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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Michael Apted's 2010 fantasy film and the second sequel in the Narnia film series.

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Beautiful Film With An UnderWhelming Delivery...

  • Dec 11, 2010
Rating:
+3
It has been many years since I’ve read the first “Narnia” book; and I honestly cannot say whether I’ve read the second or third books since then. Well, quite honestly, I never became such a big fan of the books or the film. I thought they were decent films with gorgeous set designs and CGI effects that bring the fantasy world to life. This third installment “Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” does try to re-vitalize the franchise after the much debated “Prince Caspian”. The film stomps on very familiar ground and may provide excitement to fans of the source material. This is a family film and so, I may be a little biased since family films are not really my cup of tea.

A year had passed since the events of the second film and now, a war rages in England. Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) have moved in with their uncle and also puts them at odds with their snobbish cousin, Eustice (Will Poulter). When Edmund and Lucy’s return to Narnia becomes required, the duo along with their cousin are brought magically to the ship called the Dawn Treader and they must join the new ruler of Narnia, Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) in an unexpected quest to find lost weapons that will take them to the edge of the world. These seven lost swords are required to vanquish an evil that threatens the stability of the kingdom. Joined by a soldier mouse (Simon Pegg) and the crew of the Dawn Treader, they must succeed in this quest even as Eustice begins to learn the ways of this fantastic world….

                    A scene from "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D

                    Georgie Henley as Lucy in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D"

I suppose the filmmakers of the franchise wanted to treat this third film with a lot of respect and tributes to the source material. The film looks very beautiful, the scenery is fantastic and the cinematography does have its good side. The film is about magic and swords. The film does manage to get an energetic footing in the first act as the director was able to blend in swashbuckling action and subtle humor while characterization gets crammed in between. The first 35 minutes was quite fun; as the quest is declared, the characters get to jump around and fight a lot of bloodless encounters. I thought the film was about to get more energetic as the film moves along, but hey, I guess I was hoping for too much.

Perhaps the film began to lose its established momentum after it begins to bring our heroes onto the quest. I am not sure, but the film felt that it was trying too hard to fulfill the needs of an adaptation. There is nothing special about the plot, it had all the trappings of a fantasy film, while it creates certain hurdles to keep it interesting. The excitement of the film declined even as Lucy experiences struggles with her identity and perhaps even of vanity. Edmund is stuck to being a ‘shadow’ in his eyes, while Caspian tries to find his own strengths as a ruler. Even the humor injected by Eustice slowly began to wear thin after awhile; Eustice became annoying and ‘unfunny‘. I found his transformation from a snotty kid to a dragon not a reason to marvel but a reason not to care. I don’t fault the direction for trying to stay true to its roots, but I guess all the sequences meant to grab the viewer with some detailed dialogue just proved to slow the film too much that no one seemed to care anymore. The mistake was relying on actors to carry a film’s burden when they don’t have the talent nor the charisma to pull it off. There were also several missed opportunities to either expand or develop the sorcerer in the mansion, and the brave mouse called Reepicheep (nicely voiced by Simon Pegg) felt very underused. I found the small warrior-rat to be quite charming despite the fact that the direction by Michael Apted didn’t take full advantage of the wit and charm injected by the character.

                   Ben Barnes as Prince Caspian and Skandar Keynes as Edmund in "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D"

                  A scene from "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

                        A scene from "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

Not that the film is a lost cause. The special effects were very good as the world of Narnia was once again brought to exposition. The sea serpent looked impressive and scary (somewhat looked like a child of “Predator”) but unfortunately the encounter felt underwhelming. As with most family-friendly fantasies, “Voyage” fails to engage and compel the viewer with thrills and suspense; one needs to be invested in the quest to become enthralled with the story and Apted just didn’t have to skills to pull off a thrilling fantasy tale. Themes of Spirituality and even Christianity lay very subtle in the film’s last act. There is some dialogue about faith, belief, temptation and even a god-like Aslan (Liam Neeson) who seemed to embody the quest for paradise. I am not sure, but I felt those scenes were too heavy-handed and forced.

“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is a family-friendly film that relies on formula. Such films aren’t exactly a bad thing but for such a formula film to work, it has to have the right actors and solid direction to pull it through those rough spots. No, this film may just be as sleepy as a one on “Nyquil” and while it looked very good, it just didn’t have the cinematic power and narrative impact to deliver on the requirements of a true epic-fantasy. I guess I will not be looking forward to a sequel headed up by Eustice.

