Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) Review

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Director: Michael Apted
Year: 2010
Country: United Kingdom

Its been two years since the last Narnia movie, and I wasn't really looking forward to this one. That's the problem with the Narnia franchise, there is too much time between movies that people start to lose interest. I think that maybe if they made one each year, or at least in closer time instead of two or three years gap, the Narnia franchise could become something like the Harry Potter series, or at least close. And as I said, I wasn't really expecting much from this one. I'm glad to say that I was pleasantly surprised.

The movie follows Edmund and Lucy Pevensie and their cousin Eustace Scrubb who are sucked into a Narnia by a painting of a Narnia boat, the Dawn Treader. As the water from the painting starts to fill the room, the three are transported into Narnia where they're rescued by Prince (now King) Caspian and the crew of the Dawn Treader. Caspian is on a mission to rescue the seven lost lords and their swords to save Narnia from an evil that lives on an island that will soon escape and corrupt the whole country.

Narnia movies are no masterpieces. They aren't award worthy (save for technical aspects) and they aren't all that memorable. Nevertheless, they are still entertaining rides full of magic and enjoyment. And while Prince Caspian and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe are clearly superior to the Dawn Treader, the latter is still a good entry to the franchise, though still a weak one.

What I liked most about the film was its visual glory. Its special effects are very good and convicing. Just think about the green mist, crawling from behind in the dark. It was very convincing and very well done. The creatures and monsters were also very well designed, as well as the battle sequences had great visuals too. Also, its art direction is pretty wonderful too. The ship was very well done, as well as the edifications and even the rock formations were very good. The costume design is also very well done, and the camera work is fine too.

I also liked the performances, though nothing really special. All the actors did credible jobs, but nothing outstanding. I think worth mentioning is Tilda Swinton in her cameo as the White Witch as she tries to tempt Edmund. She was in the film less than a minute and she was still very frightening. Ben Barnes did also a belieavable job as Caspian, but I think he was better in the previous one. Gary Sweet as the captain Lord Dirian was probably my favorite performance. His mysterious and full of wisdom character was probably the most interesting.

I didn't like how the film flowed, though. It went by way too fast. I thought we were just in half an hour when they were already on their way to the dark island. And they get transported into Narnia in less than 10 minutes in, while in the past two we had to wait for some time before it happened. Though I think the battle at the end did go in appropiate time. Oh, and that's another thing, there is not too much action in this one, and while that's not usually a problem you have to take into account that this is an adventure film, and it is required that something happens as the movie flows.

I thought the story and the characters were weak in general. I didn't like how they tried to make Edmund fill Peter's role. He was the one who wanted to go back to Narnia badly, just as Peter did in the previous one, he was the one that was maturing, he was the one that felt jelous about Caspian (or that was rather in one scene, but still that was Peter's role in the previous one) and he was the one who wanted to be authoritarian. I also didn't like how Lucy wanted to be "as beautiful as Susan", but I guess that's important for her character to grow up. I thought that Caspian was just a useless douche who did nothing but just try to be a leader, and I really liked his character in the last one. And that Eustace kid was really annoying, though that was the idea, but when he finally found "the hero inside him" he was still annoying.

The film also tried to be other films, many which are superior. It tried to be Harry Potter in its quest for maturing, it tried to be the Lord of the Rings in the scene of the cave, Pirates of the Caribbean while trying to make the viewer feel like the sea's their home, and even borrowing from Stardust in the part of the beautiful star and Pan's Labyrinth in the Aslan table scene.

The film is pretty enjoyable. It has entertaining mythology and battle scenes and its power lies on the visuals. And while its story and characters are a little weak, the pace of the film goes in a flash and it tries to be what its not, it is still a good entry to the series. The previous two may be superior, but this is still a fun one.
My recommendation: Its an enjoyable family adventure. I would recommend it to fans of the franchise, or at least for people who are familiar with it, because maybe outsiders will find the film boring ad ridiculous.
My score: 68%

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