Star cast: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Liam Neeson (voice), Simon Pegg (voice).
Director: Michael Apted
Plot: Lucy, Edmund, their priggish cousin, Eustace, and King Caspian undertake an adventurous voyage aboard the Narnian ship, The Dawn Treader, in search of seven swords that will enable them to destroy an evil island and reach lion Aslan’s home at the end of the world.
What’s Good: The magical world and people of Narnia – the script is an adventure, which kids will love.
What’s Bad: The slow pace with which the story progresses in the initial reels.
Verdict: The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader is entertaining fare for fans and kids.
Loo Break: None.
Fox 2000 Pictures and Walden Media’s The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader is a continuation of the franchise’s earlier two films, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005) and The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008).
For the uninitiated, the Narnia films are about four brothers and sisters – Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy – who are transported to the magical land of Narnia. Narnia is full of talking animals, witches and the like. In the first two films the kids help the Narnians and their Prince Caspian wrest the kingdom from the hands of The White Witch and King Miraz. The most revered figure in Narnia, Aslan – the talking lion – comes to the kids’ aid time and again in their fight against the evil.
The third edition of the Narnia series starts with Lucy and Edmund spending their time in England with their priggish cousin, Eustace Scrubb, while Peter and Susan are in America with their parents. Eustace, who believes in logic only, mocks his cousins for continuously talking about their imaginary adventures in Narnia. That is, until they are unexpectedly drawn into Narnia when a painting of a ship on the wall of Lucy’s room comes to life, and the three children fall into the ocean to be rescued by the Narnian ship, the Dawn Treader.
On board the ship, Lucy and Edmund are greeted by their friend, King Caspian, who is on a quest to find the seven lost Lords of Narnia. While Lucy and Edmund are delighted to be back in Narnia, Eustace is perturbed by the talking mouse, Reepicheep, and keeps sulking. After days of being on sea, the Dawn Treader reaches the Lone Islands, which is supposed to be Narnian territory but has been taken over by a few slave traders. Caspian, Lucy, Edmund and Eustace are kidnapped by a slave trader to be sold. While Lucy and Eustace are being sold as slaves, Caspian and Edmund find one of the seven lost Lords, in a dungeon. Caspian reveals his identity to the Lord, who then tells him about the mysterious mist in the Eastern ocean that makes people disappear. He also tells them that the Lords set sail a long time back to defeat the mist but failed. In the meanwhile, the crew of the Dawn Treader rescues Caspian and reclaims the island for Narnia. The Lord gives Caspian his sword, one of the seven that are required to defeat the evil.
Moving from island to island, braving the rough sea and falling supplies, the crew of the Dawn Treader comes across a magician, one legged invisible creatures and even a star! Edmund, Lucy and Caspian discover that they must place all the seven swords at Aslan’s table for the evil to be defeated. But there is a problem: Eustace has been converted into a fire-breathing dragon and hence, cannot ride on the ship. How will the kids and Caspian complete their quest? Do they find the seventh sword, hidden deep inside the evil island where one’s fears come true? Will they meet Aslan at his home at the end of the ocean?
Narnia fans, especially children, will find the screenplay, penned by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni, based on the novel by C.S. Lewis, very exciting. Although they will get to meet Aslan towards the end of the film, Peter, Susan and The White Witch make very small appearances in the film, which is disappointing. Also, the story progresses rather slowly in the first half. Having said that, it must be added that the writers have taken enough care to make the latter part very interesting. The script, as the original novel, is replete with magical creatures, spells and tricks. Hope and nobility are the overall themes of the screenplay. Point in case is the beautiful scene, were Reepicheep keeps Eustace company at night, when the latter is sad about being converted into a dragon. The dialogues are good.
Georgie Henley, as Lucy, is adorable as ever, although she has grown in age over the three films. Skandar Keynes, as Edmund, and Ben Barnes, as Caspian, are effective. The surprise package is Will Poulter in the role of Eustace Scrubb. He will make the audiences laugh with his stupid smugness. Tilda Swinton, as The White Witch, Anna Popplewell, as Susan, and William Moseley, as Peter, have very brief roles. Liam Neeson (voice) as Aslan and Simon Pegg (voice) as Reepicheep, the noble mouse, are memorable and will appeal to the children.
Michael Apted’s direction is okay. Technically, the film is as good as it gets. The visual effects – Aslan, the great lion; Reepicheep, the mouse; and the dragon, all computer generated – are superb. Cinematography by Dante Spinotti is very good. The islands, especially, have been shot very well. The film has also been converted from 2D to 3D by Prime Focus, and the conversion is slick. Editing (Rick Shaine) is good. He could have done with a few more cuts in the initial reels though, especially during a few lengthy conversations on board the ship. Music (David Arnold) suits the magical theme of the film.
On the whole, The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader is an entertaining fare. It will bring the Narnia fans – the children and the older generation alike – to the cinemas.
The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader will release in the UK on 9th December and in the US on 10th December, 2010. Released in India on 3rd December in 2D and 3D.