Director Andrew Adamson returns us to the magical kingdom of Narnia where the four Pevensie siblings must once again defend the kingdom against a dark invader.

It has been one long year for the four Pevensie siblings since they accidently found themselves back in England after there magical trip to Narnia in 2005’s The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. One year for them, but 1300 years have passed in Narnia itself, and the land has come under the savage rule of the “Telmarines.” The film opens with Lord Miraz (Sergio Castellito) arranging an assasination attempt on his nephew, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), after his wife gives birth to a son. Miraz wants Caspian removed from the throne of Narnia so he can claim it for himself, and his own son would then be heir to the throne. Caspian is pursued by soldiers, but escapes into the woods of Narnia, where the Narnians have fled and hid since the human population nearly wiped them out years ago. This isn’t the same Narnia you will remember from Wardrobe a few years ago.

Before escaping, Caspian was given a mythical horn by Professor Cornelius (Vincent Grass), which turns out to be the horn used by Susan (Anna Popplewell) in the previous installment, and is told not to use the horn unless in dire need. Caspian is surrounded by his pursuers and found by two dwarves, Trumpkin (Peter Dinklage) and Nikabrik (Warwick Davis). Trumpkin rushes to distract the soldiers, and is captured. Nikabrik attempts to help Caspian, who startled at the sight of the dwarves, uses the magical horn. The film cuts to England, still involved in World War II, and we see the two brothers, Peter (William Moseley) and Edmund (Skander Keynes), in a fight with older boys in the train station. British soldiers break it up and the four siblings sit together waiting for the train. When Susan and Lucy (Georgie Henley) ask why he was fighting, Peter explains he can’t stand being treated like a child after being not only an adult, but a King in Narnia. Suddenly all four are brought back to Narnia, and find themselves on the sea shore where they find the great castle of Cair Paravel in ruins.

Meanwhile, Miraz has used the capture of Trumpkin to convince the other Lords that the Narnians have a secret army in the woods, and that they have abducted Caspian. Miraz vows to find Caspian and remove the Narnians forever. Caspian has found other Narnian creatures in the woods, and begun building an army to reclaim his throne and the world back for the Narnians. After struggling to find out what has happened to Narnia, the four Pevensie children (conviently) find there old clothes, weapons and trinkets left behind in the castle’s hidden treasure rooms. The Pevensie’s head out in search of Aslan (voiced by Liam Neesen) and answers. They stumble upon Miraz’s soldiers attempting to kill Trumpkin and save the dwarf, who then joins the children and helps them find Caspian and his hidden army. After joining forces, Peter proposes a daring and risky plan to try and defeat Miraz and his army.

The return trip to Narnia is a different, but enjoyable one. The film moves much faster than the previous film, which was burdened with setting up not only the four children’s roles, but all the mythology of Narnia as well. The action scenes are bigger, better and more frequent in this installment as well. The film is also unburdened by the heavy allegorical themes of the first movie, but I must admit it isn’t better off because of it. The first film was about the magic and wonderment of being a child, and what happens when you grow up. The themes are continued in this film, but not nearly as poignantly. Instead the film is much darker, and grittier as Narnia has fallen into a dark age since the four Pevensie’s left. Director Andrew Adamson does seem to be a lot more comfortable behind the camera, and with his four young leads. They all do an admirable job of continuing there individual character’s arc’s. Much like in the Harry Potter films, the main kids seem to be getting more comfortable as they go. Peter and Susan have the most poignant arcs in the movie, and without giving away the ending, there is a good reason for that. Edmund is sort of on the side-lines much of the movie, but does very well when he is on screen. Georgie Henley’s portrayal of Lucy stole the show in the first film, but never quite has the same look of wonder in her eyes in this film. She also spends large parts of the movie elsewhere, as the action scenes focus more on the older characters of Caspian, Peter and Susan.

The final third of the film is one big action scene after another and each gets you into it more than the last. Certain moments will no doubt conjure images of The Two Towers and other fantasy epics, but are also unqiue in there own way. For me the star of the movie was the little mouse warrior Reepicheep (voiced by Eddie Izzard) and I challenge anyone to not be tickled by every moment he is on screen. The film may not be as good as the charming first installment, but is still a fun and excting fantasy epic worth seeing, and I eagerly look forward to the next installment.