Screen Rant’s Vic Holtreman reviews The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Will this be the final Narnia movie? I suppose the box office will tell – While the first film, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe grossed $745MM worldwide, Prince Caspian did little better than half of that. The consensus is that each film is not quite as good as the one that came before, and we’ll see if Dawn Treader’s box office goes along with both the financial and critical trend.
In this third film (and the order of the films does not match the chronology of the books), Lucy and Edmund Pevensie (Georgie Henley, Skandar Keyne) are stuck living with a dismissive uncle and bratty cousin Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter) in England, while older brother and sister Susan and Peter (Anna Popplewell and William Moseley, who are limited to brief cameos in this film) are off living in America. At 17, Edmund is still suffering from “younger brother complex” while Lucy is transitioning from being a girl to a young woman. Lucy also suffers from older sibling envy, wishing she was as beautiful as Susan.
Edmund is having a tougher time adjusting to life as a regular teenager in WWII England – after having been a prince in Narnia, having fought battles, etc. It is especially difficult in light of having to cow-tow to cousin Eustace, who is played with delightful annoyance by young Poulter. Eustace is a “realist” who makes fun of Lucy and Edmunds’ “fantasies” about Narnia. This may as well be a brother and sister version of Harry Potter living with his terrible extended family – of course this story was written LONG before the Harry Potter books.
Soon (of course) Lucy and Edmund find themselves drawn back into the world of Narnia, where they once again meet Prince (now King) Caspian (Ben Barnes). The CGI rat Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg) is back as well. A bit of a wrench is thrown in the works as whiny Eustace has made it into Narnia with our intrepid young veterans. It seems a darkness is descending across the land, and since Susan and Peter are now too old, Edmund and Lucy have been summoned back to put things right.
We’ve got hand to hand combat, sword fights, a dragon-shaped ship and a giant, tentacled creature that will give the Kraken a run for its money. It’s a beautifully shot film, but once again the heroes are not the highlight. Will Poulter as Eustace steals the film – he’s the kind of character that you’ll love to hate… the epitome of smarmy. And of course it’s no spoiler to say that he has a change of heart by the end of the film. Another highlight (for me, anyway) is Simon Pegg as Reepicheep – maybe because so much of his time was spent with Eustace.
So what about the leads? I just don’t know… while they demonstrated more depth than in the previous films, there is still some magic ingredient missing here. I’ve always felt that these Narnia films seem to be devoid of a soul – ironic considering the source material. While the Harry Potter movies (for example) feel rich and deep, these films seem to have everything on the surface. I’m not saying all the blame rests on the shoulders of the young leads – but there’s definitely a spark I’ve yet to find in these films.
And then there is the good old 3D issue. The film was not shot in 3D, but had it added in post production. I’ve said many times that I’m not a fan of “after the fact 3D” – but I will say that this film had the best of that variety that I’ve seen to date. It wasn’t AS distracting as the post 3D I’ve seen in other films, but that’s still not to say that it’s good in an objective sense. To me, even the best post-production 3D makes me think of the pictures I used to see when I looked at those little circular slides in those old stereoscopic Viewmaster toys: A number of 2D items each placed at a different distance from the camera.
Here’s a trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: