Monday, December 13, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Released: December 10th, 2011
Runtime: 115 mins                                                       Return to magic. Return to hope. Return to Narnia.
Rating: PG

Synopsis: Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian for a trip across the sea aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. Along the way they encounter dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world.           

My Thoughts: 

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third movie based on CS Lewis's classic children's fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. The Narnia series are are remembered by many readers, including myself, as being some of the first fantasy books they ever read. I had high expectations for this movie, given that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe was so enchanting, and the sequel Prince Caspian was a wonderful film in its own right, with more adrenaline and battles than the first movie.  I expected Dawn Treader to be more of the same, but was somewhat disappointed.

Dawn Treader had a different director than the first two movies, and it definitely showed.  The film was very loyal to the book, while still giving the story a definite thematic feel.  3-D seems to have become the name of the movie theater game over the last few years-- Narnia is, of course, being shown in 3-D and 2-D.  I haven't seen many movies where 3-D actually enhanced the viewing experience worth paying extra for the 3-D glasses. (The only two that comes to mind are Coraline and Avatar.)  Here I cannot recommend 2-D enough.  Seeing Narnia in 3-D sounded like a must-- I was thinking of the snowbound peaks and sprawling forests of The Wardrobe, even the castles and hills of Prince CaspianDawn Treader had none of these beautiful landscapes, being set for the most part on the Dawn Treader herself, and little need for 3-D besides.

I was glad to see all of the Narnia actors back on board for this movie, including Ben Barnes (Caspian), who I scarcely recognized.  The boy who played Eustace Scrubbs (the Pevensies' cousin) was so truly obnoxious-- he fit the part perfectly, and my sister compared him several times to an eleven year old Draco Malfoy.  The plot itself was disjointed and came across as sort of random on the big screen-- somewhere during the translation the purpose of CS Lewis's epic was mostly lost.  There was plenty of adventure on the various Narnian islands, plenty of (albeit somewhat predictable) plot twists, plenty of self-revelation, and many appearances made by both Aslan and the White Witch.  Yes, two movies after she actually kicked the bucket, actress Tilda Swinton is still appearing as the White Witch.  Now, I loved her as the White Witch in the first movie-- she was everything anyone could have hoped for the Witch and better.  But I do feel like her presence in the movies is getting a bit redundant at this point.

The whole Narnia series is threaded through with Christian messages, Bible parallels, and moral 'lessons' intended for readers.  Previously the movies have only hinted at their religious origins, concentrating on the magic and detail of Aslan and his world rather than the intended meaning behind it all.  These themes are definitely much more noticeable in Dawn Treader, beyond the usual 'battle of good and evil'.  Aslan as good as said "Yeah, I'm Jesus," and the 'green mist' and the temptations it cast on the heroes were very obviously portrayed as being of the biblical Devil.  If that's not your cup of tea, then I recommend skipping this movie, 'nough said.

All in all, I think Dawn Treader is a movie best enjoyed by children or fans of the Narnia book series (because of the nature of its predictable plot), and most definitely one best viewed without paying extra for 3-D.  I give the movie a 3/5, because it was enjoyable and closely followed the book, but the pitfalls were too numerous to make this latest Narnia movie as memorable as the last two.     

My Rating:  3/5

See the movie trailer:      

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