REEL CRITIC:

When a much-publicized film lives up to all the media sensation and scrutiny, it makes for a pleasant result. Add in the complication that it's a sequel to an international hit, and the stakes are higher.

So it's nice to know that “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” certainly meets expectations. Film audiences who enjoyed the first entry in the C.S. Lewis series, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” and fans of the novel, should not be disappointed.

We return to the adventures of the Pevensie siblings, Peter (William Moseley), Susan (Anna Popplewell), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley), who are back in World War II England, having completed their original journey into Narnia.

While waiting for a train in the London Underground, they are transported back to Narnia, but find it much different from when they left, and all had royal titles, particularly Peter as the high king. Although it has been only one year for them, it is 1,300 years later in Narnia.

The Narnians have been driven from their kingdom and have taken refuge in the forest, with their castle ruled by Miraz (Sergio Castellitto), one of the Telmarines, who has seized the throne and driven away his nephew, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), the rightful heir. Caspian's tutor, Cornelius (Vincent Grass), has told him some of the history of Narnia, but has also left out many details, such as how Caspian's father really died.

Caspian is aided by Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage), whom Lucy affectionately — if not patronizingly — calls their DLF (for “Dear Little Friend”) because of his height, along with an assortment of mice, centaurs, bears and other creatures (most of whom talk) who agree to aid the prince in his battle to reclaim the kingdom and restore it to its former glory. They are greatly overmatched by the Telmarine army, led by General Glozelle (Pierfrancesco Favino), while Lucy tries to find Aslan the Lion (voiced by Liam Neeson) because she is the only one who has seen him.

As Trumpkin warns the siblings that Narnia is not as welcoming a place as they may remember, Aslan prophetically tells Lucy, “Things never happen the same way twice.”

This foreboding aura is also true of the film. While the first movie had a degree of chill from eternal winter and the White Witch, much of this one is set underground, in the forest and a castle governed by evil, and the production is appropriately dark in setting and tone.

The ominous musical score by Harry Gregson-Williams adds to their intensity. Even with a PG rating, some younger children may be scared of battle scenes.

Newcomer Barnes brings the proper nobility to his role as the prince, and his acting overshadows the publicity focused on his hair, although you may question why a British actor was cast as a character with a definitively Latin-based accent.

Director Andrew Adamson, also one of the screenwriters, has pulled all the elements together in a production with excellent cinematography, costumes and mythical character makeup. Add to the magic that a film that runs over two hours does not seem slow and keeps the audience thoroughly entertained in its many adventures.


?PHILLIP HAIN is a Glendale resident.

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