Movie Review: THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER
I remember when I first found out that the Narnia books were to be turned into a series of films. Even though I hadn’t picked up the C.S. Lewis series since I was young, the child within me was more excited than a kid on Christmas morning. It was that same feeling that struck me as I walked into THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER on opening weekend. I remember this book being my favorite, by far, and was excited to see how they would portray the story with today’s sweeping 3D graphics and characters I had come to love during the course past two films.
While I was not disappointed, I did feel slightly less devoid of the irresistible magic that seemed to pour through the screen in the first two films – though this may have been due to the fact the third book was set apart in a different way than the rest. Unlike the first two installments, which featured all four Pevensie children, massive battle sequences and a host of new characters, Dawn Treader focuses largely on Lucy (Georgie Henley), Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and their spoiled cousin, Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter) who they have come to live with after the end of the war. Other siblings Peter (William Moseley) and Susan (Anna Popplewell) are nowhere to be found this film, save for a few well-placed cameos that serve to remind the audience of their presence in the overall story. With a bit of good old Narnian magic, the three main characters find themselves aboard the Dawn Treader, a royal ship captained by King Caspian (Ben Barnes) and his crew, who are searching for the seven lords banished to far away islands. Each lord was, at one time, gifted with a special sword that has since been lost with their banishment. In order to stop the growing evil that threatens the now-peaceful Narnian world, these swords must be collected, found, and laid at Aslan’s table.
In watching The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, you can’t help but notice how much the cast has grown since the first film in 2005. Not only older in age, Keynes and Henley (who have always had instant chemistry) both portray their respective characters in a much easier manner than the previous films – the kind of natural acting that comes with being familiar with a certain character for a period of time. Ben Barnes reminds us not just with his looks, but with his acting as well that he is the perfect choice for the Narnian king, one who is wise beyond his years in age and experience, but youthful enough to connect with his subjects. It is British new-comer Poulter who steals the show, however, providing the perfect mix of arrogance and haughtiness and expressing it in such a way that makes you want to slap the character during his introduction and hug him almost two hours later in his emotional transformation.
It is worth noting that if you are a Harry Potter-esque devoted fan of the books, you’ll be a much bigger fan of the film than a casual audience member might be. Writers Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni stick very heavily to the book in terms of dialogue and plot, even going so far as to reward those who might have been faithful readers with drawings during the end credits that were taken from the original Dawn Treader publication. On the whole, Narnia offers movie-goers the perfect package of magic, sword fighting and humor. It combines cinematographic beauty with sweeping views of the sea – the 3D works wonders for this film, pulling the audience into a mystical sea-filled world that would make anyone believe they had just fallen into a painting. Ultimately, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader serves to remind us that we all have a magical parallel universe somewhere.we just have to be lucky enough to believe it exists.