Despite having seen all the films in theater, I'm not a huge Narnia fan. They're all right, of course. But in the leagues of Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, Narnia is like the red-headed step-child. for those who say Potter films are for children, check out a Narnia movie and compare. The books themselves were essentially written as the children and Christian equivalent of Lord of the Rings (as Lewis and Tolkien were friends). And you can tell.

Voyage of the Dawn Treader reintroduces us to the two younger Pevensie children, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes). They're currently staying with their aunt and uncle and have to--unfortunately--put up with their snobby cousin, Eustace (Will Poulter). The three kids end up transported to Narnia and are pulled onto the Dawn Treader, a ship headed by now King Caspian (Ben Barnes). They're traveling Narnia trying to spread world peace and end up on a journey to find seven Lords to retrieve their mystical swords and place them on Aslan's (Liam Neeson) table to stop an evil mist from kidnapping people and destroying the world... or something like that. Also returning are the characters of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) and Reepicheep (Simon Pegg taking over voicing duties from Eddie Izzard).

When you have a series of fantasy films (i.e. Harry Potter), usually the films get darker as they go. But I'd put Dawn Treader somewhere between the first two films. However, it still shares all the problems of the previous films.

The acting is mediocre as usual, though Ben Barnes (again) is OK. Even Liam Neeson's voice made him sound like he was just phoning it in. But there are two that did shine and made the film worth watching. Last film, I said that Reepicheep--the warrior mouse voiced by Eddie Izzard--was the best part of the movie. The character was taken over by Simon Pegg, and I think that made it even better. Pegg sounded as if he had a lot of fun doing it. But the real star of the film is Will Poulter as Eustace. His character was a lot of fun and was most of the comedy. But at the same time, his character changes the most over the course of the film and was the real emotional heart of the film. And, of course, you might remember Will Poulter from Son of Rambow (which is pretty much this blog's "lost review").

Wherein the previous films the CGI is half good, half bad, the CGI in this installment is almost entirely terrible. Everything looks fake. Even when the Dawn Treader is first introduced, the ship looks like it's horribly fake CGI (kind of redundant, but you know what I mean). Really? You can't make a ship on a sound stage or something? Why must everything in these Narnia films be so smooth and shiny? And the "big bad" is this green mist that looks like Shrek farted in a live-action SyFy Channel Original adaptation.

And speaking of, that's one of the big issues with this movie. There is no real sense of urgency or purpose. There is no sense of dread. There is no connection between our heroes and the "villain." I mean, this villain is less menacing than the wind in The Happening. Though I did get to make a fun joke near the end. There's a moment where they were like "Clear your minds! Don't think of anything bad. They'll use it against us!" This was immediately followed by an "uh oh." My first reaction was "Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man!"

The action is OK. It's certainly not as good as in the previous film. There is a good "fight" sequence between Eustace and Reepicheep that is a lot of fun, though. But it could have gone on a little longer. Though when you really think about it, there is very little fighting in this movie. There are plenty of set-ups for fights, but either they don't happen or they last a very little amount of time. The climax is probably the biggest action set piece, and it's decent (except for a near-comical fight against the green mist).

There are little subplots that are randomly tossed in that at times feel out of place. For instance, Lucy feels inferior to her "prettier" older sister. Edmund, of course, still feels inferior to everybody in existence and wants more power. There's even an extremely out-of-nowhere moment where he and Caspian start yelling at each other that made me go "OK, WTF is going on? Where did this come from?" I know these things were put in so that the green mist could see inside their hearts and tempt them with stuff, but it was all very forced and somewhat stilted.

But the big thing about these films is the Christian allegory. The first film is the Resurrection story. The second is about keeping faith. This one is about, basically, finding and believing in God. The themes aren't bashed over your head for the bulk of the film. And then the ending comes in, and it's such an eye-rolling segment. I mean, there's even a moment when Aslan says "I'm known by another name in your world" or something like that. That whole last 10 minutes or so is almost painful if you can't stand things like that shoved down your throat.

Luckily, it is only that short chunk of time. I know I've bashed the movie in this review, but it's no worse than the other films. If you enjoyed those, you'll enjoy this one. The true reason to see the film is for Eustace and Reepicheep, both separately and the relationship between the two characters. Honestly, if they were to make another Narnia film that just focused on Eustace (which they kind of hint at), I'd probably see it. I don't know if it would be the same considering he essentially "finds faith" by the end so he would be a slightly different character, but I'm sure it could be fun if done right. Overall, it was actually an entertaining watch, despite the bad CGI and (mostly) mediocre acting.

I Am McLovin!

1 comment:

  1. The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe cost US$180m to make and grossed over US$745 worldwide. Prince Caspian had its production budget ramped up to $225m but only ended up grossing $420m worldwide, and it took its time getting there.


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