The second installment in C.S. Lewis’s 1950s seven-part Narnia series may not have all the magical wonder of its predecessor, but it definitely delivers with top-notch special effects, a darker storyline, and themes that will resonate with faith-filled moviegoers, ultimately offering a more sophisticated movie experience.
Some twelve months have passed since Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy left Narnia, but it has been over 1,200 years in this land where the evil White Witch once ruled. After saving a dwarf named Trumpkin, they are disillusioned to the reality that the Narnia they remember filled with friendly, talking animal creatures has changed dramatically. He informs them that “you may find Narnia a more savage place than you remember.” Turns out the creatures of Narnia have been driven to hide underground by the Telemarines, who are decendants of pirates and are led by an evil man named Miraz, who killed Prince Caspian’s father and drove him into hiding for fear of his life and is now attempting a genocide on the inhabitants of Narnia.
While faith and sacrifice were major themes in the first film, it’s faith and loss that are major themes in this story. These four Pevensie children must deal with the loss of their childhood innocence after returning to find their beloved Narnia in near ruins. As their innocence evaporates, so does some of their faith. Doubt enters the picture. Even some inhabitants of Narnia begin to question whether Aslan is still good and cares for their well-being.
It is the youngest, Lucy, who is strongest in her faith. She claims to see Aslan and nobody believes her. Prince Caspian joins forces with these young kings and queens of Narnia to wage war on their foe. Lucy asks everyone to wait for Aslan to show up, but Peter decides he can lead the attack. Lucy tells him to remember “whose power really killed the White Witch.” The film continues its darker turn as their attack without Aslan’s help results in retreat and major loss of life.
Learning their lesson, they encourage Lucy to find Aslan. Once she does, he asks what took her so long and she explains “the others didn’t believe me.” Aslan asks, “why did you let that stop you from coming to me?” Lucy’s character portrays the struggle of all believers who often must go against the tide of popular belief, especially what their friends and family think, in order to follow what they deeply believe.
Aslan does choose to still intervene and help defeat Narnia’s enemies. The film’s glorious battle scenes (though slightly reminiscent of The Two Towers) and polished special effects (a notable improvement over the original) warrant anyone seeing this film. It squeaks by with a PG rating despite some Braveheart-esque fights that send some evil heads rolling, though without all the blood and gore. Plus, the introduction of a cute, sword-fighting mouse for comic relief never hurts. This is an adventure pic with a message and a purpose that the whole family can enjoy.