Saturday, May 17, 2008



PRINCE CASPIAN is the latest of this summers big releases. This is the second movie in the Narnia series based on the C. S. Lewis stories in THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA. I should point out to those of you who are not familiar with THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA that it consists of really seven separate stories. The first movie, THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, was based on the second story in the series. It was released in 2005 and won 1 Oscar and was nominated for two others. PRINCE CASPIAN, based on the 4th story in the series stars the same four main characters from the first movie, Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie, Skandar Keynes as Edmund Pevensie, William Moseley as Peter Pevensie and Anna Popplewell as Susan Pevensie.

PRINCE CASPIAN wastes no time with recaps or character building. It assumes you are already familiar with the story line and characters from the first film. With that out of the way, the story wastes no time in getting started. The story is age old, a young prince is going to be overthrown by the evil pretender to the throne and flees for his life to find a way to get back his throne and overthrow the evil usurper. Our young heroes are summoned back to Narnia, which in Narnia years is 1300 years since they were last there, but only one year in their time scale. They are the Kings and Queens of Old.

That’s all I’ll mention of the plot and story line. I don’t want to spoil it for everyone.

The movie is well done, like the first; I’d even say it was done better. The makeup and special effects are wonderful. There are a ton of different characters both human and non-human, but I have to say that the mice have the best lines!

The movie is directed by Andrew Adamson, who also directed THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, SHERK and SHREK 2. Adamson was also a writer in both Narnia films and SHREK 2 and SHREK THE THIRD. After you have seen this film, you will notice that there is a slight resemblance between Reepicheep the mouse in PRINCE CASPIAN and Puss ‘n Boots in SHREK. That is no accident as Adamson has stated that he developed the character of Puss from the Reepicheep character in Narnia, except for a few subtle differences. Interesting trivia.

The movie runs 146 minutes, the first movie ran 145, and the time flies. There are just a few spots where the story drags a bit, but other than that it’s pretty non-stop.

The CGI characters are all wonderful. Computer animation has come a long way. I did have some problems with the centaurs though. The centaurs in the Harry Potter films are 100% CGI, if I remember correctly. The centaurs in Narnia are actors with CGI added for the hind sections. This is quite a feat to do and it is done very well for the most part, but still, there are a lot of scenes where the centaurs are always facing directly to the audience to hide their hind sides. I found that obvious and a bit annoying. But, I’m far too critical here, I’m sure. I also wish that the centaurs had a bigger role in the dialog. There are lots of centaurs, but very few lines for them. I see them as far too important characters to be left out.

The other thing that bothered me was the acting of the William Moseley (Peter Pevensie). He just didn’t do it for me. He came off as to strained and phony, but, hey, I’m a critic, right? But, that is made up for with the mice. I just love what they did to the cat!

But, despite it all, I found PRINCE CASPIAN a well done, exciting and entertaining film. For non-Narnia fans, I’d give it an 8 out of 10 since you don’t know what it’s all about. For Narnia fans, I’ll give it a 9 out of 10. If you’re a fan or not, read the books!!

Friday, May 2, 2008



Ok, the first of the summer “blockbusters” is out, IRON MAN, in the latest version of Marvel Comics takes over Hollywood. IRON MAN is based on the Marvel Comics super hero and I must say plays true to the true super-hero philosophy. Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) is a wealthy brainchild industrialist/scientist/protégé like his father before him. He owns Stark Industries, which is a huge corporation that builds military weapons. The cast also includes Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) as the #2 in the corporation, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) as Stark’s assistant, and a host of well cast bad guys.

The movie starts right off with our hero being captured by insurgents in Afghanistan who insist that he build them a copy of a new weapon he has developed. Then the film goes back to what led to the present situation. With that done, we come back to the present situation, Stark’s escape from the insurgents by building the Iron Man prototype (not giving anything away here, it’s in the previews!) and return to the good old USA.

Once home, Stark has had a change of heart in what direction his corporation, and his life, has been going in and wants to make changes, but the board of directors (those always nasty unscrupulous people) want to lock him out. So, he spends his spare time building and perfecting his Iron Man suit, since he has nothing else to do.

There are great sequences during the building and testing of the suit where Stark’s only friends are his computer and all the robotic helpers with which Stark carries on constant conversations with a lot of great shtick. Stark’s first venture into the real world is a great sequence and makes you want more.

This movie is fun, with more than ample special effects that are very well done, a lot of sight gags, a lot of great dialog, and a lot of great cars. The cast, as mentioned before is well cast and Downey is a perfect fit for the part of Stark. Other good supporting cast include Shaun Toub as Yinsen (the assistant during his capture) and Faran Tahir as Raza (the bald bad guy). The only character I didn’t like was Col. Jim Rhodes (Terrence Howard), who was supposed to be Stark’s friend, but his character was never developed or relationship really established. To me he just seemed to get in the way.

I have to mention that I do not recall a single profanity is this movie and the “romance” was limited to one brief scene only to develop part of Stark’s personality and playboy image at the time. That’s refreshing.

I certainly won’t say that this is the blockbuster of the summer … we still have the new Batman movie, Wall-E, Indiana Jones, Journey to The Center of the Earth, to mention just a few, yet to come. But, I will say this is a fun movie and great entertainment. I am torn between giving this a 9 or a 10, but my humble rating system says I’ll give it a 10. By the way, I just LOVED the ending!!! I’m sure there will be sequels.