The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe got all manner of marketing buzz and viewers, but when Prince Caspian hit theaters, it didn’t seem to get quite the same level of either. In this sequel, the kingdom of Narnia has been conquered by the Telmarines, a band of humans content to pilfer the land of its natural resources rather than sustain it. They have pushed the Narnians so far into a forested exile that Aslan and his people are thought extinct. Every structure that was once pristine and grand has been reduced to ruins resembling those found in Fable 2 on Xbox 360. And like that sequel, this movie, which has just released on Blu-ray Disc, just seems to be missing a little something.
Prince Caspian is by no means a bad film, despite its flaws and inability to stand out from its fantasy peers. Fans will like watching Peter evolve into a stronger King, Susan into a sexual young woman, Edmund into an unselfish savoir and Lucy into Narnia’s last hope for survival. You now, all in a day’s work. Blu-ray fans, too, will appreciate what Disney has packaged into The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian.
The widescreen AVC transfer is only a hair shy of perfection, with rich and deep colors, sharp detail and phenomenal clarity. Black levels are equally impressive, and shadow details are strong, only giving in slightly to a trace of crush under fire-lit scenes set underground. Nor does Disney mess around with its 7.1 surround-sound mix. The DTS-HD 7.1 mix is everything you’d want from an audio track: the surround channels are alive with activity, the bass digs deep and the finest nuances are never lost. The balance of screeches, thuds and crackling of tiles ripping off from the station’s walls is evenly dispersed between all seven channels of the mix.
All the bonus features are presented in full 1080p AVC MPEG-4 encoded high definition and spread across the first and second discs with optional subtitles. On Disc One, things kick off with Circle-Vision Interactive: Creating the Castle Raid (a Blu-ray Exclusive) in which a menu allows for 10 viewing options of the Castle Raid sequence, each from a different crew member (from producer to stunt coordinator to special-effects creator). The audio commentaries are spoken over the entire Castle Raid sequence and provide six unique takes on what it took to make the scene come together. The other four selections provide a unique full 360-degree horizontal view of the set. You can rotate through 25 percent of the set at once and make selections including behind-the-scenes footage and fun facts on each segment of the set.
Amazingly, there’s also a Commentary by Director Andrew Adamson and Actors Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell. Adamson takes the lead and narrates what’s going on in the film with random tidbits while the five kids chime in with their own take on scenes and filmmaking experiences. This commentary might have been more fun if Adamson stepped aside and let the kids run the show. While Adamson isn’t afraid to be humorous at times, his dryness and presence as “the boss” subdues the kids’ participation.
Disc Two continues the supplemental features, all of which are presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns (34:45) pays tribute to Prince Caspian’s crew, the majority of whom worked on The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. They came in as an established family from the first Narnia film and were able to use that camaraderie to move swiftly and efficiently through a complex shoot. Most of the footage is behind-the-scenes as opposed to film clips which makes this a necessary stop for Narnia fans.
Sets of Narnia: A Classic Comes to Life (23:44) is, as the name implies, a feature about the sets. It was a challenge for the filmmakers to design the sets due to the lack of description in the books. Sets of Narnia explores the locations chosen for the shoot and explains why they were a perfect fit to bring the book to life.
Big Movie Comes to a Small Town (23:19) discusses the tiny town of Bovec, Slovania, whose residents talk about the film crew coming to town and why they believe their town was chosen. It then moves into the logistical challenges of moving a large crew into a small isolated space for shooting, very similar to the challenges the crew of Pirates of the Caribbean faced shooting in exotic locations as presented on those Blu-ray Discs.
Pre-visualizing Narnia (10:09) provides an inside look by Adamson at the extensive work that went on before photography began. Talking Animals and Walking Trees: The Magical World of Narnia (4:51), meanwhile, is a brief featurette in which the cast and crew talk of their favorite animal creatures from the first and second Narnia films and the ecological statement the film makes.
Deleted Scenes w/Optional Director Audio Intro (11:15) includes 10 deleted scenes. Nothing in these scenes effects the story, so seeing them for the first time isn’t going to reveal anything massive, but seeing the rudimentary effects, especially for the Centaurs, is more intriguing than any of the new material. As for The Bloopers of Narnia (3:06), though…they would have worked a lot better without the cheery background score.
In Secrets of the Duel (6:46), the filmmakers break down the choreography of the duel between Peter and King Miraz. The “ring” where the combatants square off was re-designed from the book’s description to provide a design better suited for filming. Cool to see how the suits are broken down over the course of the fight as designed by the wardrobe crew.
Becoming Trumpkin (4:48) les viewers hear from veteran little people actor Peter Dinklage, who cracks one straightforward joke after another while discussing his role as Trumpkin. Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik (11:08) features a man who’s arguably better known, as he played Wicket the Ewok in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. He’s in and out of the make-up chair a lot and gets more dialogue opportunities for his feature than Peter did.
I tempered my expectations for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, as I figured it would suffer from sequelitis. In many respects it does, but Prince Caspian certainly has plenty to offer in its own right, though I don’t anticipate watching it again. Those feelings aside, Disney has bestowed Prince Caspian with an amazing high-definition presentation and roster of bonus features.
Click the following link to buy The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian on Blu-ray from Amazon.
- Score: 8.7