RENTAL [2 ½ Out of 5 Stars]


 
 
 
 
 
2 ½ Stars: Beautiful Film With An UnderWhelming Delivery...

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December 22, 2010
Whoa! 2 1/2! The Count gave it a 4. Talk about a difference of opinion.
December 23, 2010
I know. I was surprised as well but I stand behind my review of this one.  I guess I was not a fan of the Narnia books, so having a light-hearted "whimsy" (for me wimpy) tone is not a plus for me. Anyway. I liked the darkness in Prince Caspian and the Count didn't; some parts in the book may not translate well into film...but hey, I am not into family films.
December 23, 2010
I suppose that being a fan of the source material would make a big difference in how you approached the films.
December 28, 2010
Woo doesn't care much for light-hearted fare either. LOL! And nobody got their heads chopped off in this one.
December 28, 2010
hey, guilty as charged LOL!
December 31, 2010
I can see you coming from different points of view here. =)
 
December 15, 2010
Such a descriptive review for a movie you didn't quite care for!! This will be rental for me, if only for the beauty and special effects. Thanks Woo!
December 15, 2010
Yeah. I had high hopes for this one and they were dashed. :( Hey, you should check out the vampire movie review I just dropped...you will like it!
 
December 13, 2010
Aw, I love this story, so that's a bummer to hear.  Awesome review as always though, Woo!
December 14, 2010
as always, thanks for the read, Lady D. Three more movies in theaters to review and then I will be taking a break from reviewing after the 23rd...my itty-bitty brain needs to relax. LOL!
 
December 13, 2010
Ah yes, well done Mr. William. While I have the DVD of the first Narnia film, I never even bothered with Price Caspian and it doesn't sound like this one will do much to win me back to the franchise. I remember thinking that the first one was a lot like "Lord of the Rings" light but after revisiting the books, I realized that the films may be similar but the literature on which they are based has like nothing in common! CS Lewis was definitely too heavy handed with his thinly veiled themes and the reading level was very, very low. Even though your comparison for the sea serpent has spurred my curiosity, this is clearly rental fair- and after I rent the second one at that! lol Thanks though, fantastic critique.
December 13, 2010
I liked "Caspian" but not that much. These series of movies have been very uneven for me. For some reason, I feel that it should be more magical, more compelling and yet, it all ends up dry to me. The source material is definitely a bit heavy-handed (never finished the 2nd and 3rd books) so I guess this result could be expected. ..I just knew the comparison to "Predator" would attract your attention. Thanks, man!
 
December 12, 2010
I can't say I'm surprised. I think that the direction they started taking with the second film shows that the producers are more interested in making big effects action films than quality film adaptations of the books. All the same, I'll still see this and hope that the series improves, but I think the trend of decent fantasy films is coming to an end. Even Peter Jackson seems to have forgotten what he did right with LotR and is now ruining "The Hobbit".
December 12, 2010
Yeah. I undertstand. It seems like more and more, money men who doesn't know anything about filmmaking are getting more involved because of their investment. I hope The Hobbit survives but I imagine the budget is killing the project. (and Twilight and Transformers 3 is still going on strong)
 
December 12, 2010
Great review WP, I still need to see this but I will wait for the DVD or whatever. I love all of the books and love the first BBC films that were made. So far with this new series I think they have been good.
December 12, 2010
I saw the BBC films and I prefer those.
 
December 12, 2010
i didn't expect total greatness from this movie but i had hoped Disney would step it up from the last one, but i can now add you to the list of people who said it was not the greatest. In all fairness as the book series gets towards the end the story does become a little...blah....its like you can see the author becoming bored with his own work in the writing. The religious themes in the books start becoming more apparent in this book and get stronger and stronger as they go on making the last book near unreadable (for me anyway). i doubt they will make all 7 books into films because of that factor....but who knows.
December 12, 2010
Honestly, I don't think I was able to finish the books after the 2nd one. I know what you mean, I remember the books struggling to keep its rhythm at times. I liked Prince Caspian maybe a little more than this one, but I'll have to re-watch to make sure. I sure hope they avoid making another one, unless this makes loads of money...

I didn't enjoy this one and as you well know by now, I also went to see THE TOURIST to make my time in the theaters worthwhile...so that means this movie left me empty.
 
December 12, 2010
I was looking forward to your review of this since it was one of the ones I was looking forward to this December. Well, one down and...how many to go? LOL...I STILL need to watch Black Swan, I told Nando that that's going to be our next date night ;p
December 12, 2010
Black Swan is definitely one to see and I think that movie is making my best of 2010 list. I am so excited to see THE FIGHTER and TRUE GRIT this month. I also reviewed another one of the other movies you wanted to see this month... guess what it is? ;)
December 12, 2010
The Tourist!
December 13, 2010
you cheated...you peeked LOL!
December 13, 2010
Yeah, but I didn't mean to LOL...it was featured!
 
