It may seem like not so long ago when the first installment of the Narnia franchise hit theatres, but actually it has been five years since “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” became a box office hit. Since then, it has been anything but smooth sailing (pun intended) to keep the Narnia franchise afloat, and specifically this current installment. The second, movie “Prince Caspian”, did questionable box office numbers (grossing less than half of “Wardrobe”) and met with a lot of criticism for straying away from the original book by CS Lewis. So with the second installment under performing to the expectations of then studio Disney, it was really no surprise when they chose to back out of the third. Fox Studios joined forces with Walden Media to bring “The Voyage of The Dawn Treader” to movie theaters. “Treader” is also the first in the franchise to be done in 3-D.
The movie begins with Lucy and Edmund Pevensie now staying with their totally insufferable cousin Eustace Scrubb. The three are drawn back into Narnia as they discover a magical painting. The Dawn Treader, a ship owned by Lucy and Edmund’s old friend Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) – now King Caspian, finds them and brings them aboard the ship where they find Reepicheep, the faithful warrior mouse that was also introduced in the second movie, as part of the crew.
Lucy and Edmund discover that Caspian is on a quest to find the Seven Lords of Narnia and retrieve the mystical swords. According the wise Lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) the fate of Narnia depends on the success of their quest. Lucy and Edmund are more then happy to help Caspian, however, Eustace is anything but happy about the circumstances and makes his position perfectly clear which adds a bit of tension. Too bad the reason surrounding this quest isn’t made as clear as Eustace and his protest.
Yes, Aslan says the fate of Narnia is at stake but in what way. The dark threat to Narnia really isn’t made very clear and the main villain is a green mist that apparently is killing Narnians. It almost makes the filmgoer wish that Caspian’s Uncle would come back and to wreak havoc, even if he was a weak villain, at least he was a villain onscreen and not just a menacing (if you can call it that) green mist. Also, when seeing the trailers for the film people are led to believe that there will be another fight between Aslan and the White witch, elements that made the original film so memorable. But think again, the White Witch only appears in a brief cameo while Aslan appears in only a few segments, and certainly not in a starring role to say the least.
Although the sea going journey and the mystical islands are fun to explore for the most part, those seeing the trailers may go to the theatre expecting more then is being delivered. If you love the Penvensie family, two members are represented here, but don’t get excited for Susan and Peter, as they both only have a small cameo in the film. Edmund and Lucy are still solid characters that are well portrayed (for what could be the last time) by Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley.
Lucy and Edmund say a sad goodbye to Narnia and Aslan at the end of this film. There are lessons to be learned by all three of the kids, especially Eustace who goes from being a totally spoiled brat to a kind young man. In fact the character of Eustace (played by Will Poulter) sort of steals the show with his less then stellar attitude, much like the way Edmund did in the first film. “Treader” isn’t a bad movie although it does seem to drag at points. The 3-D effects weren’t really needed to make the film visually pleasant and served as more of a distraction.
If this is the last installment in the Narnia franchise, as many suspect, at least Walden Media and Fox Studios made an effort to give the story of Narnia a satisfying conclusion for those who have followed the franchise from the start.
If you happen to love the Narnia franchise and couldn’t wait for this one. If you like CS Lewis books, it is true to the original story although some liberties were taken. This is a great film for kids.
If you haven’t seen at least the first Narnia movie you can avoid this one until you rent the DVDs. You will most likely feel lost with this one. Also, if you are expecting another Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe, don’t. Because as I said before, you will be greatly disappointed.
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