The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
Harry Gregson-Williams

Type: Score
Label: Walt Disney Records

There are some movies where you can get away with a mediocre score. It’s not advised, but it’s possible. On the other hand, there are movies that simply can not succeed without fantastic music to back them up. A perfect example: the epic fantasy flick.

Whole cinematic fantasy worlds can be made or broken with the music written for it. Harry Gregson-Williams set the tone for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe with a score filled with adventure and child-like wonderment, equal to the story it told. For the most part he succeeds again with the next film in the series, Prince Caspian, but the accomplishment is tainted by a small case of copy-cat thievery.

The realm of Narnia goes through some tremendous changes during the 1300 years that pass between the two movies and Gregson-Williams fills the score with elements that reflect the present but echo the past. For cue “The Kings and Queens of Old”, which announces the arrival of the children back to the magical land a somber but regal french horn opens with a haunting call, leading into an spine-chilling, almost mournful reprise of his fantastic Narnia theme from the first film. It’s one of many places in the score where he weaves the music of the first movie into the new story. Unfortunately, in some other places he doesn’t bother to weave but repeats the old cues almost note for note.

This isn’t a case of reviving and modifying previous themes. It’s flat out replication. “Battle at Aslan’s How” and “Return of the Lion” underscore the film’s final fight. In both cues Gregson-Williams steps up the tension and sense of victory significantly from The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’s grand finale, but peppered throughout each cue are regurgitated segments of music. In some cases they’re over a minute long, and copied straight out of the previous movie. It happens as well in a few other places, right down to the last cue of the disc, “The Door In The Air”. What makes the duplication even more painful is a line delivered by Aslan in the midst of these cues where he assures Lucy that in Narnia nothing ever happens the same way twice.

Prince Caspian tags on four original songs for good measure. While the songs are a good listen and they have ties to the story, some more direct than others, they’re clearly there just to snag the people who wouldn’t normally buy a soundtrack. Witness Switchfoot’s name plastered all over the package wrapping.

The score is, without a doubt, wonderful. Still, after I watched the film what stuck in my memory was the disappointment I felt during those brief scenes where the music was exactly the same from before. Listening to the score on its own is no less disappointing, but I’m no less excited to see what Gregson-Williams has planned for the third film in the series, Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

REVIEWER’S FAVORITE TRACK: “The Kings and Queens of Old” - This is Gregson-Williams at his best, letting the music tell the story instead of just follow along with the story. There are some nice revivals of the popular themes without any blatant repetition. All around the best cue on the disc.

1. Prince Caspian Flees 4:35
2. The Kings and Queens of Narnia 3:33
3. Journey to the How 4:45
4. Arrival at Aslan's How 2:57
5. Raid on the Castle 7:06
6. Miraz Crowned 4:47
7. Sorcery and Sudden Vengeance 6:17
8. The Duel 5:56
9. The Armies Assemble 2:23
10. Battle at Aslan's How 5:18
11. Return of the Lion 4:16
12. The Door in the Air 7:53
13. "The Call" - Regina Spektor 3:09
14. "The Dance 'Round The Memory Tree" - Oren Lavie 3:43
15. "This is Home" - Switchfoot 4:01
16. "Lucy" - Hanne Hukkelberg 4:31
Total Album Time: 75:10

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