‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ Review

Published 4 years ago by

voyage dawn treader reviews The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Review
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.

viewmaster The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader Review

Here’s a trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader:


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Our Rating:

3 out of 5

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  1. This movie was okay. Better than the 2nd one. Dialogue was a little cheesy at times. Special effects were pretty good. And Eustace was the best character of all..


      I felt incredibly ripped off by what should have been the heart of the movie, the un-dragoning of Eustace.

      1. It goes by in, I would say, less than a minute.
      2. It seems cut & paste edited, accentuating the brevity.
      3. It is interspersed with battle scenes, reducing its impact.
      4. There was no pool, and I don’t think there was talk of removing skin or removing “clothing” (as in the book).
      5. Later Eustace described his change with more detail than the scene itself communicated.

      I didn’t mind the redirected claw-on-ground in and of itself. However, added to the above, . Well, I didn’t mind it much.

      As always, what was added irks me more than what was left out. The magician charting their course was SO unnecessary. Tell me, what was the use of saying “you will be tempted” rather than just showing the crew getting tempted?

      I didn’t think it would pull off the sea serpent encircling Dawn Treader–it did it well. I think more was less in terms of the serpent’s mouth turning into moving barbs. The earlier serpents that Eustace fought were fine. The Duffelpuds were great, but I felt like Lucy did not spend much time with them. I’m kind of creeped out by pale glowing wispy-haired beautiful floating ladies in this series. The first was absolutely necessary. The others–couldn’t they just wait for WICKED II? They don’t belong!

  2. Sylar, I totally agree. I feel cheated about wasting my time, staying up late, and losing money. This film was aweful. The “de-dragoning” was my favorite part of the books, and the movie ruined it. Grrrr.

    So many parts were terrible. I understand leaving things out for time… but changing the order and the plot?? Is their goal to alienate us die hard fans??

    NOT seeing the next movie unless I can rent it at redbox for $1.

  3. Ditto on the de-dragoning, but also the initial “dragoning” — the gradual realisation upon awakening in the book is awesome (yeah, I know, hard to do visually, but have a go!)

    The funny thing is the only reference to those scenes was the gold arm-band… but despite using the book’s illustration in the closing credits, they put it on the wrong arm!

    The plotline of this book was always likely to re-arranged a tad (e.g. I have no problem with putting the gold water and the dragon plot on the same island), but the new “green mist = undefined evil” stuff didn’t exactly drive this tale along.

    Despite my bitching from a hard core fan viewpoint about various aspects (where was the second lion in TL,TW&TW?!?) I have to say the three films have occasionally really struck me emotionally — a huge part of that relates to the Best. Casting. Ever. of Lucy.

    As for the future: please make it to The Magician’s Nephew, and scare the crap out of a new generation. It freaked me out so much as a kid… It will be a bit weird if they get to The Final Battle in six or so years and use the original cast again, though!

    P.S. Is it wrong to laugh every time Susan appears, to point and chant “you’re going to Hell”?

  4. I’m curious, what do you mean by “the order of the films does not match the chronology of the books”?

    This is the 3rd book published, and the events follow those of Prince Caspian.
    There are two later-written books that would “fit” before and immediately after the very first film going by the internal chronology of the story, however, from my understanding of them, would be unlikely candidates for filming.

    • I think he means the internal chronological order with Magician’s Newphew being first and The Horse and His Boy third. However, this is the third Narnia book published and they were making them in the order they were published.

      I’m still going to see this movie and taking my students (I’m a youth minister) to see it as well; but we’ll definitely be reading (or rereading) the book for the dragon part because it truly is one of the best scenes.

      • ok, that’s what I suspected you were saying.
        I doubt, however, that they will be making The horse and his boy… it does not in any way involve any characters from the other stories.

        and while The magician’s nephew comes “first” in chronology, it isn’t a good idea to read it first, as it is additional information on the creation of Narnia and assumes you’ve actually read the subsequent books. Only the most “literalist” reading of the material would suggest reading it first. It serves as a poor introduction to Narnia.

        • Peter, Lucy, Edmond, and Susan all appear in a Horse and His Boy.

          Personally, I thought Magician’s Newphew was very good introduction into Narnia and the creation of Narnia beginning in song, the explanation of the witch, all of it I thought was a good origin story for Narnia.

  5. hi every1 the trailer looks’s pretty good to me i can’t wait to see it

  6. hey every1 does any1 know any other blog that is soooo coooooool

    • Screen Rant rules! I go no other place. Well, Rotten Tomatoes sometimes but just to get a feel for what other less important reviewers are saying. :-)

  7. I love the books. But, hate the movies.

  8. I think one of the things that helps The Potter films is that its the same chracters are used in ALL the books.
    Same central chracters anyway.
    Here, what areSusan And Peter doing in this film?
    They were not in the book.
    I heard one of the producers say on the radio , they are not even sure which one will be next.

  9. Gary S–you obviously haven’t seen the film.

    SPOILER ALERT (since this is in the movie and not the book).

    “Oh Eusaaaace! What are you doing up there? Jill Pole came calling for you!”
    [Audience cheers.]

    The “out of chronology” comment doesn’t fit. Lewis released the books in the order the story needed to be told. The chronological part of this tale is a “prequel” not necessary to understand the main narrative events of the Chronicles. The telling doesn’t ruin anything, just like reading The Gospel According to John prior to reading The Gospel According to Mark–or prior to reading Genesis–doesn’t ruin anything.

