Narnia – A Retake

I went to see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader again yesterday in high hopes that I might think better of it a second time around. To be honest, I liked it better on the retake and have attributed this to the fact that we did not it in 3D. Yes, I still have several quips, and this was not my favorite of the movies by far (least favorite, actually), but it certainly wasn’t as bad as I had thought it was.
I feel very bad for saying what I did about it the first time, actually. Yes, I still think the character development was shallow, yes I am still an avid opinion-holder of the production quality being exceedingly bad, but the movie itself certainly isn’t egregious in its lack of these things. The diatribe I threw at it in the previous post was undue; I had gotten five and a half hours of sleep that day, having gone to the movie at midnight and seen it in 3D, and it probably impaired my judgement somewhat.
So, what new things did I see in Narnia the second time around that made me like it a little better?
Well, perhaps it wasn’t so much what I saw this time as what I didn’t see; with 3D being a better door than a window, and 3D not being involved this time around, I felt like I could watch the movie without an unnecessary distraction. The quality of the film still got on my nerves a little bit, but as I looked with a newfound viewpoint at the unfolding events in the movie, I saw something a little different. The dialogue wasn’t so cheesy as I had once thought, there was some characterization (though not enough for my tastes; the characters were, for the most part, stereotypical and superficial, in my opinion), but there was still that underlying lack of seriousness that put me off. There was no emotion, no real, nuanced relationships. It wasn’t authentic to me; it wasn’t real. I thought that the first two Narnia movies achieved this perfectly, though.
And Lucy wasn’t as uncharacteristically unbelieving as I had thought at first, either, and, in fact, she is fleshed out a good bit. Her struggles are the most poignant of the four main characters (herself, Caspian, Edmund and Eustace), but Caspian and Edmund’s are somewhat of a joke, simply because they aren’t touched on often enough. And Edmund is by far the most uncharacteristic of them all, typically during the scene when he is tempted by lake whose water can turn anything it touches to solid gold. He goes through a rant about how rich they could be, how they could rule over everybody and submit to no one else’s authority, but it was poorly executed and doesn’t amount to much more than a brief bicker between himself and Caspian, ending with Lucy telling them to stop behaving in such a preposterous manner. It was certainly a good idea, and they managed to connect it with Edmund’s animosity towards Peter, whom he always saw as above him – more important than him, but it just wasn’t powerful enough. I didn’t get anything out of that scene.
The real heart of the movie, at least when it comes to relationships (and, really, this is the only relationship in the entire movie to even be partially developed), is the one between Eustace and Repicheep. Eustace is about as querulous and annoying as a human being can get, but Repicheep is persistently nice to him, and even teaches him a thing or two about swordplay. The scenes where he tries to comfort Eustace as a dragon and encourage him on to greater heights and bravery are also wonderfully well done, and the relationship was established perfectly. But they fell short in every other place; where was Edmund and Lucy’s relationship? It was present in the first and second between all the Pevensies, including them,  but in this they neglected it. And what about Edmund and Caspian? Yes, at the end Caspian tells Edmund that he’s like a brother to him, but what, in the course of the movie, justified him saying that? It seems that all they do is fight with one another, and if they’re not doing that then they’re fighting against someone else at each other’s side. Lucy and Eustace? Not much. Edmund and Eustace? Not much, but justifiable, as they don’t really have much of a relationship anyway. And Caspian and Lucy? Nothing; as empty as the rest of them.
That’s what ruined this movie for me: The lack of depth. But that still didn’t justify saying such intense things about how much I hated the movie before. It isn’t my favorite Narnia movie, and in my opinion it’s not entirely good, but it isn’t entirely bad either. Depending on what you’re looking for in a movie, you may like this movie, and you may not, because the filmmakers focused on a different aspect of storytelling that I don’t enjoy as much. There were no fleshed out characters, no palpable, warm relationships, and no, in my opinion, beating heart that drove the story forward. I think characterization is am extremely important part of moviemaking that cannot be left out, but which was not given enough weight in this movie. The same towards the relationships; that’s half the reason why I watch movies, is to see the characters’ interactions with one another, their love towards each other and what they do to help each other out. But there was nothing of the sort in this movie, and that’s why I walked away disappointed. I could see so much potential that wasn’t fulfilled, so many things that could have been changed to found relationships, but these opportunities were always missed. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t good in its own right. Many people I know like it because they saw something in it that touched their hearts, and I am glad for them. But we are each affected by different things, and this movie was not one of them for me.
To conclude, the first two Narnia movies will forever remain my favorites, and I will return to them whenever I feel particularly nostalgic. Whether this movie takes the series in a better direction or not I cannot be certain, but Voyage was #1 at the box office this past weekend, so they must have done something right. I’ll cherish the first two in my hearts, remain disappointed with the third, and hope for better as the next ones are released. However, if they touched the heart of at least one person, then the filmmakers ought to be proud of their accomplishment. Three out of five stars for the next installment of the Narnia series.
God bless!


1 Comment

  1. December 13, 2010 at 4:09 pm


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