Chronicles of Narnia Voyage of the Dawn Treader
When the first instalment of THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA came out there was a ton of buzz as most people had read or at least heard of C. S. Lewis’ books. I personally had not. Though I found the idea remotely curious, it felt like a lame Harry Potter concoction (I mean seriously, how many groups of English kids get pulled into these strange situations anyway?) and an obvious ploy to fill the fantasy gap after LORD OF THE RINGS breathed new life back into the genre. I went into THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE with low expectations but admittedly the film had its moments (especially the final battle) but it wasn’t until the second instalment that this series truly began to shine. For some reason I’m one of the only ones who loved the second film but I played it cool this time around and again went it with low expectations. Thankfully there was no need as this third instalment kept the party going.
Objectively, I try to keep in mind that these types of films are indeed books in a series and should be considered as such (one big story) rather than analysed as individual films. I was worried after watching the first trailer for DAWN TREADER simply because it didn’t seem like much was going on which I found to be extremely odd seeing as how many Narnia fans have nothing but great things to say about this novel and some even consider it to be their favourite. I did enjoy this third instalment but it paled in comparison to PRINCE CASPIAN in my eyes but then again, I’m a sucker for all out war.
What upped the ante in the second film was the tone; the story got dark and serious in a hurry and that’s just the way I like it. THE DAWN TREADER re-focussed on the “cute” aspect of talking animals and childish humour, which is fine at times but I didn’t feel that any of these characters were in any sort of mortal peril (except maybe at the end). The violence was also toned down and anytime there was a death there was a conveniently timed joke to wash it down with. Looking around the theatre there were a lot of kids, but these stories are different from stuff like MEGAMIND and TANGLED and should be given a chance to appease all audiences, not just children, so next time I’m hoping for a serious trip to Narnia.
The biggest surprise for me came with the cast. I was thankful to have Caspian aboard the ship but found it curious that only Lucy and Edmund returned for the fight. Oh, and their annoying cousin, Eustace, who quickly becomes the Jar-Jar of this story. Now beyond the ridiculousness of his presence, there were plenty of times I had to shake my head, like when their heading for the slave trader island for example, why bring Eustace? He’s no warrior, everyone else knows how to fight but him, yet they don’t leave him on the boat, instead they bring him along and he screws it all up. Huh, didn’t see that coming. Eustace does become likable by the end of things but all in all I don’t feel he was necessary.
THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER is a fun addition to the Narnia series despite reverting back to the innocence of the first film. Now many people (myself included) wondered about the transition from leaving the hands of Disney but I don’t think it hurt the film at all. The special effects brought Narnia to life here in just as beautiful and magical a way as ever and though the 3D aspect of things looked alright at times I don’t feel that it was absolutely necessary or that you’ll be at a loss for seeing it in 2D. The seven swords were a cool twist, the evil being in everyone’s mind and trying to turn everyone against one another was also cool and I can’t complain about the climax either as it was bang on for the money. Here’s hoping that the Narnia series has nothing but clear skies for the rest of its voyage.