gave up on the Narnia
franchise following the lackluster performance of part 2, Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
, Fox 2000 took over the series. The studio brought in a new director, Michael Apted
, who approached Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
with fresh eyes. Apted and screenwriters Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni's task was to keep true to the source material while trying to make the Narnia
material more accessible to a larger audience. And for the most part Apted and company succeeded on both counts. Voyage of the Dawn Treader
reinvigorates the franchise and shows there actually is life left in the series with the right hand at the helm.
Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
has a holiday feel to it, so launching the film during the crowded winter season should pay off for Fox. However, Voyage of the Dawn Treader
will have a major stumbling block to overcome as fans in general weren't happy with the film adaptation of Prince Caspian
(I actually enjoyed the second movie more than the first). But Dawn Treader
may be one of those films that benefits from Twitter, as satisfied Narnia
fans recommending the movie to their peers should help put aside any hard feelings they still harbor from the past and pave the way for box office success.
I've never read the Narnia
series (sorry!) so the plot in Voyage of the Dawn Treader
probably didn't make as much sense to me as it would to Narnia
enthusiasts. From what I've been told, it does follow C.S. Lewis' book fairly closely. But, again, I can't say that with 100% certainty.
The dragon and Reepicheap© 20th Century Fox/Walden Media
Lucy (Georgie Henley
) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) are having a horrible time living with their obnoxious cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) when they are transported out of England and into the fairytale world of Narnia. A sea painting on the wall in Eustace's house comes to life and the threesome - two extremely excited by the prospect and one demanding answers - are plucked from the ocean by Caspian (Ben Barnes
) and taken aboard the Dawn Treader.
Caspian is now the King of Narnia and things in general are peaceful in his kingdom, the exception being one island where communication has been cut off. The seven lords of Narnia are supposed to be on the island but have apparently gone missing, and when the Dawn Treader crew arrives to check out the situation it turns out the lords aren't the only people who've vanished. A group of thugs has taken over the island and is sending boat-loads of its residents out to sea where they are received as sacrifices and swallowed up in a green mist.
Caspian, Lucy, and Edmund soon learn that the only way to find the missing lords and the missing citizens of Narnia is to locate the swords of the lords (go ahead, pause a minute and repeat those last four words three times quickly). Once they've found the seven swords, they need to reunite them by placing them on Aslan's table. This will do something magical and free the missing people.
With a dragon, minotaurs, some goat people, and Reepicheap fighting on their side, King Caspian, Lucy and Edmund battle to save their people and restore peace to Narnia.
The Bottom Line
If you've read the books, then I'm assuming the plot will prove to be more engaging than it was for me. The threat didn't seem quite as menacing as you'd hope for in the third film, however I understand the plot's based on the classic story so the screenwriters' hands were tied. And as with all the Narnia
stories, this one has a great deal of religious references which are hard to overlook. But if you've made it through the first and second films, which you should before seeing the third, then you're already fully aware of the heavy dose of Christian beliefs which flow through the storyline. Voyage of the Dawn Treader
is no more heavy-handed in putting forth that message than the prior two films, but it's there and not something that can be totally ignored.
Simple plot and religious references aside, this Narnia production has the right mix of action scenes, humor and suspense. The cinematography is terrific, the set design is gorgeous, and the score by Narnia newbie David Arnold works well without being overpowering. The only real disappointments are the returning actors who haven't developed much since the last time we saw them. But director Michael Apted makes up for any acting shortcomings by shifting away from strictly dialogue-driven scenes into ones containing action. And whenever there's a lull that needs to be filled, the clever rat-thing Reepicheap (voiced this time by Simon Pegg of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz fame) shows up to save the human actors from themselves.
Georgie Henley and Aslan in the fantasy adventure film 'Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.'© 20th Century Fox/Walden Media
Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
goes a long way in restoring goodwill toward the franchise and should help rekindle an interest in the continuing adventures of the Pevensie siblings and King Caspian. Voyage of the Dawn Treader
is an entertaining fantasy adventure film that won't bore kids or adults, and it successfully proves there's still a reason to visit the world of Narnia.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was directed by Michael Apted and is rated PG for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy violence.
Theatrical Release: December 10, 2010
Disclosure: This review is based on a screening provided by the studio. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy