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The Chronicles Of Narnia
Prince Caspian
(3-Disc Blu-ray)

review by Zach B.

 

 

MPAA Rating: PG (For Epic Battle Action and Violence)

Running Time: 149 Minutes

Starring: Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skander Keynes, William Moseley, Anna Popplewell

Screenplay by: Andrew Adamson & Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely
Based on the book by: C.S. Lewis

Directed by: Andrew Adamson

 

Studio: Disney

Retail Price: $40.99

Features: Circle-Vision Interactive: Creating The Castle Raid, BD-Live, Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Andrew Adamson, Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skander Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell, Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns, Sets Of Narnia: A Classic Comes To Life, Big Movie Comes To A Small Town, Previsualizing Narnia, Talking Animals And Walking Trees: The Magical World Of Narnia, Deleted Scenes, The Bloopers Of Narnia, Secrets Of The Duel, Becoming Trumpkin, Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik, Digital Copy

Specs: 2.40:1 Widescreen 1080p High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selection (22 Scenes)

Released: December 2nd, 2008


 

 

"The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian" is presented in 1080p high-def, with the theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1. I was disappointed by the visual presentation on the standard DVD, but thankfully, the Blu-ray version blows it out of the water. Nearly all the problems I had with the standard def DVD were not even an issue in high-definition. For one thing, this very visual film looks pristine, and the clarity of the image produced is astounding. All the detail is downright remarkable, and all the stumptous sets and locations look gorgeous - from the castle settings to the forests. Fleshtones are healthy and pitch-perfect here, and color saturation is supreme: the royal colors, the shades of greens and watery blues. This is the world of Narnia brought to full life, and what a rich presentation it is. Unlike the standard DVD, this disc does justice to the film's epic scale and production design. If you have a Blu-ray player, then this is easily the way to go.


 

The English Dolby Digital 5.1 track impressed on the standard DVD, but it seems like nothing compared to the full-bodied 7.1 DTS-HD Master track on this Blu-ray. You are really, and I mean really at the center of all the battles here - and otherwise, just with the characters in general. The audio here, compared to the standard DVD, has a lot more texture, feels tighter and overall, feels a lot more filled. The battles, as noted, are a selling point and how they stand out: the sword clanks, the war cries, the fighting - the amount of power and action might make your head and ears spin. Subwoofer use is also bombastic - prepare to feel the ground shake a little. With a 7.1 track, you know this is a wide sound stage, and you get it all: high fidelity, incredibly discrete surrounds and stunning dynamic range.

The more quiet scenes - like the children in London - also manage to be immersive, if only for subtle background sounds. Ambiance is well-pitched throughout, and dialogue is very crisp, very clear and very easy to hear. And connecting it all together is the fantastic musical score from Harry Gregson-Williams. The famed composer really strikes the listener with the thundering compositions for the action-heavy sequences, but his more quiet and solemn score pieces resonate just as well and give the appropriate tone - all of which have refined timbre through the channels. This is most definitely demo material for any home theater.

Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in French and Spanish are included, as well as subtitles in English, French and Spanish.
 




As expected, this is a nicely packed set. Exclusive to the Blu-ray set are you usual Disney BD-Live features (movie chat, movie mail, movie challenge and Disney Movie Rewards Live), plus Circle-Vision Interactive: Creating The Castle Raid.

Also on the first disc is the Audio Commentary with Co-Writer/Director Andrew Adamson, Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Skander Keynes, William Moseley and Anna Popplewell. If you (or the young ones) have the patience to sit through it, you'll find a rather solid track that achives an excellent balance. The wry Adamson pinpoints a load of details, be it from actors in small parts to locations to the bevy of effects that fill up the fantasy. The actors joining him are enthusiastic, and share plenty of entertaining production stories. Everyone here has a good rapport, and are clearly proud of their work on the film. Again, there is a nice mix of the fun with the technical. Big and casual fans of the film won't be disappointed if they give this track a go.

The second disc has all the video-based supplements. Inside Narnia: The Adventure Returns is a near 35 minute look at the film's production. This is a remarkable and engrossing documentary that hits all the bases: the film's plot, the success of the first movie, Adamson returning to direct because of the kids (aww!), the wardrobe, the make-up, the locations, the actors, the special effects and much more. It's overwhelming how large of a production this was, and Walden Media honco Cary Ganat's comparison to Adamson is a general is well-suited. This is a great watch.

Sets Of Narnia: A Classic Comes To Life lasts nearly 24 minutes, and focuses on the film's immense production design. Co-producer (and stepson to author C.S. Lewis) Douglas Gresham sorta acts as a guide to this piece, noting how his stepfather's writing was sparse, and thus encouraged the reader to use his or her imagination. Still, the writing and illustrations were used as a jumping off point, and it's pretty thrilling to see all the work and creativity gone into finding locations and building sets. Actors and production members comment on the sets, all while Gresham reads from the source material and illustrations are shown, and then we see the creation and final result. I believe this production cost in the ballpark of nearly 200 million dollars. It certainly looks it.

Big Move Comes To A Small Town runs 23 minutes, and is a downright entertaining look at how the production invaded a small European town to film a key sequence. In addition to showing the prep to film this sequence, we also hear from local townspeople and their thoughts on the movie - and making their guests feel welcome. Well edited and well produced, as it gives varying perspectives on location shooting.

Previsualizing Narnia runs 10 minutes. It's interesting, but a bit technical in nature as it focuses on the film's complex visual effects. Of course, there was a lot to plan with this film, and we see storyboard artists and computer guys play their part in visualizing the film before things are shot. Definitely a necessicity, and this is a tribute to the technical crew's often unsung work. Talking Animals And Walking Trees: The Magical World Of Narnia lasts roughly 5 minutes, which gives a glimpse at some of the film's key secondary characters brought to life with special effects.

10 Deleted Scenes are available to view, with audio introductions from Andrew Adamson. In total, with the audio intros, these last 11 minutes. The moments are short and fleeting, and Adam's reasonings for their cuts make sense (not to mention it's a long move to begin with). The Bloopers Of Narnia is 3 minutes worth of cute moments.

Secrets Of The Duel is a near-7 minute look at the filming and prep for the duel scene, and if we haven't already learned, there's a lot of thought that goes into such things on a big movie. Becoming Trumpkin focuses on character actor Peter Dinklage being in the film - his offering of the role, his make-up and even some comical moments. It lasts about five minutes. Around rounding the disc out is a look at another actor in the film - Warwick Davis: The Man Behind Nikabrik. Running 11 minutes, it's a fun and interesting look at life on the set. We see David wake-up, do 3 hours of make-up, followed by periods of filming and more make-up, before it's time to take off all the make-up and call it a day.

Finally, the third disc is a digital copy of the film for your computer and/or digital media player. A two-disc set without the digital copy is available, so make your purchase accordingly.
 

It might be the end of the road for the Narnia franchise, since "Prince Caspian" did not meet the lofty financial expectations set by its predecessor. Still, I'm sure whatever viewers missed it in theaters will now check it out on DVD or Blu-ray. If such viewers have the option, then as always, the Blu-ray is the way to go. But here, compared to the standard definition DVD, the audio and visual quality feel like night and day (especially the visual). The movie looks sharp and detailed, while the 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track seems to be filled with godly power and wraps you in the adventure. The supplements are excellent too, giving detailed and entertaining looks at the creation of this sequel. There is a lot of value in this Blu-ray set, especially if you want to show off your home theater. The film is solid family entertainment, but for you home theater buffs, is a must purchase for its technical assets.