The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader – Review

Official Synopsis Return to the magic and wonder of C.S. Lewis’ beloved world – via the fantastic Narnian ship, the Dawn Treader.  In this new installment of the blockbuster “The Chronicles of Narnia” motion picture franchise, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their cousin Eustace, their royal friend King Caspian, and a warrior mouse named Reepicheep, find themselves swallowed into a painting and on to the Dawn Treader.  Their mission – on which rests the fate of Narnia itself – takes the courageous voyagers to mysterious islands and a river that turns to gold, to fateful confrontations with magical creatures and sinister enemies, and to a reunion with their friend and protector, the “Great Lion” Aslan.

Director Michael Apted

Starring Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Will Poulter, Ben Barnes, Liam Neeson, Simon Pegg

Running Time 115 minutes

Rating PG

UK Release Date 9th December 2010

*contains minor spoilers*

After the events of Prince Caspian, Peter and Susan are pretty much absence for the movie’s entirety which makes this series of films unique when compared to say the Harry Potter franchise – Imagine if there were no Hermione after the first few books/films. Luckily for me Lucy and Edmund have always been the most interesting characters, perhaps because being the youngest they have to fight to be heard and can’t assert themselves in the same way as Susan and Peter – which as we know results in some “wicked” behaviour on the part of Edmund. I like the fact that despite his redemption and transformation into ‘Edmund the Just’ in the first instalment and his new found maturity, he is still vulnerable to temptation. In Dawn Treader he is almost seduced by the false promise of power.  Change is a process and to make good and just decisions is a daily test. The valiant Lucy is also growing up in shadow of an older sibling, longing to be as beautiful as her sister Susan and not recognising her true worth. Most of us can relate to these scenarios, even as adults.

New character Eustace Scrubb is likely to be divisive but I can say that he had everyone, young and old, in the audience laughing. Just when you think you have heard about enough of his pompous whinging, he undergoes a miraculous physical transformation which pretty much silences him for the rest of the film and marks the beginning of his internal transformation also. Will Poulter is a promising young actor and as irritating as some may find this character, it shows his versatility. He is especially strong towards the end of the film. I also came to enjoy his rapport with Reepicheep, the (now Simon Pegg-voiced) CGI mouse from Prince Caspian who is every bit as characterful as his human counterparts, perhaps more so.

Dawn Treader is much lighter in tone than Prince Caspian and far less violent. The first two thirds of the film are nowhere near as engaging as the last. I wasn’t terribly interested in the main thread of the plot – finding the Seven Swords of the Seven Lords – it wasn’t so much that things were moving slowly, but rather there seemed to be quite a bit of business to get through before anything truly interesting happens. Once we reach the big action sequence with a sea serpent and dragon, a scene at last worthy of the 3D treatment, I found myself sucked in. That said the sky and sea look beautiful, as do all of the scenes in the water. The early scene where the painting comes to life and floods the room is also effective.

My favourite moments in The Chronicles of Narnia are always those with Aslan (throw in an anthropomorphised creature and you’ve already got me on side -yes, even an Ewok) and his relative absence from these films always  leaves me pining for him. It is a great joy whenever we get to see him in all his glory: He looked absolutely stunning, as expected.  Suddenly I cared about what happens to all of these characters and there were some very moving moments which left me teary-eyed.

Rating 3/5

It was a pretty so-so affair with decent performances,  a good score (though I think I preferred the first one), the occasional beautiful 3D sequence, but not the most interesting of plots. Ultimately I found myself won over by the action and emotional scenes in the last act. Go take your kids or younger siblings (I would advise the 2D – it is after all how it was shot) but otherwise I would recommend you wait for the DVD. Oh, and just in case you were taken in by the snow in the marketing – this film is not in the least bit Christmassy. There be no snow in these here lands.

Review by Alexis Jayne Defoe.

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