Dawn Treader: DVD review
|REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS|
You have returned for a reason ... your adventure begins now!
The third chapter in the Narnia series to receive the makeover treatment is a delightful yarn that sticks very closely to the book's narrative. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is set three years after Prince Caspian, with the youngest of the Pevensie children, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) transported back to Narnia, along with new arrival, cousin Eustace (Will Poulter, Son of Rambow). Here they join the new King of Narnia, Caspian (Ben Barnes), where they are given the mission to rescue the seven lost lords, and save Narnia from the evil that is based on a dark island.
So begins a quest through uncharted waters that will require each of the children to resist temptations like beauty and power, and to conquer the darkness within them in order to defeat the threat to Narnia's people. The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader had the 3D factor to wow audiences in cinemas, but it does not hinder the film in small screen format. (Just to state that the DVD edition isn't the 3D version.)
Liam Neeson returns as the voice of Aslan the lion; if I was to offer one criticism it would be that Liam / Aslan is very underused throughout. As with the previous Narnia films though, when he is on screen, the messiah-like feline steals the scene. What the film does offer instead is a very intriguing plot that feels more of an adventure, which will ultimately please its younger audience.
Another plus point is the addition of Poulter as Eustace, who steals the show with his tomfoolery, and who is made to see the error of his selfishness in a very creative way. I must say I was skeptical of Poulter's inclusion after seeing him in E4's School of Comedy, but his performance here is enough to erase that painful memory.
Simon Pegg's animation rodent Reepicheep is in great form, with his constant battle of wits with Eustace providing comic relief, one of the highlights being Reepicheep teaching Eustace to sword fight. There is also the Lucy's sub-plot, and her insecurities about her appearance which works perfectly with green mist, and its ability to uncover a person's fears.
The action scenes are also fantastic and engrossing, with the highlight being an attack on the ship by a sea serpent as they approach the Dark Island. The scene is quite intense, and really benefits from the special effects. Those of us who can recall the BBC version certainly agree that is a much-needed improvement.
The scriptwriters (including Captain America's Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely) streamlined the story, cutting down on the number of adventures by combining them. In the book the boat would drop anchor on a different island for each adventure; the film has more than one adventure on the same island and also cuts out some of the uneventful stops in the book to take on food and water.
What Voyage of the Dawn Treader does offer that its old incarnation didn't was a minor cameo from Ice Queen Jadis, who was killed off in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. As the children and Caspian battle the temptations of the green mist, the white witch returns briefly to tempt Edmund, who as you know from the first chapter has history with her. There are also biblical undertones throughout this Narnia tale, more so than the previous films, with Aslan's kingdom akin to heaven. Is Aslan God? We'll leave it up to you to decide.
To summarise: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a good, old-fashioned adventure film, with plenty to make one smile. With the recent announcement of 'The Magician's Nephew' as the next story to be adapted, it is safe to say if it is in keeping with the standards set here we're all in for a treat.
Extras: Unfortunately, the disc is quite scarce of added features with just audio commentary by Director Michael Apted and Producer Mark Johnson and a small number of deleted scenes.
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader will be released on DVD April 8, 2011.
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