The sequel to "THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA," "CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: PRINCE CASPIAN," is now available on dvd and blu-ray from BUENA VISTA. The first film's script didn't offer characters with great depth, but there was a semi-fresh feel to the film's "epic" dimensions, and even the voice of Liam Neeson carries with it a sense of high-craftsmanship, elevating the film beyond what it otherwise could've been. While that film didn't offer the kind of non-stop visual excitement of any of the "LORD OF THE RINGS" films, it did offer decent pacing, interesting, if not fully developed characters and semi-decent effects.
Unfortunately, "PRINCE CASPIAN" feels largely like a rehash of the previous film, with faster pacing and more impressive effects. Prince Caspian is fighting an evil uncle intent on destroying all of Narnia with the Telmarines, and it's up to Peter and Susan to travel back to Narnia from London to determine Prince Caspian's true motivations and save Narnia. Of course, an unnecessary semi-romance develops between the Prince and Susan, adding nothing to the film. There's really never any doubt as to what will happen to Narnia before coming even close to the end, and the characters seem more like caricatures. In fact, it's a real challenge to not cringe with anger at Prince Caspian throughout most of the film, as he is so poorly conceived as a character, that most of his actions are blatantly stupid.
Saving the film, is tight direction, terrific effects and some incredible battle scenes. The sequence involving a raid on a castle are nothing short of "breath-taking," and it's a shame the entire film, or most of it, couldn't achieve the kind of awe that scene offers.
BUENA VISTA has provided the correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio for the dvd(16:9 enhanced)and 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray.
The dvd image looks great, for the most part, with solid colors and impressive contrast. The only thing diminishing the image are some artifacts, totally absent on blu-ray. The blu-ray, in comparison, ranks up there with the best looking reference quality blu-rays available! Colors are notably more vibrant than the dvd, pushed to the limits, without any oversaturation. Blacks are inky, allowing for incredible detail in the darkest scenes. The blu-ray image offers consistent "jump-off-the-screen" depth throughout. Detail is astounding at times, showcasing just how great the CGI effects are this time out in comparison to the previous film.
BUENA VISTA has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix for dvd and DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix for blu-ray. While the music and effects sound tremendous on the dvd's dolby digital mix, a lack of balance between them and dialogue becomes apparent early on, requiring captions for this reviewer during large portions of the film. In contrast, the lossy DTS mix offers flawless reproduction. Dialogue is presented with great fidelity, and the substantial layers of effects, as well as simpler nuances, come through perfectly, and enhance the overall home theater experience in ways, that even the theatrical presentation didn't achieve. It's a sensational blu-ray mix, and one to really run for to impress a guest viewer/listener!
There are a variety of extras, including a surprisingly intriguing commentary with the director and main actors. Numerous featurettes, with pop-ups, are included, focusing on different aspects of the film's production, including: set design, storyboards, and more. There are also ten deleted scenes and a blooper reel.