Only one film opens in wide release this weekend, so if you are planning on going to the movies, this might be the one to check out:
The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (PG)
One year after the events of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," the Kings and Queens of Narnia find themselves back in that faraway wondrous realm, only to discover that more than 1300 years have passed in Narnian time. During their absence, the Golden Age of Narnia has become extinct, Narnia has been conquered by the Telmarines and is now under the control of the evil King Miraz, who rules the land without mercy.
The four children will soon meet an intriguing new character: Narnia's rightful heir to the throne, the young Prince Caspian, who has been forced into hiding as his uncle Miraz plots to kill him in order to place his own newborn son on the throne. With the help of the kindly dwarf, a courageous talking mouse named Reepicheep, a badger named Trufflehunter and a Black Dwarf, Nikabrik, the Narnians, led by the mighty knights Peter and Caspian, embark on a remarkable journey to find Aslan, rescue Narnia from Miraz's tyrannical hold, and restore magic and glory to the land.
Judge's Take: Having not read the books, my only frame of reference is based on the strength of the first film. Other than my experience of dealing with some bratty teens that wouldn't shut up the entire time in the theater, I thought the first one was good, if perhaps a bit preachy in an obfuscated sort of way. I wonder how the Christian zealots feel about this one. They seemed to stand behind the first film, will they support this next one?
Honestly, the trailer looks good and it seems we are going to see yet more epic struggles with thousands of armies battling it out with shiny swords and boulder-chucking trebuchets. I wonder how long before audiences tire of these obviously cgi-enhanced scenes. I mean, once you've seen Lord of the Rings, things sort of pale in comparison.
The story seems rather simple and the premise of which has been done ad infinitum: the heroes return to their previously conquered paradise only to find that some other bad guy now inhabits it who is bigger and badder than the last one. So the heroes have to work together to fight evil with good, right the wrongs and do all those heroic things that make for epic movies.
Also, a typical ploy with most multi-part stories and a strategy that seems to work a lot is to have the first film in the series be rather tame and then "beef up the darkness" as one insider put it. This next film seems a lot darker than the original happy-happy, joy-joy flick that was its predecessor and the studios are predicting an $80 take for the weekend. I think that's a little too optimistic, but we'll see.
But hey, it still looks better than Speed Racer, so at least it has that going for it.