The Chronicles of Narnia

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

     In 2005 Walt Disney delivered the first Chronicles of Narnia film, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. They hoped this would become as popular as The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter; it did not. Disney spent a modest $180 million on the first film that grossed nearly $300 million at the box office. Disney forked over $225 million for the 2008 sequel Prince Caspian, which only did $141 million at the box office. This was a big loss for Disney, and with five more Narnia books still left, they said no more. Fox, now with the rights to the film, proceeds to adapt the third book from C.S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which marks the conclusion of the Pevensie children we have seen in the other two films.  Therefore,  in a way, Dawn Treader has some finality to it.

  The two younger Pevensie siblings Lucy (Georgie Henley), who discovered Narnia in the wardrobe, and immature Edmund (Skander Keynes) have been left in Cambridge while their older brother and sister have become young adults and moved to America. Lucy and Edmund are staying with their uncle and annoying cousin Eustace (Will Poulter); that is until a painting in Lucy’s room begins to gush water, and then once again they are transported away.  However, this time, outside of Narnia. Former prince, and now King Caspian (Ben Barnes) picks them up and they begin sailing from island to island in search of Narnia’s lost lords who were banished along with their seven individual, but powerful, swords.

     There is such a sense of mythology in Lewis’s work that it’s difficult not to attempt to get into these films. Unfortunately similar to the previous films, these are catered heavily towards children and that leaves the adults bored with silly on screen antics and a lack of real danger or suspense. This film, however, is better than Prince Caspian for a couple of reasons.  The first being that the first two films were far too long in running time, nearly 3 hours, while this one is much shorter and wastes much less time. With Fox now footing the bill, they seem willing to explore more of the Christian aspects of the books; the scene in which I took most notice of this was when Aslan the lion (voiced once again by Liam Neeson) tells Lucy goodbye and he will always be with her, even though she will come to know him by a different name (i.e. God). Disney, always playing it safe where content is concerned, was uninterested in exploring more of the book’s Christian themes.

     The entire film is nothing more than island hopping; they travel to six different islands, staying on each one only about ten minutes. Tilda Swinton’s The White Witch is only shown in CGI which is unfortunate since she was the best element of the entire Narnia series so far. Poulter, who plays the character Eustace and will be the lead character if they choose to continue adapting the rest of the books, is entertainingly annoying; but of course it’s his character that learns the valuable lesson. Michael Apted (Nell, Gorilla’s in the Mist) takes over as director this time, but cinematically The Dawn Treader offers nothing new.

  Final Thought – Not as enchanting as the first film, but better than the second.

Grade C+

By: Dustin Chase W.     

Editor: Michael B. Woody