    First impression: I agree with Vic’s rating, but I’ve seen much better-written reviews from him. (There, I said it diplomatically.) Am I missing something–does it continue after a jump? It ends abruptly–although the View-Master comparison/photo is hilarious. I didn’t know about how the 3D was added after, but it was super lame. I want my $3.00 back and a disclaimer at the beginning of similar films.

    • Sylar’s Hunger,

      Yeah… here’s what happened – last night I procrastinated on writing my review of The Tourist and finished it around midnight. Was ready to call it a night when I noticed that Narnia was opening TODAY, which had slipped my mind with the thousand other things I have going on.

      Probably not my best work, but it gets the point across (I hope). I was also torn between giving it a 3 and a 3.5… still not sure but I had to pick one.

      I do appreciate the honest feedback.


  10. Come on now, be honest: Did anyone else “get something in their eye” when the dragon cried? Oddly, I had told people in advance that I’d probably be sobbing (thinking of the de-dragoning scene which SO let me down), but it’s the ending that got me emotional.

    I almost said that it “seemed hastily written.” But the View-Finder bit redeems it. No de-ViewFinding necessary for you!

  11. The movie was great. Yes it differs some from the books but doesnt every book turned to movie fall under than umbrella? Overall the movie was great and a good adaptation of the book. Some of you guys are way too critical. Especially when no one here could do anything even close.

  12. Sylars Hunger,
    I never said I saw the film.
    I was asking why Peter and Susan were in it .
    And I still think the fact that the series doesnt have the same characters all through the novels will hurt the franchise.
    Even Michael Apted himself has indicated that after the fourth film they are going to have a problem.
    His comments are up on Narniaweb.

  13. I thought the film was much much better than Prince Caspian.
    Dawn Treader is a great film to take the family during the
    Holiday Season. Dont Miss It.

  14. What a shameless massacre of the book. Seven swords? Dark evil around narnia? peter and susan?

    • agreed

    • yeah!
      Narnia is OKAY!
      Thats why caspian leaving for a trip to find the lords, but why suddenly it became “saving narnia”??!!

  15. I probably like this book more than most fans, and I was looking forward to this particular movie more than any other in a very long time (especially after the first movie, which set the bar pretty high — from that point forward, I was VERY much looking forward to the Dawn Treader). I know no movie adaptation can be completely faithful to the book, and I expect lots of changes and lots of things to be removed and so on, and I can accept that. And the trailers looked great, so I still expected a decent movie.

    After viewing it this evening, I am seriously disappointed. Almost 30 years of anticipation, and I can’t believe how much I didn’t like this movie. I wanted to walk out, but kept hoping it would get back on track, but then it would get further off track, and… I’d insert a stunned/angry/sad emoticon here, but it would mock me with its inadequacy.

    After a decent start, there were bits and pieces of the book interwoven with a bunch of new stuff, there was quite a bit of rearranging of the time line, and it just felt wrong. I and my 12 year old daughter (who also loves the books) were extremely bothered by the changes, especially the way they added completely new motives for the adventure (Green mist?!? Seven swords?!? What?), big changes in the order of events, and major tampering with many of my favorite parts of the book. Apparently C.S. Lewis didn’t know what he was doing.

    We decided we will need to personally remake this film. Financing might be a problem.

  16. I am not sure about the rest, but I feel that the Narnia movie series could do better with BETTER young actors and actresses. The four siblings just CAN’T ACT! You shouldn’t put wooden children in a movie like Narnia. I guess they were cheap to hire…and I believe that’s one of the reasons why Prince Caspian was quite a flop.

    I just watched an old movie called ’5 Children and It’ and the 5 young siblings (yup, including the baby) are so much better than the 4 siblings in Narnia.

    Quite a sad fate.

  17. Spoiler Alert!

    I’m a huge fan of the books and I enjoy the films as well, especially the 1st one–but why cut out the scene where Aslan appears as the lamb? This is arguably the most important moment in the entire Narnia series! That disappointed me.

  18. This movie has some of the worst dialogue I have ever subjected myself to in a movie. My wife LOVED the first one, thought the 2nd one was so-so and as the credits rolled on the 3rd I looked to my right and you could see the pain and disappointment in her eyes. To comfort her I put my arm around her and said, “Wow. That was horrible.”

  19. I imagine the reason Eustace, as the writer says, “steals the film” is because in the next book “The Silver Chair”, the Pevensies are not present. Eustace and his friend Jill Pole are the main characters in “The Silver Chair” and the ones who go to Narnia to save Caspian’s son from the White Witch (in the book she is also called the “lady in green”). This film needed people to like the character of Eustace because he and Jill will be the leads in “The Silver Chair” and “The Last Battle” (Book 7/Movie 5) as well.

  20. “cow-tow”??

  21. Before seeing the trailer, I was very excited for this movie as the Dawn Treader was my favourite book of the series. I was disappointed to know the story line was changed about the seven swords and green mists, but I decided to have an open mind.
    It sucked. The dialogue, camera work, changed story line, so much of this movie really sucked. I think the character of Euastace is what made me not hate the movie, but not enough time was given to Lucy and Edmund. As a adaption of the novel and a sequel to the first movies, it was horrible. As a stand alone movie, it was almost decent.