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HTF BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

Blu-ray Reviews

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#1 of 12 Matt Hough

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Posted November 24 2008 - 03:08 PM



The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Blu-ray)
Directed by Andrew Adamson

Studio: Disney
Year: 2008
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 1080pAVC codec
Running Time: 149 minutes
Rating: PG
Audio: DTS-HA MA 7.1 English; Dolby Digital 5.1 French, Spanish, others
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, others
Region: A
MSRP: $ 40.99

Release Date: December 2, 2008
Review Date: November 24, 2008


The Film

3.5/5

The second installment in the continuing series of The Chronicles of Narnia is subtitled Prince Caspian, and though he is a new character amid a host of others, you’d be hard pressed to find much else different between the two movies given that the majority of the new film like the previous one involves a number of intricate battles to reclaim Narnia from its oppressors. That sameness in tone and tome between the two movies lends a déjà vu banality to the proceedings which the massive production values, expert special effects, and appealing actors can only go so far in thwarting. On its own Prince Caspian is entertaining enough, but hopefully future sequels will find something else to plot besides endless variations on the same battles.

A year after returning to wartime London after reigning in Narnia as kings and queens for a generation, Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Peter (William Moseley), and Susan (Anna Popplewell) Pevensie are summoned back to Narnia to aid young Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) in retaking his rightful throne from his treacherous uncle Lord Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) who has killed Caspian’s father and usurped the crown now that he has a male heir of his own. Caspian and Miraz are a part of the Telmarine race who took over Narnia shortly after the Pevensies went back to London, and over the generations (Caspian is the tenth successive Telmarine prince) the creatures of Narnia were banished to the forest and thought to be extinct. Led by Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage) and other assorted dwarves, mice, badgers, centaurs, and other mystic creatures, the war is on again to free Narnia for all.

Because the battles are of primary importance this second go-round (very little time for the charming and fascinating character interactions such as those between Lucy and Mr. Tumnus in the first film), much of the 149-minute running time is given over to a night raid on the Telmarine castle (the best single sequence in the picture) which initiates the all-out war between the Telmarines and the Narnians which then accelerates in three stages of combat. As is customary in these kinds of cinematic battles, there are surprises sprung on the enemy (and on us who aren‘t privy to all of the planning), and director Andrew Adamson stages and films them with attention to detail, always maintaining a clear perspective on who’s winning and who’s losing at any given moment. Some other special effects work is handled erratically, however. There’s a gorgeously swirling cloud of dogwood blossoms that absolutely mesmerizes while the climactic river god sequence isn’t the overwhelming effects extravaganza its makers might have wished it to be.

Having aged into their roles, the four young actors playing the Pevensie children are just as appealing this time around if not more so with fewer adolescent tantrums and childish pranks for the audience to endure. Ben Barnes doesn’t quite have the charisma necessary for the monarch-to-be, and he seems a trifle stiff in his delivery of both lines and action. Sergio Castellitto is on solid ground as the scheming villain, and his second -in-command General Glozelle is played with much stature by Pierfrancesco Favino. The always excellent Peter Dinklage makes the best addition to the Narnian side of the fighting. Both the majestic lion Aslan (Liam Neeson) and the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) from the first film turn up as well in this outing but in much less showy roles than before.


Video Quality

5/5

The film’s 2.40:1 theatrical aspect ratio is delivered on this Blu-ray disc in 1080p using the AVC codec. Despite some minor, irritating fluctuations of flesh tones during the movie, the overall quality of the image is quite awesome, easily equal to the picture quality of the first film’s high definition transfer. Color is majestically saturated without blooming, and black levels are impressively deep with superb shadow detail in the darkest corridors of the castle and in the recesses of the forest. A grand sense of dimensionality is consistent throughout the lengthy film, and no digital artifacts were observed. The film has been divided into 22 chapters.

Audio Quality

5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 soundtrack is everything one could wish for in an action-adventure thriller such as this one. Bass is incredibly deep, and the seven surround channels are interestingly designed with ambient sounds and Harry Gregson-Williams' score woven through them on a continual basis.


