The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D review
|REVIEWS - MOVIES|
Is this the outing that will finally send the Narnia franchise into the Potter-sphere...?
When asked about his interpretation of Aslan in a recent interview, Liam Neeson had the temerity to reply that he believed the spiritual, omniscient lion could just as easily relate to either Mohammed or Buddha as he could Jesus. This heathen notion was swiftly dismissed by the Estate of C.S. Lewis who restated the late Narnia author’s intention that his books were thematically Christian, a fact made plain by his first novel The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, where Aslan sacrifices his life before later being resurrected.
Despite Lewis’ claim that his novels were mere supposition rather than allegory, nevertheless very few children’s books have the strength to nakedly portray such a fundamental dogma whilst being thoroughly entertaining reads. The fact is that if offered the choice between God and a Happy Meal most children would plump for the latter. As such, it is pleasing to report that the latest in the Narnia franchise, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, provides an enjoyable, thrilling journey which provides enough action and adventure to overcome any Christian bad vibes.
On their return to the magical land, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie find Narnia much improved under the leadership of their friend King Caspian. They meet him on his journey aboard the Dawn Treader in search of the seven Lords who had been banished under the rule of Caspian’s uncle Miraz. Joining them on this adventure as they sail towards Aslan’s country at the end of the world is their cousin Eustace Scrubb, a stuck-up prig with pretensions of grandeur that far outweigh his blatant cowardice. Hilariously portrayed by seventeen year-old actor Will Poulter, Scrubb strikes up a particular animosity with heroic mouse Reepicheep (voice by Simon Pegg) as he struggles to come to terms with a new land and talking beasts.
Apart from the introduction of veteran television director Michael Apted, who notably helmed the 1999 Bond film The World Is Not Enough, there is a certain amount of continuity to what has become a lucrative, though not yet explosive franchise in quite the same manner as Harry Potter. This comparison seems to hold good with lead actors Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes, who as Lucy and Edmund produce mature performances certainly equal to those of Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe. It is interesting that despite only being ten years old at the time of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, neither Henley nor her three young co-stars ever reached the same level of celebrity as their Potter peers, whilst Keynes and Radcliffe both attended City of London School for Boys, though two years apart.
However, along with another assured performance from rising star Ben Barnes, there is no denying that much of the humour and charm seeps out of the pores of Poulter’s Eustace Scrubb as a stereotypical posh snob who is forced to confront reality within the confines of a fantasy world. His confrontations with Simon Pegg’s Reepicheep are some of the film’s most amusing and touching scenes. He is a great find and will undoubtedly have plenty of future opportunities to develop his craft further.
My one question mark over the film is whether there was really any need to turn this into 3D, as the technology didn’t seem to be used particularly effectively. Of course it is the latest fad, but given the extraordinary publicity budget which includes this year’s Regent Street Christmas lights, you have to wonder whether it has become an obligation for large budget pictures rather than a boon.
With Prince Caspian only returning a mediocre $419 million on a $200 million-plus budget, there must be a certain amount of pressure on producer Andrew Adamson this time around given that the Harry Potter franchise averages twice that amount. However, despite not having the cream of British acting talent playing supporting roles, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is an enjoyable family film that should hold the attention of children as well as accompanying adults no matter what their religious beliefs.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader goes on release in the UK on December 9th
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