I heard some reviews on this film that said it wasn't as moving or as good as the first.
To me, that makes perfect sense. Frankly, Prince Caspian was one of the low points of the book series, too. The only one I like less is The Horse and His Boy, and while I know people who just absolutely loved that one, I've never heard anybody claim Caspian as their favorite of the series.
Still, it's an essential part of the story -- if only because you have to get through it in order to get to the Dawn Treader (yayz) -- and the movie did its very best to correct for the things that made the book such a trudge. For one thing, changing the way Lucy kept seeing Aslan, and shortening that godawful trip through the woods (it's boring in the book for a very good reason, but I was just as happy to see it trimmed).
Things they changed that I liked:
I was thrilled to see all of the politicking going on behind the scenes of the Telmarine court, the scenes with the counselors and with the general. The motivations of most Telmarine characters in the books are kept pretty opaque; for the most part, they are a faceless army. I don't always like gratuitous fleshing out of evil characters, but this stuff was a good idea, to my mind. It also made the single-combat scene at the end SO much clearer... when the inevitable betrayal happened, it was so easy to see why. And when the General decides at the end to go through the doorway, you know who he is, and why he'll do well.
I really liked the fact that the failed attempt on the fortress drew all of the Telmarine court together in a war effort. Don't remember ANYTHING like that happening in the book, but it made perfect sense.
I suffered a sharp geeky thrill when the Telmarines used a phalanx in the battle scene.
I liked it that they let Susan fight. And here's where the main flaw in Caspian comes... C.S. Lewis, having so adamantly declared and decided that in Narnia, women shouldn't fight in wars, boxed himself in when it came to Prince Caspian, which is essentially a novel about a war of attrition. The movie omitted the part with an actual siege in it... well, hey, sieges are pretty boring, that's why they're sieges, so I guess I can forgive that. But the point is, since Lewis had left nothing for the girls to do what with all this warring going on, he just sent them off to look for Aslan. And then when they find him? They do several things. They break up the bridge at Beruna (during a battle? Oh no, just for the fun of it, really). They wake up the trees. They amble about the countryside, finding people who are bummed about the Telmarine occupation, and invite them to join in their ambling. And then they have a BIG party, where the soils that the trees eat are described in great detail.
Later they sort of amble into the war that the other guys are just about killing themselves fighting. "Sorry, guys! Had to party!"
Let's just say I preferred the movie's version better. Send Lucy out... she's got the best link to Aslan and the least battle ability... and have her BRING Aslan back to the front with a bunch of really pissed off Nature at their heels. Bring up the River Lord when you've got actual Telmarines on the bridge. More action, less frolicking. And if you're going to give Susan a bow, let her use the thing. And since we have decided, as a fanworld, that we like kickass archery (anybody else tired of seeing the archer yank an arrow out of one foe and use it to stab another one? Me neither), let her also pwn all over the bad guys with her mad skillz.
The little side conflict between Peter and Edmund (not to mention the strangely pissy and adolescent High King, where did he come from?) added some nice scenes to the story, even if not precisely necessary.
I was thrilled to see the use of the White Witch again. Yay Tilda Swinton! Looking frozenly fabulous, of course. And the werewolf and witch who brought her back... I was very happy with how positively skin-crawling they were.
LOTS OF FIGHTING. Good fighting. I liked the fighting.
Other stuff that I liked:
I keep forgetting that Caspian is a Telmarine. And really, the books have no good way of emphasizing that... the Telmarines are sort of distinguished by their pointy helmets, pointy beards, and the fact that they're on the wrong side. The movie had resources the book lacked: he looked and sounded foreign. It was different from how I'd pictured him, but it felt right, and it also aided in the scene where the animals are expressing their distrust of him.
But while I liked Caspian a lot, and while he sure was fun to look at, the entire movie was stolen by another character, and that would be... Reepicheep.
Specifically, Eddie Izzard as Reepicheep.
And all of the awesome scenes containing Reepicheep.
Did I mention... Reepicheep? Because if there was ever a Narnian character who was made of win, it would be Reep. The only problem I ever have with Reep is that I keep forgetting he's a mouse and thinking he's a rat instead. Which is entirely my own fault and does not diminish the awesomeness of the Reep in any way.
Things I was unsure about:
Note that I don't say "Things I didn't like", because there really weren't any. But there were a few things that had me scratching my head a little.
I guess I'm okay with Susan and Caspian macking on each other (particularly considering that Susan is now what can be termed "Abruptly Boobalicious"), and the way it contrasted with the attentions of boys back home. I'm trying to remember if there was any tension between them in the book, and I'm thinking probably not. Lewis didn't really work that way. But I dunno. It seemed like kind of an afterthought.
I wish the River God guy had gotten to talk. He talks in the book. I also was sort of craving maenads and sprites and such, but I'm not sure I got to see any.
The fact that Aslan told Lucy that thing about nothing happening the same way twice... exactly the same way, twice... bothered me. Because it was so obviously meant to MEAN something, but I think what it MEANT sort of disabled the entire statement itself in a kind of baffling reductive way. This is Narnia, not Fellini. Putting a logical mobius loop here is a bit like putting a hologram of a lake over a puddle... you can dive right in, but there's nothing there anyway. Fortunately, at least Aslan never says, "What does your heart tell you?"
The sniping (I really can't call it anything so manly as "fighting") between Peter and Caspian. I'll have to go back and reread the book on this one. I just can't recall all of that nonsense going on. Still, it drove a lot of plot, and they were so deliberately using this to make it a) a more interesting and b) a more coherent story.
Now I'm just shamelessly eager to get at The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I can not WAIT. I want to see it now now now. *greeeeeeeedy little fangirl*
A side note on the Narnia films: they're showing these in the order the books were originally written (and the order in which the book collections were originally released when I was a kid). There's been a lot of flak about this, but frankly, I completely agree with that decision. LWW makes a better "hook" for the series than TMN... it's more emotionally involving, and it gives you the best possible idea of who Aslan is, without which the rest of the series doesn't have the same meaning.