Review: Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
It’s so weird to be reviewing another Narnia movie now. Hasn’t it been years since the last one? I guess it was only two but I feel like I’ve grown up a lot since then. Now it’s at a different studio and it’s in 3-D so I’m all disoriented. That said, I enjoyed Voyage of the Dawn Treader more than the previous two Narnia films.
Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund Pevensie (Skandar Keynes) now live with their cousin Eustace’s (Will Poulter) family in WWII era England. Soon enough they are transported back to Narnia, onboard the Dawn Treader ship captained by Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes). They have more adventures with talking animals.
Sure, all these movies are the same. The kids have to find some magical artifacts so they can stop an evil force from wreaking havoc on the land. In this case it’s seven swords that will stop a sea mist from kidnapping the families of islanders. What makes Dawn Treader fun are the individual magical encounters. The sum of the parts adds up to more than the whole.
An ocean pouring out of a painting into a bedroom is just plain cool. Dufflepuds that look like Oompa Loompas with one foot are just plain cool. The sea monster conjured from one character’s imagination is the same trick Gozer pulled in Ghostbusters, but that was probably in the book which was written first. It’s still a cooler sea monster than anything in the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels (kraken my ass).
This is a boat movie so a lot of it takes place on board the ship. The film finds a lot for the characters to do, whether sword fights on deck or sea monsters attacking. The crew periodically stops on islands too. This is a really fast-paced adventure. The story keeps moving without slowing down too much for exposition.
In the invisible castle, Lucy finds a spellbook and tries to cast herself more physically beautiful. Her lesson is that she shouldn’t be insecure, but she learns that through a drastic alternate reality where she replaces her older sister and erases herself from the family. Edmund gets tempted by greed when he finds a pool that turns anything into gold, but learns loyalty is more important than wealth. Eustace is a pretty annoying character as the precocious complaining brat but he comes around.
The God metaphor certainly gets really heavy at the end. Aslan actually says. “I’m called by a different name in your world.” That is broad enough that you could interpret it to mean Jesus, Buddha, Allah or whatever your faith. But he really means Jesus. If you’ve got a problem with that, you wouldn’t have made it this far in the Chronicles.
I’m certainly never going to watch The Voyage of the Dawn Treader again but it’s something to do to keep busy. The fantasy elements are more like the ones in my favorites Neverending Story and Labyrinth: not only special effects, but some actual creativity.