Just when you thought the award for longest movie title was sown up by a certain boy wizard comes The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Coming with a new director and a new distributor, how does the latest film in the saga compare to its predecessors?
For me, the book The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was always the least cinematic of the three films focussing on the Pevensies. With little plot to link the islands the titular ship together, it makes for a rather disjointed read. Its strength lies in its redemption of Eustace and the journey his character goes through.
The film gives a much stronger purpose to all the island-hoping as the characters try and stop the evil fog that’s making the islands’ inhabitants disappear. To do this they need to find the seven swords of the seven lords. Also added in are much stronger character arcs for Lucy, Edmund and Prince Caspian.
Unfortunately all of this comes at the expense of Eustace. His transformation (both literal and metaphorical) is handled in a much less interesting way. In particular the choice not to include an inner monologue takes away a large part of what made his story so gripping.
The problem with the rest of the story is that it’s simply not that interesting or surprising. The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is a classic book. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is not. The film suffers because it doesn’t know what story it wants to tell. Instead, it comes up with a more interesting plot, at the expense of less interesting themes.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was Walden Media’s chance to reignite the franchise after the dsiappointing box office performance of the underrated Prince Caspian. However, it lacks the magic and the danger that made its predecessors so much more interesting.