Thursday, May 29, 2008

Prince Caspian

If I had to describe my reaction to this movie in one word, it would be: Disappointed.

There's plenty to like about the movie and it is entertaining, but I just was not impressed. I imagine that if I weren't such a big fan of the book and didn't have such high expectations, then maybe I would have enjoyed it more. But as it stands, I really was just disappointed. (SPOILERS to follow, do not read ahead if you haven't seen the movie)

The first thing that seemed obvious to me was that these kids aren't very good actors. To be fair, I think it was probably poorly written dialogue rather than bad acting, but it felt forced and unbelievable. However, I could have lived with sub-par acting. After all, Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe didn't have spectacular acting, and I liked that one. It's not like you go see this movie for a chance to watch Oscar talent on the big screen.

I think the most disappointing thing for me was in the way the movie separated itself from the book. Characters and their relationships were changed (for the WORSE), and for no apparent reason (except maybe to add unnecessary drama).

I guess I'll just make a list of the things that pretty much ruined the movie for me. In order, here they are:

5) Doctor Cornelius. The doctor's role is greatly diminished, which was a huge disappointment to me, because he's such a great character. They literally could have just taken him out of this movie and it wouldn't have changed much. That's just poo, cause he's awesome in the book.

4) Battle of Beruna. I liked this battle scene the first ten times I saw it. How many times do we have to see large catapulting contraptions demolishing the undermanned hero? I admit that I liked the sinking earth trap, although it's a pretty ridiculous idea that would never really work.

The fighting trees were stupid too. Ents have been done before. They're supposed to be the nymphs and dryads who are more like giants with leafy arms. Why change this to something we've seen before? I didn't like the river god either, but at least the rushing water didn't turn into horses. And I was really hoping to see Bacchus make an appearance in this movie (he's actually the one who frees the river god). Another good scene wasted.

3) The Castle Siege. I admit that this was a good action scene, for the most part. But I don't understand how it helped develop the (original) story in the least. Sure, it helped to ruin Caspian's character, by pitting him against King Peter (which never happens in the book).

And I can guarantee you that if an army of minotaurs and centaurs came storming in, the people would die of fright. In the book, there is a real sense that the Telmarines FEAR Old Narnia. They had no idea that these creatures still existed. Every soldier would have peed his pants and dropped his sword. This scene just should not have been thrown in. It doesn't make sense and adds nothing to the story (at least as the story was originally written).

2) Reepicheep. Reepicheep is by far one of the most popular characters in all of Narnia. This movie did a terrible job of developing who he is. He was turned into some sort of caricature of himself. The scene at the end where he loses his tail is one of the best scenes in the book, but it was almost an afterthought in the movie. I bet if I hadn't read the book, the significance of that moment would be totally lost. Such a shame.

I hated that they threw in the "You're a mouse!" bit before he killed someone with one swipe to the nose. There are freaking griffins and goat-men running around, and you're going to be surprised at a mouse? And it was retarded having him single-handedly taking down grown men. That never happens in the book, and was just a joke in the movie.

And please tell me why they added the scene with the cat being tied up in the castle? AAAAAHHH! So stupid! "Ooh, look, it's the mouse's natural enemy: the castle cat. Come on guys, there's always enough time for a chivalrous mouse to find some rope somewhere and tie up a sleeping cat." Ugh.

1) Prince Caspian. I can't believe how much they botched up the title character. Mostly, it was because of his relationships with the other characters.

Let's start with Caspian and Miraz. So Caspian learns that Miraz killed his father, and runs through the castle (a-la Inigo Montoya), so he can avenge his father. In the book, he never seeks this vengeance (it doesn't fit his character). Rather surprisingly, he cannot bring himself kill good ol' Uncle Miraz. Shocker. That first scene was so dramatic, we get to see it again at the end of the movie. I really thought he was going to kill him that time, though.

Then there's Caspian and the Old Narnians. In the book, he's already gained their favor and is leading their army against King Miraz. He makes decisions and has character and leadership. It's only after their army is outmatched and as a last resort that he blows Susan's horn, and then the help comes. In the movie, there's none of that. Help comes almost by accident (because he doesn't even know what the horn is), and because he fell off his horse (being chased by Telmarines who somehow found the courage to follow him into a forest that is known to be haunted and hasn't been entered for centuries).

Then we have Caspian and King Peter. Darn that know-it-all King Peter, with his hair brained raid schemes. I have no idea why they felt the need to have some kind of bitter rivalry between these two kings. From what I remember, this isn't the case in the book and definitely not to the extent it was portrayed in this movie. That was almost as ridiculous as...

Caspian and Queen Susan. Seriously? I mean, seriously? Somebody explain this to me. If everything else in the movie was exactly like the book and was made perfectly, this would still have ruined it for me. So fake, so unbelievable, so unnecessary. Complete with the terrible "let's make money off of the music industry as well with our top 20 love ballad" at the end. I just laughed my way through every one of these "love" scenes. I don't see how anyone could have enjoyed the movie while having to endure this ridiculous addition. Stupidest. Decision. Ever.

This post turned out way longer than I expected. I could keep going, but I guess the point is, I just didn't see the need or the purpose of going so far away from the context of the book. If you need filler material for the movie, you have 1500 years of undocumented history that would make for awesome back-story (like the opening scene in the first LOTR trilogy). Why not go back and show the Telmarines first coming to Narnia and sending the Narnians into hiding? There's so much there you could use, which wouldn't change the original story.

Having said all that, if you don't really care about the books and how closely the movie follows them, you'll probably like this movie. It's entertaining with decent effects and definitely worth watching. But if you're a big fan of the books and character development and solid plot lines, you're probably going to be disappointed.


patrick said...

the makers of Prince Caspian kept to the original story surprisingly well... i heard they were going to make it into a silly pure-action flick, but thankfully this was not the case

Arthur said...

Patrick- I honestly can't tell if you're being serious, or if this is some sort of level. I'm guessing you went for sarcasm here.

Brian said...

Has to be sarcasm. You know what's funny? I completely agree with your review of Prince Caspian. Yet I only B-Rated it 3/10. WTF was I thinking? In hindsight, I should have given it 2 beratings for inconsistencies since it is so inconsistent with the book, but sadly I haven't read the book in so long that I didn't know (don't tell Rod). That would've brought the B-Rating down to 5/10, which is more suitable. I just might go back and edit my post...

Arthur said...

Your father would be ashamed. But seriously, it's not like it's a bad movie, I just couldn't stand the way characters were not further developed, or were completely changed (from the book).

Any great movie based on a book will follow the book as closely as possible. Just like LOTR and Shawshank Redemption (to name a few). I don't see why they felt the need to make so many changes, especially when their largest target audience is going to be people who are familiar with the books.

I still can't wait for Voyage of the Dawn Treader though.

Clara said...

I haven't read the book in a long time but #1, the acting was terrible; #2, the love scene was stupid; #3, all of the people's corny jokes (like the little dwarfs) were overwhelming; #4, I did like Aslan.

Did Josh already write all that stuff? I didn't read your whole post because there were so many words...I just read the comments. :)

Do any of us work? How come I keep seeing our comments and blog postings every hour? Haha.

Arthur said...

Clara- #1, I also liked Aslan in this one; #2, Who's Josh?; #3 You should try reading more; #4 You're never supposed to mention working or the lack of it on a blog.