Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Time has soldiered on for the Prevensie children who we last saw a couple of years ago returning Narnia to its rightful ruler Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) in the film ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’. World War II is winding down to its conclusion while the oldest children Susan (Anna Popplewell) and Peter (William Moseley) are in the United States attending college. There is still a war going on in the real world and the seas are still dangerous which means that the younger children, Lucy (Georgia Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes), are stuck in Britain at their uncles house until it is safe for them to join the rest of the family. This stay is made more interminable by their cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) who is a bratty, pesky, no-it-all tattletale. Who could possibly like somebody possessing those qualities? But apparently Narnia is need once again as Lucy and Edmund are summoned to the fray, sans Peter and Susan, but plus Eustace and Caspian as the third film ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ launches its sail.

The Dawn Treader is King Caspian’s seafaring ship which is where our three children find themselves, though no one is sure why they are here considering Narnia seems to be well and Caspian has everything under solid control. But not so fast my friends because evil is in the air. Caspian and crew are on board the Dawn Treader heading to home of the The Seven Lords, seven men who formed the brain trust for Caspian’s late father and haven’t been heard from in ages. What they find when they make it to this island is nothing but trouble. Pirates, slave traders, fear, despair and an evil green mist. What exactly is this green mist? Well… it’s Satan for all intents and purposes, but this is a simple family film so I guess you can’t show Satan as the Bible describes him, that being beautiful and charismatic because I imagine that would confuse the children, and you can’t show him as Dante described as a horrific beast because this would scare the kids. I guess. So the filmmakers opted for a green mist. I haven’t read the books so maybe this how C.S. Lewis described it. Regardless, just roll with it.

This mist is nothing but trouble, kidnapping the good citizens of this island as sacrifice while growing in power. It has to be stopped, no doubt. To do this Caspian, Lucy and Edmund have to find the Seven Swords of the Seven Lords, one sword they already possess, and place these seven swords on the table of Aslan - the Godly lion in case you forgot – which will stop the evil of the green mist.

Easier said than done of course. The seas that the Dawn Treader has to navigate are difficult, and making matters worse is that this mist is along for the ride tempting our heroes to make bad decisions every step of the way. Lucy desires to be as beautiful as her sister Susan, Edmund is sick and tired of taking orders and playing second fiddle to the likes of Caspian while Caspian fears he can never measure up to the greatness set forth by his revered father. Eustace is greedy which will have its own set of repercussions on the boy. Regardless, invisible dwarves, starvation, dragons, serpents and the White Witch are the order of the day as Adventure Awaits.

So Fox has taken over studio duties from Disney for this third film as the word is that Disney and this film’s producer, Walden Media, had a little spat which naturally centered around money. Apparently ‘Prince Caspian’ didn’t make nearly enough money as neither entity would’ve liked, each blaming the other, so they parted ways and Fox stepped in. I really enjoyed ‘Prince Caspian’, even more so than ‘The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe’ which I also thought was very good, but for whatever reason ‘The Dawn Treader’ didn’t place me in the same good feeling state of mind as the other two films managed to do.

Michael Apted, a very fine film director, takes over duties from Andrew Adamson and maybe it is more complex than just a simple change of directors but ‘The Dawn Treader’ lacked the same sense of awe that the previous films seemed to deliver. Yes, there were swashbuckling sword fights and adventure and a tour de force finale featuring dragons, sea serpents, mayhem, peril and that silly green mist all filmed in glorious 3D… which we don’t really care for… but everything felt so run of the mill as opposed to the spectacular experience we were hoping for.

The story itself was solid enough, though it seemed to be dumbed down unnecessarily so, and we have to admit that green mist doesn’t make for a very good movie villain. The White Witch? King Mirasz? Good movie villains, particularly Tilda Swinton as the White Witch. The green mist approach is more of a concept as opposed to an actual, tangible bad guy. I mean if you can’t stab it, shoot it or choke it then seriously, what good is it?

None of this is to say that ‘The Dawn Treader’ was terrible in anyway. Georgia Henley is fine young actress, Ben Barnes improved his interpretation of the character of Caspian remarkably in the couple of years that has passed, Simon Pegg’s voicing of Reepicheep the swashbuckling mouse was fantastic and Will Poulter was suitably annoying as Eustace Scrubb. The characters overall were great, though the absence of Susan and Peter was notable, but we were simply expecting so much more from a movie that calls itself ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’.

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