There’s not a better way to wrap up this week-long pilgrimage into the spirituality of the natural world than to review “Prince Caspian,” the second big-budget movie produced by Walt Disney from C.S. Lewis’ fantasy novels, “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
This is Lewis’ civil-war novel in the “Narnia” series in which war-like humans face off against the remnants of the natural world. The commanders of the human armies are bent on finally wiping out woodland creatures for all time.
The two-hour movie is jam-packed with high adventure, combat, large-scale battles and special effects. All the while, viewers sit on the edge of their seats wondering if the great lion Aslan, who fans know is Lewis’ figure representing God, will rouse himself and summon the full force of the natural world against the human hordes.
But, if you’re reading this review, today, and considering whether to go see “Prince Caspian” this weekend — do you really want to know what a 50-something journalist has to say? Or, would you rather hear from teen-agers themselves?
They’re the target audience. So, will young people enjoy the movie?
Through HarperCollins (publisher of Lewis’ books) and Disney (co-producer of the movie), ReadTheSpirit arranged a special screening for a group of teenagers, aged 15 to 18 — so they could review the film for us.
In unison, the young people spilling out of the theater cried: Yes! Go see this movie! It’s very exciting — much more exciting, in fact, than the first Narnia movie.
You can meet the teenaged reviewers in the video clip below — which includes a few words from each of the seven young people.
But, beyond what you’ll hear in the short video, they had lots to say.
Alex Koukios, 15, compared “Prince Caspian” very favorably to the first film. “The first movie had to give people a whole lot of information about the story before there was much action. In this movie, they could get right to the action,” Alex said.
That’s logical, Alex said, “because in the first movie, Peter, Susan and the others had to learn all about Narnia and, now, in this movie, they already know what they need to do. They already know which side is right and which is wrong.”
Joey Houghton, 15, said the high action and sophisticated special effects in the second film reminded him a lot of “The Lord of the Rings.” Joey added: “And I liked ‘Lord of the Rings’ a lot.”
But what about the message of the film?
C.S. Lewis is famous as a Christian writer and his Narnia books were full of religious messages. What messages did these teenagers take out of the theater with them?
Quite honestly, Joey shook his head and laughed when he was asked about the spiritual message. “You know, there probably was a spiritual message here — and I completely missed it while watching all the action. I know there must be a spiritual message there, because I’ve read all the novels and I know C.S. Lewis did that — but after seeing this movie once? What I saw in there? All those innovative special effects and all that action.”
He wasn’t alone. Grace Saunders, 18, said, “I know there’s supposed to be a spiritual message and all. I know that C.S. Lewis based his novels on the Bible. But other than that Aslan is supposed to be God, I don’t care so much about that part of the stories. I just enjoy the stories, so I didn’t stop to try to figure out the religious side of it.”
But a few teenagers did take a stab at explaining the movie’s spiritual themes.
Scott Hulbert, 17, said, “The first movie had much closer ties to the story of Jesus. It showed the resurrection of Aslan, like Jesus’ resurrection. But compared with that, this movie was more like a future story — like how God will relate to people in the future.”
Clara Eidt, 17, said she picked up a message about the eternal power of goodness that keeps shining through even the darkest chapters of history. “The good is always present. When there is evil, there is also always good — and that’s a good message to me. There’s always going to be evil, but there’s also always going to be good,” she said.
No one wanted to give away the movie’s surprises — and there are lots of surprises, especially if you haven’t read the original novel or read it years ago and have forgotten the plot. In addition, a few changes have been made in turning the novel into a movie.
But a good spiritual theme to contemplate as you watch the film is this: Never give up on the capacity of the human heart to be transformed for the good.
CLICK on the Video Screen that appears below to meet the teen-aged reviewers. If no video is visible in your version of this story, then Visit You Tube to see this teen-aged review of “Prince Caspian.”
ONE FINAL NOTE: All the teenagers talked about “Prince Caspian” as an ideal family movie.
“Kids and teenagers and and even old people who like fantasies will enjoy this movie,” Clara Eidt said.
But this is a movie that’s basically all about a civil war. There are countless flashing swords, whizzing arrows and full-scale armed assaults in the course of the film. Families with small children may want to carefully judge their children’s capacity for so much suspenseful, life-and-death action. The film is carefully edited to avoid showing viewers too much gore. Almost all of the violent scenes are cut before we see the gruesome aftermath. So, it’s a surprisingly bloodless war movie.
BUT, TELL US WHAT YOU THINK!
We’d love to hear what you see in this film. Is it close enough to the original novel? Are there more spiritual themes to explore? Do you disagree with the young reviewers? Tell us what you think.
Click on the “Comment” link at the end of the story — or you always can Email ReadTheSpirit Editor David Crumm directly.