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DVD Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (Blu-ray)
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The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
3-Disc Collector’s Edition Blu-ray
Directed by Andrew Adamson
Starring Ben Barnes, Anna Popplewell, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley, Peter Dinklage
Disney Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 2, 2008

The travesty of Disneyfication that surrounded the first wearying and child-like installment of C.S. Lewis’ seven-book series is still lurking somewhere in the shadows of the second adaptation, The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. The first half of the movie details the overthrow of Narnia by the ruthless Telmarine Empire, an army of men sporting perfectly-sculpted beards that scream EVIL! The Narnians have problems of their own. Their deceased king’s son, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), is next in line to inherit the throne, but the man who killed his father is his Uncle Miraz (played with abundant energy by Sergio Castellitto). Not only does Miraze want the throne for himself, he also intends for his newborn son to inherit it from him. Caspian is thus forced to flee from the medieval castle.

All four of the Pevensie children are back from the previous film, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. This time around they return to Narnia on a speeding train. One year has passed in their time, but 1,300 years in Narnia’s. They realize things are fishy when a starving bear doesn’t stop to have tea with them, but instead regards one of the Pevensie children as fresh meat. This isn’t Narnia anymore. The four meet up with Caspian, who used Queen Susan’s horn to call upon the Narnians to help him regain his rightful place on the throne, to stop the violence, and to restore Narnia’s wonder.

Director Andrew Adamson, also responsible for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, fools around most of the time with minor battle scenes and an introduction to those pesky Disney sidekicks: a little dwarf (Peter Dinklage), some Minotaurs, and a monotonous sword-swinging mouse (voiced by Eddie Izzard). Missing for the bulk of the movie is the film’s greatest character, the Jesus-like lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson). His absence leads to his followers not knowing what to do with themselves. We don’t either.

When the movie tries to fly, with some huge inevitable battle sequences that are supposed to be eye-popping and intense, it gets flogged back to Disneyland again, where the PG rating precludes any bloodshed. Cheesy one-liners are delivered as if they’re going out of style by a bunch of children that I still can’t buy as saviors of an enchanted land. One positive aspect that The Chronicles of Narnia franchise has going for itself is a well-buried, pulsating heart that seems ready to burst out of the family adventure it is constantly labeled as so it can explore new and darker territories. It started out much the same way that the Harry Potter franchise did, in which the third film experimented with troubled times… and it paid off. Let’s hope the same can be said for Narnia.

Blu-ray Features

PICTURE
Disney Studios is the lone studio that has always been consistent when it comes to churning out impeccable high-definition transfers. By no means is Prince Caspian an absorbing and enthralling motion picture, but thanks to this transfer viewers won’t be able to help themselves as they’re being swept up by Prince Caspian’s gorgeous wave of colors. The desire behind this Blu-ray disc can be seen, literally, throughout every scene as arrows plague the blue sky, swords slice through thin air, and horses gallop madly over the green landscapes. This is a magnificent Blu-ray that showcases great landscapes and great sound to go along with it. The fighting scenes, which there are a ton, aren’t as choppy or murky as some previously issued Blu-ray releases. Instead, Disney has taken the time to produce one of their greatest action films on Blu-ray right up there with the Pirates trilogy. Due to the jolting images, Prince Caspian relishes in being born again on Blu-ray disc and even one-upping its predecessor in the transfer department.

SPECIAL FEATURES

DISC 1: Blu-ray Exclusive

Circle-Vision Interactive: Creating the Castle Raid (HD): To give us a heads up about this feature (and trust me viewers will definitely need one) is director Andrew Adamson. Surely it’s a well suited introduction to a feature that has 35 short segments (the longest segment being about 8 minutes) that clarify who, what, when, where, and how the film’s biggest battle, the Castle Raid, took place. Spread across a 360 degree view of the inside castle are certain highlighters we can click to open up a new segment. Stills, graphics, pre-CGI, and scenes just using the Green Screen are all exemplified to show all the natural qualities that led to the battle being brought to life.

Commentary (HD): Director Andrew Adamson and actors Ben Barnes, George Henley, Skander Keynes, William Mosley, and Anna Popplewell provide commentary.

BD-Live: Share your comments along with your favorite scenes to other fans of the movie through Disney’s Blu-ray Live interface.

DISC 2

Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns (HD): 34min – Footage of behind-the-scenes highlight the film’s crew who, mostly, were all present during filming of The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe.

Sets of Narnia: A Classic Comes to Life (HD): 23 min – This feature can also be seen in one of the 35 segments of The Castle Raid feature. The production team explains why they chose to film in certain locations and why they built certain sets.

Big Movie Comes to a Small Town (HD): 23 min – The residents of a small town in Slovenia talk proudly about the film and its crew coming to film a major production.

Pre-visualizing Narnia (HD): 10 min – Director Adamson explains why and how he used special features to enhance the films action scenes; there are a lot of them.

Talking Animals and Walking Trees: The Magical World of Narnia (HD): 5 min – The film crew along with the cast discuss what their favorite animals are in the magical world of Narnia.

Deleted Scenes (HD): 11 min – Ten deleted scenes in total. Nothing that’s revelatory to the film’s final product.

The Bloopers of Narnia (HD): 3 min

Secrets of the Duel (HD): 6 min – The main duel between Peter and the King is discussed and explanations are stated on why director Adamson decided to switch the book’s duel scene to better suit a film version.

Becoming Trumpkin (HD): 5 min – Peter Dinklage discusses his role as Trumpkin.

Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik (HD): 11 min – Warwick Davis is a man who plays duel characters and he shares the experiences he has with going to and from the make-up room numerous of times.

DISC 3

A standard definition digital copy of the film is provided so buyers can transfer it to their computer and then their iPod.

Film: **1/2 out of ****
Features: *** out of ****
High Definition Transfer: ***1/2 out of ****

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