A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

August 23, 2011

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

It seems to me that when C. S. Lewis wrote this book he was on a bit of an L. Frank Baum kick. This tale is so episodic and full of peculiar comedic monsters that it feels more like an Oz book to me than a Narnia book. It’s not a tale full of grand epic battles or overcoming a grave enchantment – it’s a road movie about people on a seemingly pretty pointless quest. The makers of this movie seem to have realised that about the book, and they’ve slightly changed the plot to make it less episodic and more coherent.

For the third visit to Narnia Lucy and Edmond are joined by their annoying and self-centered cousin Eustice Scrubb. The three of them are thrown into the ocean and rescued by the crew of the Dawn Treader – a boat that King Caspian is taking to the lone islands on the outskirts of his lands in search of seven lords who once advised his father.

What’s interesting about this adaptation of the book is that the film makers have cleverly created an over-arching plot to make the somewhat episodic book feel more coherent. In the book Caspian and the Dawn Treader spend the whole time sailing from island to island – encountering a different obstacle at each stop and finding one of the seven lost lords or their remains before sailing off to the next island. You even get the impression that Lewis himself grew tired of this formula after a while when the crew finally find three of the lost lords together on the last island. In this movie, however, the crew of the Dawn Treader are on a much more specific quest – they must find the swords of the seven lost lords and put them on Aslan’s table in order to defeat a mysterious green mist that has been abducting fishermen and slaves from the lone islands.

As a result of these changes this movie feels less like a series of short stories and more like a single adventure story. There’s even a plucky girl and her father thrown in to give the kidnap victims some humanity. None of this, however, does anything to make the Dufflepods seem any less goofy.

Since this story doesn’t take place in Narnia there are a lot fewer of the traditional Narnian fantasy creatures. There’s a minotaur on the crew and Reepicheep of course and a couple fawns maybe, but it’s mostly humans this time around, which feels a little less magical. Most of the wonder is presented by the strange things they discover on the islands, and some of those feel somewhat forced. Case in point: the invisible one-footed bumbling fools that force Lucy to go into a magician’s house to read a spell to make them un-invisible. As I said before – some parts of this story feel like they’d be more comfortable in Oz than in Narnia.

Still – I do enjoy being able to visit Narnia again, even if it doesn’t feel anything like the previous films. Georgie Henley as Lucy has become quite a great actress, and I felt like most of the movie is carried by her. I’m also extremely impressed by Will Poulter as Eustice. He so perfectly captures that snide desperation that the character calls for. It’s all in his pinched brows and his irritating whine. I really enjoy seeing him slowly come to accept Narnia and eventually learn how to behave like a proper human being (by way of being transformed into a dragon.)

Of course Amanda and I couldn’t help laughing to see that Simon Pegg – our favorite British actor who shares our last name – plays Reepicheep in this movie. You can’t help loving that swashbuckling mouse. I’m looking forward to writing my review of the BBC version where another of my favorite actors plays the same character.

This is not my favorite Narnia tale, and not my favorite Chronicles of Narnia movie, but it is still fun, has some cool action and special effects, and at least lets us spend a little more time in that magic land. I understand that The Magician’s Nephew is in pre-production now for release sometime next year. So there’s more Narnia to come. In my book that is a good thing. i just hope Will Poulter is not too old to play Eustice again in 2015 for The Silver Chair.

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August 23, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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