Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Just in time for the holidays, the third chapter in the highly successful Narnia series sails onto big screens with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley reprise their roles as Edmund and Lucy Pevensie. The film opens in England during World War II and focuses the young siblings are waiting out the war with relatives, while their older siblings are across the Atlantic in America. Constantly berated and harassed by their cousin Eustace, played with convincing brattiness by Will Poulter, Lucy and Edmund long for their time in Narnia.

It is during a moment of wistful reminiscing of their adventures, while gazing at a painting that reminds them of Narnia, that Lucy, Edmund, along with Eustace, are whisked away back to the magical land. Upon arriving in the oceans of Narnia, the trio are rescued by King Caspian who is delighted to see his friends. King Caspian is on a quest to locate the seven lost Lords of Narnia, who had been banished by his evil uncle prior to the events of the last film.

What follows is an epic journey as Lucy, Edmund, Caspian and his crew must travel to the end of the world and battle all manner of strange and bizarre creatures as well as confront their inner demons. The ever annoying Eustace finds himself an unwilling foil locked in a battle of wits with all manner of mysterious creatures, notably the talking mouse, Reepicheep.

The film cleverly mixes humor and action in a winning formula that has something to offer viewers of all ages. Younger viewers are likely to enjoy the fantasy elements of the film, while older viewers are sure to enjoy the action, humor and dramatic subplots of the film.

Visual effects in the movie are very good but I must take exception with Fox’s decision to convert the film into 3-D during postproduction. This has been an issue that I have long since spoken out against and, in the case of Narnia, the 3-D effects in the film do not stand out and add very little to the enjoyment of the film. I would have thought that a studio that set box office records with the spectacular visuals of Avatar would know better than to lessen the experience by doing a postproduction conversion. Sadly this has become all too standard in the industry and in my opinion greatly undermines the enormous potential of the new 3-D technology.

Walt Disney passed on the opportunity to make this film after having significant success with the first two film. They believed that the high cost of the production was becoming too much of a liability, but 20th Century Fox was eager to take up the mantle with the potential of box office gold on the horizon.

While it does not have as much charm as the earlier films in the series, the film certainly has more than its share of funny moments and action that will keep viewers entertained. The cast is strong and although his performance is limited to just a few scenes, Liam Neeson lifts the film again as the voice of Aslan. In the end this is a solid and entertaining family film that shows the series still has plenty of life left in it.