, far beyond the liberties they took with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe—both help the film and hurt it. They help because you can sense that co-writer and director Andrew Adamson is finally making the big epic fantasy battle movie that he really wanted to make the first time around, and his devotion to that vision holds Prince Caspian together and makes it a more consistent, and consistently entertaining, sort of film than Wardrobe was. But in steering the film closer to his own vision, Adamson steers it away from Lewis's, and so it loses some of the book's core spiritual themes.
The basic storyline is still there, though it has been re-arranged somewhat. Instead of beginning in England, with the four Pevensie children sitting at a train station, the film begins in Narnia, with a woman giving birth and a man, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), being woken in the middle of the night and told that he must flee for his life. It turns out the woman in question is Caspian's aunt, and she has just given birth to a son, and this gives her husband, Lord Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), the opportunity he needs to seize the throne that has been vacant ever since Caspian's father died. But first Caspian has to hide—in a wardrobe!—from assassins with crossbows who enter his room only to find that he is not in bed. And then he has to ride, ride, ride into the night while being pursued by several of Miraz's soldiers.
Meanwhile, back in England, the four Pevensie children are getting ready to go back to school. One year has passed since their adventures in Narnia, and they are still getting used to the fact that they are no longer grown-up kings and queens of some far-off magical land but, rather, children who still have to deal with kids their own age. Peter (William Moseley), in particular, resents the fact that he is no longer High King, and he is all too eager to get into fights with other boys—fights that he apparently cannot win until his younger brother Edmund (Skandar Keynes) steps in and bails him out. But then, far away in Narnia, Caspian calls for help by blowing on the magic horn that once belonged to Queen Susan (Anna Popplewell), and suddenly the four Pevensie children find themselves whisked away to their former castle. (It's worth noting that this time, they're whisked from an underground tube station, rather than from an "empty, sleepy, country station," as in the book—a change which Lewis scholar Devin Brown finds problematic.)
However, while only one year has gone by in our world, over a thousand years have passed in Narnia, and so the castle that once belonged to the Pevensies is now in ruins. What's more, it turns out that the humans who now rule Narnia—a race known as the Telmarines—have driven the magical creatures of Narnia so deep into hiding that many people simply assume that the minotaurs, centaurs and other creatures are nothing more than "fairy tales." Even the Narnians themselves have lost their magic. One of the things this movie gets very right is the dismay Lucy (Georgie Henley) feels when she realizes the trees no longer "dance" the way they used to, or the way Susan—who had difficulty believing in talking animals in the first film—is now caught off-guard by the sight of a bear that doesn't talk.