Given director Andrew Adamson’s background in family-friendly fare (Shrek), how odd is it that his strength as a director lies in managing long battle sequences? Yet, there it is; he makes the two sustained fights—an assault on a castle and the massive final conflict—in this sequel to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe exciting without being gory. His knack for spectacle almost saves Prince Caspian from its lack of connection with the main characters. The four Pevensie children return to Narnia via a Potter-esque magical subway station, only to find that a thousand years have passed, and a bunch of evil Telmarines have driven all talking animals into hiding. The kids teach the rightful royal heir, Caspian (Barnes), that Narnians are people too, and that his uncle is an usurping jerk.
Adamson adjusts to the darker tone nicely, but the kids, so richly drawn in the first film, often seem to be carried along in the wake of the chugging plot. When we are told, near the end, that Peter and the elder Pevensie girl, Susan (Popplewell), have learned a lot from this adventure, it’s unclear exactly what those lessons might be. Something about battle tactics, perhaps?
Cast and crew