Posted by Nick Ondras on December 11, 2010 at 6:20 pm
Not since September’s Legend of the Guardians have I been so…well, bored by a movie. The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, in every word of its title, brought out the worst traits in me while watching: arrogant, lazy, and downright vicious. But I won’t take any of that out on Dawn Treader, the third (and possible last?) entry into the Chronicles of Narnia series, which this time around thanks to poor ticket sales of the preceding Prince Caspian, was dropped by Disney and released by Fox 2000. Does that change much? Nope. You’ll still find the same talking animals, loose war references, poor computer graphics, and under-developed characters you’ve still come to not be given a chance to ever really figure out.
It’s not because the movie fails as something for kids because it isn’t as charming or funny as it thinks it is; and also too polite to be anywhere near as dark as, say, Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings: it’s the kids – Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund Pevensie (Skandar Keynes), well as the all but brief appearances by sister Susan (Anna Popplewell) and brother Peter (William Moseley) – and how they aren’t used the way they should be. Or rather, the amount of depth to which they’re explored.
In Dawn Treader, they mistakenly enter a painting at cousin Eustace’s (Will Poulter), and soon find themselves on the Dawn Treader ship with Narnia royalty Caspian (Ben Barnes). The folk aboard are looking for the seven lost lords of Narnia, per Caspian’s pledge to Aslan (Liam Neeson, hope he’s enjoying that paycheck.) Plot sound familiar, maybe to that of a certain seventh chapter in a franchise about a boy wizard? I don’t know how much has been changed to author C.S. Lewis’s original installments, written sometime in the ‘50s and considered classic children’s literature by many, but director Michael Apted and his trio of screenwriters grant Dawn Treader with too much excess flab. And only at its flabbiest is the potential of a good movie seen, somewhere amongst a subplot about a man-eating fog which hides diversions that tempt Edmund to go to the dark side.
Yawn. You’ve seen this before. Lewis’s novels, these adaptations need to understand, were used as whimsical escapism (i.e. distraction) in a time waaaaay back, and the trilogy just hasn’t found the right level to relate to it on. With each passing film since 2005’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, arguably the best and most memorable, story and emotion are tossed to the wind, and Dawn Treader more than Caspian feels made for the here-and-now. The movie disappears without saying hello. Potter got the hang of handing out reason to care for its troupe of adventurers as they scurried into territory beyond Hogwarts. Tops to Narnia for trying to keep their magic going, but at a second sequel after already skipping a few novels on the shelf, and with just Lucy and Edmund remaining as protagonists, Voyage of the Dawn Treader ultimately trails to nothing.