This third instalment of the Narnia story, after a troubled passage to the screen, turns out to be better than either of its predecessors – even if that's not saying much.
Whereas C S Lewis's adventure sequence lightened the load on a national psyche wearied by war and its subsequent austerities, these film adaptations have struggled to find an equivalent vitality, especially in the wake of other multi-part fantasies The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. Perhaps the best part of this new film is its opening, where displaced siblings Edmund and Lucy Pevensie (Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley) are literally engulfed by a marine painting that comes flooding to life and transports them – and infuriating cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) – to the ship of King Caspian (Ben Barnes). He and his crew, battling an evil green mist that robs people of their minds, are in search of seven noble swords that will defeat the darkness, or something. In truth, I found both the derring-do and its heroes – including a swashbuckling rodent – quite resistible; the Pevensie children are likeable enough, but Ben Barnes has all the charisma of a cheese straw and Liam Neeson's voicing of the godlike Aslan would convert you to Satan.