The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

***1/2

Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

In a sea of family films desperately trying to win over youngsters with fly Facebook references and angst-ridden relationships - take a bow, Tangled and your ilk - there are still some filmmakers who find virtue in traditional storytelling. While Michael Apted's latest slice of Narnia never reaches the magical heights of the recent Harry Potter instalment, which also puts an emphasis on being traditional over cool, this is still a decently told kids' adventure in which friendships are tested and lessons are learnt.

It's true that Voyage Of The Dawn Treader - as with all CS Lewis books - lionises God in more ways than one, but Christians are not the sole proprietors of the moral lessons learned and the religious overtones aren't thrown in your face as much as they might be. Rescued by Fox after Disney got its fingers burnt when Prince Caspian failed to make as much at the box office as hoped (although $415 million is hardly pocket change), the acting crew remains largely unchanged, although it is bolstered this time with the addition of Will Poulter (Son Of Rambow) as the Pevensies' whining brat of a cousin, Eustace.

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The youngest Pevensies, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keyes), have been bundled off to stay with Eustace and his family thanks to the outbreak of the Second World War. It isn't long, however, before all three children are whisked away to Narnia, where Caspian (Ben Barnes) is on the hunt for seven magical swords to stop evil - a rather wishy-washy and vaguely drawn nemesis represented throughout by green smoke - destroying the world. What ensues is a seafaring adventure of tests and trials recalling the likes of Sinbad And The Eye Of The Tiger. Here it is not, thankfully, the green mist that is the real enemy but the characters' own faults and each of the children will find themselves tested by some of the finest 'deadly sins' on offer.

This 'evil from within' idea is the most interesting aspect of the film. As it is Eustace who has the biggest character arc, it is a relief that Poulter brings wit and ability to a role which requires him to interact with CGI swashbuckling mouse Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg) for much of the time. Which brings us to the special effects. Certainly, the creation of the various mythical animals is deftly done but the decision to retro-fit 3D to the action is a poor one. It is at best redundant and at worst distracting - save yourself the cash and take your family to the 2D version.

While the characters are at sea, the quest nature of the plot keeps things moving but once the action climax is reached, Aslan arrives with a grinding of gears to serve up a stodgy dose of "message" that attempts to pluck the heartstrings but feels tacked on and unecessary. Still, even if you rather wish the lion had stayed in the wardrobe, this is a solid entry in the franchise and well worth a look.

Reviewed on: 09 Dec 2010
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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader packshot
The Pevensie children and their brattish cousin Eustace are whisked back to Narnia on a quest.
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Director: Michael Apted

Writer: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Michael Petroni, based on the novel CS Lewis

Starring: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Gary Sweet, Terry Norris, Bruce Spence, Bille Brown, Laura Brent, Colin Moody, Tilda Swinton, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley, Shane Rangi, Arthur Angel

Year: 2010

Runtime: 115 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: UK

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