Keeping a film series going, even one that’s geared toward children, requires making the story and visuals as – or more – appealing than each of the former movies. Of course, few can overcome the spectacle of surprise and wonder usually revealed in a first film. Fortunately, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third of the series based on C.S. Lewis' books, is a great family film.
Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley
It’s been a year since the adventures of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian ended, and now young Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) take center stage in this 3D adventure. Caspian (Ben Barnes) has a new challenge. He must find the seven lost lords in order to collect seven swords – the only act that will save Narnia. Edmund and Lucy, who have been stuck at their cousin Eustace’s (Will Poulter) stuffy house in England, are selected to join him. While discussing their trip, Eustace enters the room criticizing everything about them and their ridiculous ideas concerning a non-existent land they call Narnia.
One of the best visual effects in the film takes place next when the three children are quarreling as Eustace points to a portrait of the Dawn Treader. While Lucy notices the waves are actually moving, Eustace further spews his disbelief. In an instant the portrait begins to pour a rapid waterfall out of the frame, flooding the room and sweeping the three youths into the ocean. They are immediately rescued by Caspian and the crew of the Dawn Trader.
Dragon & Reepicheep (voice of Simon Pegg)
Performances here are basically mediocre except for Poulter. He’s perfect as the confrontational and belligerent Eustace. Poulter is the one who evokes laugh after laugh in this story, which will surely charm children, especially as Eustace deals with things like the talking Reepicheep (voice of Simon Pegg), the valiant swashbuckling mouse, and when Eustace is transformed into a dragon.
Almost non-existent in this Narnia offering is the sight of the great Lion Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson). Although he’s referred to many times in the adventurer’s journey, his appearance is rare. Yet this doesn’t lessen the fun, for the adventures depicted in the movie boast everything to thrill young audiences. There’s the scary search in the dark abyss to hunt for the lost lords, Poulter’s funny antics, a serious subplot about Lucy wanting to be beautiful like her sister Susan, and of course, those storm tossed days aboard ship where anything can happen.
Georgie Henley & Aslan (voice of Liam Neeson)
It’s been a while since I saw the first Narnia movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe but I seemed to enjoy this episode the most. I like director Michael Apted’s even hand of direction for the film. Also, the story is easy to follow whether you’ve seen the other films or not; it’s just simple adventure and fun. The Dawn Treader ends up being a wonderful treat for the entire family.
Photo credits: 20th Century Fox