Tuesday, December 02, 2008

DVD flashback: The return of "Prince Caspian"

Actually, the best news out there today for those (like me) who still spring for HBO is that Martin Scorsese's is currently cooking up something that smells an awful lot like the "The Sopranos", take two (which wouldn't be bad at all in my book.)

Scorsese is set to direct at least the pilot for a series based on the book "Boardwalk Empire," which retells the rather colorful history of Atlantic City. To up the "Sopranos" factor, the pilot is being written by "Sopranos" scribe Terrence Winter, and it will star "Sopranos" vet Steve Buscemi and - even better - "No Country for Old Men" star Kelly Macdonald (one of those women who I'd gladly watch simply eat a peanut butter sandwich.)

Buscemi will play Nucky Johnson, a cunning businessman who runs a liquor distribution ring at the onset of Prohibition. In adapting a different accent, Scot Macdonald will play Margaret, a smart Irish immigrant who married the wrong man to get out of her parents' house.

Here today, however, it's also about one of my favorite movies of 2008 (not top 10, but it will be close), which hits DVD this week: "The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian." I had high expectations for this when it opened way back in May, especially since I really liked "The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe." When I saw "Caspian" it was on a movie-heavy weekend in which I also saw the simply sublime "Son of Rambow" and the diverting journey to nowhere "Flight of the Red Balloon."

Here, in case you're eyeing a rental or purchase of director Andrew Adamson's second "Narnia" flick (and yes, he's already at work on the third installment, "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"), is what I had to say about "Prince Caspian" when I first saw it:

I realize it's an incredibly irrelevant activity to add my two cents about a flick that's already had a $56 million opening weekend, but I still wanted to mention that it's the best flick I've seen so far this year.

I had my doubts going into this one, though given my love of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" I'm really not sure why. Perhaps it's because that what little I knew of "Prince Caspian" was that it was a darker - and therefore bloodier - tale, and I really wasn't sure that director Andrew Adamson had the heart for it. In chapter one, the battles were almost completely blood- and consequence-free, not exactly the message you want to pass on to kids by my measure.

That's definitely not a problem with "Caspian." The rather epic battle that takes up the final 45 minutes or so just keeps coming at you in wave after wave and has a real fluidity to it that keeps the excitement at top notch throughout.

Which brings up the only real problem with "Caspian," which wasn't much of one at all to me: It's definitely not for the younguns, either in it's rather slow buildup or it's seriously violent finale. But I like movies like this when they're at their most quiet (my favorite portion of the "The Lord of the Rings" flicks is still the opening half-hour when they're in the shire), and "Caspian" delivers a lot of humor before the carnage, thanks in large part to Peter Dinklage.

And, if I can digress just a bit on that note, if you happen to make movies and want to cast a "little person" (or whatever the right thing to call them is), please consider using the very talented Mr. Dinklage or the very funny Tony Cox (if you doubt me, just watch "Bad Santa") before you employ the simply annoying Verne Troyer.

But if you like epic adventure, it really doesn't get much better than "Prince Caspian," no matter what you see Aslan as.

I stand by my assessment of this movie and my dismissal of Verne Troyer, so take a chance on it if you're looking for a rental this week.

1 comment:

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