Here, the younger Pevensies, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes), with prig cousin Eustace (Will Poulter), take the helm. They’re swept up in a wave of brine cascading from a painting in their Cambridge home, to be reunited with Prince, now King, Caspian (Ben Barnes) and mouse Reepicheep aboard retro Elizabethan galleon The Dawn Treader. Island-hopping, incarceration, battles with ghosts, Barbary-style slave traders and the temptations of magician Coriakin’s enabling spells all ensue in the royal party’s quest for Narnian peace.
It’s an episodic progression, richly, kinetically rendered by new director Michael Apted – but one lacking real momentum or, in its widened group of heroes, stable identification figures. And, whereas Andrew Adamson (director of the first two films) had an affectionate take on the kids’ antiquated manners, Apted’s approach is more self-conscious – such that Henley and Keynes’s youthful heroism appears more naive or to be mere posturing. Likewise, as the film goes on, Apted is more mesmerised and swamped by the film’s 3D and other visual effects, which coarsens the charm and invites negative comparison with the grandeur of those provided by its ‘Potter’ or ‘Ring’ rivals. That said, this Narnia provides rousing enough young family entertainment – though there’s less to engage maturer Lewis fans and possible disappointment for older teenagers.
Cast and crew
I grew up on both the Narnia books and early BBC TV productions. Essentially, I lived and breathed Narnia. When the first film came out, I was very pleased with the result that modern technology could provide the fantastical elements of the film. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe really captured the essence of the story, but by the time the second came out, it was clear that the book had been thrown out the window, and flying in came Hollywood and the pressures, no doubt, of an American audience. (Of course, for instance, Susan will suddenly have a thing with Caspian RIGHT AT THE END), likewise, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader stank of Hollywood, of creative sacrifice, and money guzzling investors who think they know something about movies. Now I know that it is always a difficult thing to transfer the essence of a book onto screen, but this film was a real failure. Sure, I enjoyed it, but I won't treasure it. (Also, for gods sake, 3D? Does every film HAVE to be 3D now?)
It wouldn't feel like Christmas if there wasn't a new Narnia film to watch. Without the epic battles scenes or any moment as iconic as little Lucy crying over Aslan's dead body *blub* this third film feels the least 'Narnian' somehow. But so much care and detail has so evidently been put into the production and maintaining quality control that you'd have to be a real scrooge not to give this a solid 7 out of 10.
Delightful. A shaky start and, though the best I've seen, post conversion 3D don't help and it feels a LITTLE rushed but that's all the "downs" I can level. What's left is a lovely, thrilling, beautifully crafter action adventure with one of the best rendered Dragons I can ever recall. Unless "TRON 2" is a massive surprise, this is this years Xmas treat. Save those Â£1's and catch the 2D though. Like I said, good conversion, but not good enough. 7+/10