Special Features

4.5/5

The audio commentary once again belongs to director Andrew Adamson and his four stars Georgie Henley, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell, and Skandar Keynes. Because the children are older now, there is less giggling and generally irritating behavior as they reminisce about the filming of the movie. It’s an enjoyable and full talk, somewhat nostalgic for two of the actors who won’t be returning for the next installment in the series.

All of the bonus features on both discs one and two are presented in 1080p.

Exclusive to Blu-ray is the Circle-Vision Interactive, a viewer selected series of featurettes, vignettes, pop-up facts, and audio commentary about all facets of the production but specifically dealing with the castle raid sequence. There are actually thirty-five separate featurettes lasting from 1 to 8 minutes dealing with the film (some of the material is repeated in bonus features on disc two). There is also a handy index to use in case you have skipped any of the features in this interactive environment.

The disc is equipped with BD-Live which includes a Narnia game which can be played on-line with other users and a series of downloadable features for the younger members of the family.

The disc offers previews of Pinocchio and Earth, among others.

Disc two in the set contains a host of bonus featurettes and Easter Eggs.

“Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns” is the set’s “making of” documentary, a 34 ¾-minute look into the differences between the two Narnia movies, the heightened sense of importance and the extended number of locations in the second film, a greater emphasis on stunts, the size of the cast, the special effects needed for the film, and the changes in the young actors from the first film to the second.

“Sets of Narnia: A Classic Comes to Life” is precisely what the title infers: 23 ¾ minutes of specific information on nine different set locations used in the making of the movie.

“Big Movie Comes to a Small Town” is a loving tribute to the village of Bovec, Slovenia, which housed the company for 2 ½ weeks of shooting the climactic river/bridge sequence. This featurette runs 23 ¼ minutes.

“Previsualizing Narnia is a 10-minute vignette on the use of storyboards and computer animated Pre-Vis all done before any actual shooting took place.

“Talking Animals and Walking Trees” is a too-brief featurette on the importance of nature in both the stories and in real life and some information on how the film came up with its talking creatures.

There are 10 deleted scenes which can be viewed separately or in one 11 ¼-minute bunch. Each is introduced by director Andrew Adamson with explanations as to why it was dropped.

There is a 3-minute blooper reel much of it involving various actors falling down or losing balance during moments of action.

“Secrets of the Duel” spends 6 ¾ minutes discussing the months of training that various actors in the film went through to be ready for their battle sequences, particularly William Moseley and Sergio Castellitto for their intense one-on-one combat scene.

“Becoming Trumpkin” introduces us to actor Peter Dinklage who plays the beloved character in the film. It’s a 4 ¾-minute tribute.

Similar in nature is “Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik.” We spend a 16-hour working day with the actor as he gets into his elaborate three hour make-up and wardrobe for his day’s work. This feature lasts 11 minutes.

I found four Easter Eggs on disc two (there are likely many more) covering such subjects as the assistant director describing his work, a monster cam video, a brief word from Shane Ragni (a suit actor), and three of the four young stars goofing off between takes.

Disc three in the set is Disney File, Disney’s version of digital copy for downloading to a PC or Mac device.


In Conclusion

4/5 (not an average)

Though its tale is overly familiar, the heart and spirit of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian still make for an entertaining blend of story and spectacle. The Blu-ray is an outstanding achievement, one fans of the books and the movies will most certainly want to add to their collections.


Matt Hough
Charlotte, NC

#2 of 12 Neil Joseph

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Posted November 25 2008 - 12:45 AM

I have seen this twice since I picked it up, and yes, the PQ is great particularly the landscapes, the chain link armor and vibrant colours. Liked the film better on second viewing too.

Thanks for the review.
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#3 of 12 Joseph J.D

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Posted November 25 2008 - 01:28 AM

I saw this film one time on a smaller screen in the weeks following it's release. I loved the film but was unimpressed with the way that it got lost in the shuffle among all the other big releases as well as the inferior presentation at the theatre I was at.

