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 ...1