After the poor reception of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Really Long Title, Disney decided to jump ship on the Narnia series. Seeing as this film was done by Walden Media and 20th Century Fox, and the fourth movie in the Narnian Chronicles is said to be in production, it seems like all of the Chronicles of Narnia are going to meet the silver screen. Strangely enough, I don’t know if I’m happy or sad to see the series continued. On one hand, I enjoy the stories they tell. On the other hand, I never actually want to watch them. Who knows, maybe I’ll decide while I write this ?
The story of TCON:TVODT is….wait…TCON. T-CON. That’s catchy! Anyways, the plot of this current TCON is that Lucy and Edmund Pevensie are stuck at the home of their tragically annoying cousin, Eustace. Now, I really can’t say much about the film before they’re transported into Narnia, not because it’s got any significance to it at all, but because they get drowned into Narnia in the first minute and forty-five seconds. It’s rather surprising that it’s such a quick jump to Narnia, but I guess most people can only handle so much about English culture. Soccer, Tea and Crumpets, stuff like that doesn’t inspire wonder in children. So, once the three children are into Narnia, they fall upon the plot of the “Dark Island”, invisible mansions and sea monsters. I’ll certainly be touching on the sea monsters again later. Freakin’ sea monsters.
I grew up skimming through The Chronicles of Narnia (or TCON, as the cool kids say), but I never had a desire to see the characters come to life. Mostly because I was afraid of my imaginings of those characters would be butchered by silly, British children. Luckily, that is kept to a minimum in this series, with Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes performing wonderfully. Also, Simon Pegg was fantastic in the role of Reepicheep. I didn’t even realize that it was him until the credits rolled, otherwise I would’ve been cracking Shaun of the Dead jokes through the whole thing. Once again, Jesus did a splendid job of voicing the lion Aslan…wait, do you guys not get the allegory? Oh…um…I meant, Liam Neeson did a fantastic job of voicing Aslan. I would also like to say that Liam Neeson is not our Lord and Savior. Sadly, I’ve got an exception. Will Poulter, who plays the irritating Eustace, takes the attitude of his character a bit too far in the first forty minutes. He’s going for the scoffy, intellectual Brit, but it goes a little too far. I mean, when you fall through a painting and talk to a minotaur, are you really going to continue to think it’s silly fantasy?! Fortunately, that kid is unable to speak for a good portion of the movie. Spoilers.
Let’s talk about good stuff for awhile, huh? First of all, the CGI was much better than I had expected in this movie. Usually, drunk men flailing about in puppet suits are good enough for kids’ movies, but The Dawn Treader seems to actually give a damn about how the film looks. I mean, it’s not like you’ll be stunned because you think they actually cast a minotaur, but at least it’s not Marmaduke. Ugh. Marmaduke, you evil, slobbery bastard. Really, though, I did enjoy the effects throughout The Dawn Treader, including that Godforsaken sea cobra. Yikes, I’m still not ready to talk about that.
Alright, enough about stuff I like in this film. Let me say right now, this entire movie is one big Kodak Moment. Every other scene is a child smiling and being in awe. Imagine a commercial for a prescription anti-depressant, now combine it with The Reading Rainbow and a Care Bear. That’s every other scene of this movie. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just kind of odd how many times it happens. My second complaint with this movie is that it beats you over the head with it’s messages. All of the things that they’re trying to say are practically spelled out for you on screen. I mean, really. Aslan is God, evil fog is a metaphor for the temptation of sin and the goat people….well, the goat people are just goat people. Still, we get it, C.S. Lewis. Not to say that teaching kids morals is such a bad thing, I really liked that it was teaching classic lessons like being kind, not being vain or greedy. I’m just saying that some subtlety would have been appreciated.
Alright, I think I’m finally ready to talk about the climax of the movie. Now, seeing as most of the movie takes place on a ship, you have to think, “What goes hand in hand with fantasy movies and ships?” Sea monsters, of course! Boy, oh boy. I need to make a confession to you, Wonderful Reader. Some people are afraid of clowns, others are afraid of spiders. Personally, I’m afraid of sea monsters. Seriously, it creeps me out thinking about it. Yes, even incredibly brave, heroic, and – dare I say – handsome men such as myself can be afraid. Especially out on the big, bottomless ocean. Ugh. So, when The Dawn Treader releases the Kraken(!), I was definitely on the edge of my seat. Not to say that your Average Joe will feel the same, I’m just telling you that I was pretty into the movie by the time they dropped the sea monster on us. So, kudos to the actors for creating a bond with the viewer and the fictional characters on screen.
Overall, I feel like I enjoyed The Dawn Treader. It was a fun movie with enjoyable performances from 95% of it’s cast and some impressive digital effects. Looking back on all of it, even though TCON: Prince Caspian was seriously boring, I really hope they keep making these books into movies. There’s nothing wrong with the stories and the movies, for the most part, have been an enjoyable third party to Harry Potter and Twilight. So, if you’re afraid that your kids will practice magic or sleep with dead people, take them to see The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It’s fun, visually gorgeous and a right step for the series.
I give The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
4 “Stay Puft Marshmallow Men” out of 5