What I’ve Been Watching – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

narnia_3_dawn_treader_poster9.jpgJust 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.

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2 responses to “What I’ve Been Watching – The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

  1. I just got back from seeing it, and I agree that they could have told Eustace’s story a lot more coherently and strongly. Overheard on the way out: “I heard the next one’s only going to have him in it, I can’t stand him”. I saw this with the first film a distant memory and the second film an unwatched oversight, and I have to say it’s been wrought into a good standalone film. My memory of the original story from the books is also rather fuzzy, so that probably helped.

    I was also bowled over by the incredibly overt christian themes, even before That Scene At The End. There was a very real possibility for the book (and Aslan) to have been comprehensively declawed, but a lot was left in when it could have been easily written around without damaging the film.

  2. Given the importance of Aslan as a real and credible presence in the books, it would have been impossible to leave him out. I think people know what they’re getting from a Narnia film (a Christian allegory) before they go and see it. In the same way people knew about the themes of His Dark Materials trilogy before the first of those films came out.

    What’s interesting is that no one threatens to boycott films with overtly Christian messages. However, the Catholic Church and evangelicals in the US are only too willing to prevent films like The Golden Compass from doing well.

    Often as Christians we think we have it much worse than we do when it comes to releasing Christian films. At the current time it’s much more difficult to release a kids film with an anti-Christian message than a pro-Christian one.

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