The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian marks the dubious return to the magical land of Narnia, where lions are even more Jesus-y and those four Pevensie kids get on your last good nerve. Prince Caspian is also, without a doubt, better than the first Narnia film, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but while it may be "better," it's still a long stretch from great.

As you'll recall from your childhood reading, Prince Caspian finds Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie getting magically sucked back into Narnia; while only a year has passed for them in WWII-era Britain, 1,300 have passed in Narnia, and all those chatty badgers and cutesy bears with names like Mr. Fluffernutter and Mrs. Sweaterpuppy have been subjugated by a race of warmongering humans, while Aslan has been MIA for as long as the kids have been gone. Shit ain't right in Narnia, and cue Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), whose evil uncle is plotting to usurp the throne.

Banding together with those annoying Pevensies and some even more annoying magical beasts, Prince Caspian wages a war with his uncle to regain his throne. Here's where all Prince Caspian's battle sequences start going down, and here's also where Lucy starts getting all, "Where's Aslan? How come y'all can't see him? Where's your faith? I believe! What would Aslan do?" (To director Andrew Adamson's credit, he does away with much of the Aslan/Jesus business that plagued Wardrobe, and here gets straight to the savage battle scenes.)

So far, the Narnia series has fallen behind its grand intentions—like someone exactingly following a recipe, but forgetting to add a few crucial spices. The four main characters are un-likeable and personality-less, Aslan is a self-righteous prig who's constantly making Narnians apologize for not believing in him, and even when newcomer Ben Barnes, as Caspian, manages to add some shining moments to the film's blandness, his crazy made-up accent is so distracting you can't quite forgive him. With nearly an hour of tacked-on battles, sword fights, and overly long journeys, Prince Caspian is bloated and lacking in all sorts of magic that it purports to have. In shooting for Lord of the Rings-scale epic scope, Narnia just comes off as the Shire's unsophisticated backwoods cousin—desperate to please, and without a clue how to do so.