I really look forward to getting the 3-disc version......watching it on my meagre setup will be a welcome improvement. Posted Image
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#4 of 12 Chris Will

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Posted November 25 2008 - 03:14 AM

Looking forward to this release as I enjoyed this film more then the first. One thing that bothered me though was that is was suppose to be only one year later for the children but they have clearly age more then that (being that it was 3 years ago since the last film). I've never understood why they didn't just change it for the movie and say it had been 3 years or even 2 but, 1 year was just not believable with who much older the kids looked. I've never read the books but I don't think the number of years would change the plot too much. oh well, minor gripe but, if they continue the trend then it will bother me much more in future installments.

#5 of 12 Arild

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Posted November 25 2008 - 06:11 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Will
I've never read the books but I don't think the number of years would change the plot too much.
IIRC, the book never even states how much time had passed since The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe. So yeah, I think I'll agree with this.

#6 of 12 MatthewLouwrens

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Posted November 26 2008 - 09:36 PM

Out of curiosity, I decided to watch the opening few minutes with the audio description track turned on. I was amused when, a couple of minutes into the film, Cornelius is seen entering Caspian's room to tell him to escape, the narrator describes him as a "tall, broad-shouldered figure". There are many words you could use to describe Cornelius. Tall is not one of them.
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#7 of 12 Arild

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Posted November 27 2008 - 07:09 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by MatthewLouwrens
There are many words you could use to describe Cornelius. Tall is not one of them.
LOL! Good point. Posted Image

#8 of 12 Chris S

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Posted November 27 2008 - 07:15 AM

Thanks for the review! Looking forward to picking this one up on Tuesday.
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#9 of 12 Mike Frezon

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Posted November 27 2008 - 01:12 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Will
Looking forward to this release as I enjoyed this film more then the first. One thing that bothered me though was that is was suppose to be only one year later for the children but they have clearly age more then that (being that it was 3 years ago since the last film). I've never understood why they didn't just change it for the movie and say it had been 3 years or even 2 but, 1 year was just not believable with who much older the kids looked. I've never read the books but I don't think the number of years would change the plot too much. oh well, minor gripe but, if they continue the trend then it will bother me much more in future installments.

Chris:

It's been awhile since I've read the books (and I haven't seen Prince Caspian yet), but for one thing, the children can only do so much growing over the course of time of the seven adventures (books). Although they are not featured in all the books, they are featured in #1 & #7 and their age is of definite importance in how things play out near the end--especially considering Susan's case

If you have been enjoying the films...I heartily recommend the books. Personally, I've was lukewarm on the first film and will be seeing the second after the distribution of the Blu-ray version. The books have all been read and re-read, however, and are quite magical indeed.

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#10 of 12 WadeM

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Posted December 02 2008 - 03:49 AM

The 2 disc and 3 disc versions are the same price at Amazon, so I went ahead and picked up the 3 disc, although I won't be using the 3rd disc anytime soon.

I thought this was a very well-done sequel, and was sad to hear that theater sales were disappointing. I would love to see all 7 movies made.

#11 of 12 Will_B

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Posted December 28 2008 - 06:08 AM

Does anyone know about this?

"The Chronicles of Narnia Blu-ray Bundle (Amazon Exclusive) [Blu-ray]"

The descriptions says it includes 2 discs, but since both movies had 2 or 3 discs each, isn't it really 4 discs (or 5)?

It is a good price, but if they've dropped the bonus discs then it is not.
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#12 of 12 Sanjay Gupta

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Posted December 28 2008 - 06:52 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Will_B
Does anyone know about this?

"The Chronicles of Narnia Blu-ray Bundle (Amazon Exclusive) [Blu-ray]"

The descriptions says it includes 2 discs, but since both movies had 2 or 3 discs each, isn't it really 4 discs (or 5)?

It is a good price, but if they've dropped the bonus discs then it is not.
The bundle is a simple wrapping together of the two regular 2 disc versions of the the two movies. Thus, they are in actuallity a total of 4 discs. I personally got the bundle for $37.99

By the way I personally enjoyed the second movie far more than the first one. Ofcourse I am sure the excellent audio/video quality must have made a difference to in the final experience.
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