B and I went to see the film version of Prince Caspian on Friday night, and quite frankly, I was disappointed. It seems to be lacking the charm and the magic that the first film has. It was a very dark film, both literally (it seemed most of the scenes were either shot at night or in a cave) and figuratively (it is definitely a film about war). I realized when I left the theater that I couldn't remember any of the book (it has been probably 20 years since I last read any of the books except for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) so thought I'd at least pull Caspian down off the shelf and give it a read. I'm shocked by how much they changed from the book to the movie. I'm sure they changed quite a bit in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when they made that film (I would have to go back and reread the book and watch the movie again to remember it all), but there were some significant changes made to the film version of Caspian; entire scenes added, the focus of character motivations changed, scenes rearranged. I'm not in Hollywood, so maybe they felt that these changes needed to be made to make the film "better," but in that, I think they failed.
**some spoilers abound - beware**
I think the Narnia books are the type that depending on who reads them depends on how the book will be interpreted. After reading Prince Caspian, I felt the book was about faith; about how faith can grow when you least expect it, and it may not always be easy at first, but if you believe and trust that faith, it will make itself known. I think the movie touched on that a little, but as I said before, the movie was really a war film. The prevalent themes of the movie were racism (instead of thinking the Old Narnians had simply faded into memory, the Telmarines looked on them as an inferior race and tried to exterminate them), revenge (a whole new scene was added to the movie just to show the depths of Caspian's hatred towards Miraz) and egos (much of Caspian's and Peter's interactions at first seemed to be about proving who was the better leader, instead of working together from the first like they do in the book). There was also an entire scene added for the simple purpose of letting Tilda Swinton have a little screen time in this movie, too (the White Witch is only ever mentioned in the book, she is never actually seen). However, in retrospect and after reading the book, this scene actually made sense in the context of the movie version, but it wouldn't have seemed right in the book version.
Needless to say, I don't think they made a better movie; I think they made a Hollywood version of the book, and took it a little too far.