The Chronicles of Narnia – The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

We (that is me, some of my family, and our good friends) went to see the Voyage of the Dawn Treader last night; it was my first midnight premier of a movie I’d been to, and I was concerned to some degree that I wouldn’t be able to keep my eyes open throughout the film’s entirety, but fortunately, I managed to. I went in with high expectations, but also with some foreboding as well. I had seen the trailers of the movie, and it had appeared to me to be different somehow when compared to other films, particularly the camerawork and the quality of the footage. But, quips aside, I was still excited, and prayed that the film would live up to its potential. So, it began.
How very disillusioned I was.
Everything that made the first two Narnia films great was cut from this. There was no depth to the story anymore, no character development; each face on the screen was merely a cardboard cutout used to further a shallow and unmoving story. Yes, the plot line was changed, and this is understandable; the Voyage of the Dawn Treader would have easily been the hardest of all the movies to film. But it was told absolutely terribly. I really cannot describe to you how disappointed I was!
The dialogue didn’t make sense in places; each scene was rushed and shallow. The plot line contained many logical flaws and seemed to be only an expedient to providing a 3D roller-coaster ride for the audience; and, really, the effects were not that good. Lord of the Rings did a better job, and it didn’t rely on them to make a good movie. Voyage of the Dawn Treader did, however, and consequently it suffered; at the end, when they were leaving, I didn’t feel anything at all, whereas there was a sadness and yearning in my heart when they left during the first two. That’s because the characters weren’t characters at all, and the pitiful attempts to make them such ended in disaster. Every line of dialogue they spoke was simply commenting on the events unfolding in the story except for a rare few, precious moments; this made it seem as if they weren’t people at all, and merely a device to attaining an end.
I saw this especially in Lucy, who seemed skeptical about Aslan’s country in the Utter East… Excuse me! Lucy was the one who believed in Aslan before the others! What happened to her? Her entire character was based upon her willingness to believe; it was even mentioned later in the movie. But here she is being skeptical about Aslan’s own country! The dialogue went something to this effect: Lucy: “Do you really believe there is such a place?” Reepicheep: “We have nothing if not belief.”
That was when Lucy became a cardboard cutout to me.
And then there’s Prince Caspian (well, king Caspian now, I should say), who doesn’t seem any more like a real character than the others. I was especially disappointed with his speech at the end to his men, which was brief and less than inspiring. But the men cheered, of course, crying “For Narnia!”, and the battle began.
The story is standard. After Caspian tells them about the seven lords of Narnia, each of whom was lost following his father’s kingship, they set out to find them in the Lone Islands and beyond. When they arrive at the islet of the Dufflepods, they meet a magician who tells them that the evil, amorphous “mist” they have been seeing must be destroyed, and that the swords of the seven lords must be lain at Aslan’s Table in order for its spell to be broken. They rather precipitated us into this talk, and the drama that it contained was cheap and ineffective; “You are all about to be tested.” “Tested?” “You must be strong!” It was awful! It didn’t mean anything to me; it was all empty talk. Here, also, lies another logical gap; when the companions arrive on the Dufflepod island, the magician comes out with Lucy to greet them, but they speak nothing of their journey or its purpose; then, without any reason at all, they head to the magician’s chambers and he tells them what they must do to stop the mist. What? That doesn’t make any sense at all; the magician didn’t even know they had seen the mist before, because they hadn’t spoken of it beforehand! It’s another reason that I think the plot was just a means to an end, and why it appears that it was given so little attention. It was meant to be a thrill ride, and they achieved that job well enough; but I believe that many Narnia fans will leave this movie wanting more from Edmund and Lucy’s last adventure than what was given to them.
I’ll give two out of five stars for this unremarkable achievement. They ruined everything about Narnia that I loved, and the ending, which was a perfect opportunity for a moving farewell, was not done justice, chiefly because they didn’t do anything throughout the entire movie to earn it. The characters were flat; the plot spoiled; the quality of filming terrible; the dialogue shallow; and every attempt at emotion mawkish and unreal. I have half a mind to watch the first to Narnia films because I miss them so much; I only wish they could have done the Voyage of the Dawn Treader justice.
God bless you, everybody!

1 Comment

  1. December 10, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I normally agree with your reviews, but not this one so much. I thought that there was a lot of depth and character development in it. For example Eustace’s character, and I thought Lucy’s temptation seemed very real. But as always your review is very well written. 🙂

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