I didn't know the rating before I watched it, and I didn't remember, off the top of my head, whether the first Chronicles of Narnia was PG. (It was.) As Prince Caspian unfolded, I noted that there was an awful lot of stabbing, throat-slitting, and other killing, though I also noted that it was almost entirely bloodless. I figured it was the lack of gore that had prevented the film from being rated R, and that it was instead a moderately violent PG-13.
So I was flabbergasted to discover afterward that it was rated PG. Mind you, I have nothing against wanton violence and destruction in film -- it just needs to be labeled properly. Prince Caspian has (no spoilers here) several large-scale battle scenes, akin to Lord of the Rings in size and scope, with people and magical creatures slaying one another right and left. In a scene of hand-to-hand combat, someone slices off someone else's head; in the next shot we see the head, still in its helmet, on the ground next to the body. Elsewhere, there's a massive slaughter while good guys are forced to look on, powerless to help.
None of this is shown graphically; there are no spurting fountains of blood or piles of entrails. But surely it's thematically disturbing -- not to mention plentiful -- enough to warrant a PG-13 rating. I'd like to give the MPAA the benefit of the doubt, but I would bet money that this is the result of Disney "suggesting" to the ratings board that they'd really, really like the family-oriented PG rating. Disney is one of the six major studios that comprise the Motion Picture Association of America, and it's absurd to think that the ratings board is immune from influence from those member studios, especially when things like this happen.
Chalk it up as one more reason -- the list is very long by now -- that the ratings system needs to be overhauled altogether. And in the meantime, parents, be careful. Won't someone think of the children?