1
More The Chronicles of Narnia: The ... reviews
review by . January 04, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I have never read The Chronicles of Narnia but after watching The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I considered myself a fan all the same, for I was enchanted by the world of Narnia. Though Prince Caspian, the second installment in the film franchise, was no where near as captivating as the first, it did not dampen my enthusiasm for the stories of Narnia, and so when I sat down in the theatre for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader with my 3D glasses on and popcorn (already in my mouth), I was anticipating …
review by . December 28, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A Solid Fantasy That Steadies The Franchise's Course
Despite all of the unnecessary additions made to Disney's adaptation of C.S. Lewis' wonderful Prince Caspian, I enjoyed that film quite a bit.  I personally believe that the alterations made to some of the characters, specifically Peter, took away from the overall feel of the film.      When I learned that Disney had dumped the franchise after Prince Caspian's poor (at least to them) performance, I was actually quite happy.  I enjoy many of Disney's …
review by . December 13, 2010
The Chronicles Of Narnia- The Voyage Of Dawn Treader is a good movie but not a great one. It is actually the third book of CS Lewis Narnia series of books that has been made into a movie. The first was The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe and the second was Prince Caspian from a couple of years ago. Michael Apted directs this third film. There are some shots in this movie that are absolutely incredible.    The visual aspect of the film is the strongest thing about it. There is …
review by . March 16, 2011
I had heard both good and bad things about Voyage of the Dawn Treader prior to viewing this, and I did take into account the fact that I didn't read this Narnia book either. However, I found Voyage of the Dawn Treader to be an enjoyable seafaring adventure, even if it isn't quite as good as the two other films before it. It features a decent story, decent performances, and wonderful special effects that probably would have made this fun to see in theatres, but definitely in 2D.   …
review by . December 10, 2010
This is a Voyage Worth Taking.
Just in time for the holidays, the third chapter in the highly successful Narnia series sails onto big screens with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley reprise their roles as Edmund and Lucy Pevensie. The film opens in England during World War II and focuses the young siblings are waiting out the war with relatives, while their older siblings are across the Atlantic in America. Constantly berated and harassed by their cousin Eustace, played with convincing brattiness …
review by . December 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
So there I was, sitting in my seat at the theater awaiting the start of “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” the third film in the series. As I tore open the plastic bag containing a set of 3D glasses, I came to a worrying realization: Although I remembered greatly enjoying the previous “Narnia” film, “Prince Caspian,” I had by now forgotten just about everything concerning the plot and the characters. Would that mean I would be lost watching …
review by . January 25, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Voyage of the Dawn Treader' Somewhat Miraculously Gives Us the Best of Both Worlds
I should get my biases out of the way:  I am a big 'Narnia' fan, both of the books, and, so far, of the movies.  The best measuring stick that the latter is up to par as a medium is to determine whether or not the celluloid versions provide a fluid and engaging adventure, and, if the movie offering retains a good measure of charm the books elicit.      Now for 'The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,' there seemed to be plenty of both.  'Prince …
Quick Tip by . December 22, 2010
The third film in The Chronicles of Narnia is a departure from its previous installments. The series has a new director and a new studio. This means that there is a distinct shift in focus from action and visual effects to adventure and characterization. Despite numerous deviations from C.S. Lewis' novel, I really enjoyed the third Narnia film and found this to be a great improvement over 2008's Prince Caspian. The director and screenwriters have wisely chosen to abridge the novel and modify …
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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is an upcoming 3D fantasy-adventure film based on The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third published novel in C.S. Lewis's epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Narnia. It is third in The Chronicles of Narnia film series from Walden Media. It will be distributed by 20th Century Fox, the first in the series not to be distributed by Walt Disney Pictures and the first to be released in 3D.

 The two younger Pevensies, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley), are staying with their cousin Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter). They find themselves drawn into a painting of an old ship, where they join the new King of Narnia, King Caspian (Ben Barnes).

The film will premiere on November 30, 2010 in Digital 3D at the Royal Film Performance and will have its wide theatrical release in traditional 2D, RealD 3D and Digital 3D in the United States on December 10, 2010.
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Details

Director: Michael Apted
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family, Fantasy
Release Date: December 10, 2010
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 115 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox, Walden Media
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