Transferring a much-loved book to the big screen is not easy. For every Harry Potter or Lord Of The Rings there's a His Dark Materials or Lemony Snicket. In recent years the journey from the page to film has not been an easy one. It's been particularly tough for the Narnia films, The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe did OK (but maybe that's because it's the best-known of the series) while its sequel Prince Caspian was somewhat derided by critics and ignored by audiences. Then original studio Disney decided not to go ahead with the planned threequel. In stepped 20th Century Fox, and Apted was given the go-ahead to make his movie.
This time round, the story focuses on Lucy (Henley) and Edmund (Keynes) Pevensie with their older siblings Peter and Susan reduced to flashbacks and the odd line. They're joined once again by Prince Caspian (Barnes) as they set out on an adventure of derring-do aboard the ship of the title. Joining them is their irritating, snooty cousin Eustace, played by Son Of Rambow's Poulter. To say he is the standout of the young actors is not to overstate his role – he pretty much acts everyone else off the screen.
I wish I could tell you more about the plot, but to be honest it just seemed to lurch from one set piece to another. It's hard to get involved in a story where the main villain is some green mist (although a much bigger baddie – signalled very early in the story – comes along towards the end). I'm told in the book the characters experience a number of different adventures as they attempt to track down seven swords needed to defeat the mist. Thankfully in the film they manage to stumble across more than one sword at a time.
As I said, Poulter is absolutely the best thing in this. He gets the best lines, the best laughs and shows his colleagues up for the not-very-good actors they are. Pegg provides the voice of mouse Reepicheep, taking over from Eddie Izzard who did it in Prince Caspian – which for me was a shame; Neeson returns as lion-king Aslan and even Tilda Swinton pops up again as the White Witch.
It's a shame that the Chronicles of Narnia films never quite took off in the way the Middle Earth films did. While Peter Jackson's trilogy had elements that enthralled both kids and adults alike, these films feel like their only appeal is to the younger market.