Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Movie Review: "The Chronicles of Narnia-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader"

The new Chronicles of Narnia adventure, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, trades the epic exterior of its two predecessors for an insular seafaring yarn that is always entertaining, but lacking in sheer fantastical scope.

The Chronicles of Narnia-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader follows the youngest of the Pevensie siblings, Edmund and Lucy, as they are whisked back to Narnia alongside their annoying cousin Eustace, who would rather not believe that such a fantastical place exists. The Pevensies team up once again with former Prince, now King, Caspian to sail across the Narnia Seas to return the Seven Swords of these Narnian Lords to Aslan's Table far beyond the edges of Narnia's map, and the adventure ensues to stop this evil mist from bringing darkness to all of Narnia.

While Dawn Treader is never light on laughs, action, or heart, the movie never takes enough of a break from the action to expand the world in which the story takes place in. Director Michael Apted shoots everything as if it was a gritty, real world drama, forsaking the lyrical look and feel of the first two installments. We are never given a chance to see the sheer grandeur of this fantastical world that is Narnia, a world that should feel more lively than our own, but alas the real world sequences have more of a genuine scope than those in Narnia. Regardless, Apted manages to make Dawn Treader a more insular experience than its previous installments.

There is more character exploration in this Narnia adventure than in either of the first two. The stories chronicling Lucy's development into accepting herself as who she is, and not being jealous of her older sister's beauty, alongside the arc of Eustace (played hilariously by Will Poulter) being greedy, transforming into a dragon, and then learning how to not be a brat while flying around spouting fire, are the two finest aspects of this movie. While the mysterious mist overtaking the Seas of Narnia is not as threatening a villain as a human opponent may have been, C.S. Lewis utilized the mist in the book as an allegory to the sin and temptations of man, and it is in these scenes of temptation where the mist is a menacing antagonist to our heroes. Whether it's Caspian's doubts in his leadership, Edmund's desire to be strong and powerful, or Lucy's yearning to be beautiful and desirable to the opposite sex, Michael Apted serves the characters well.

While Dawn Treader has some moments where it stumbles, it has more than enough moments that make it a worthwhile voyage. Reepicheep the mouse is still a comedic highlight to this series of films, and Aslan's presence always warms the heart whenever he appears. What really makes this a movie worth watching, is the way that the philosophical ideas and spiritual allegories presented are woven into the adventure, that it is impossible to not be moved in some way.

I give The Chronicles of Narnia-The Voyage of the Dawn Treader a C+!

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