Monday, 13 December 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

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Dir: Michael Apted (Enough, The World Is Not Enough, Thunderheart)
Cast: Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Tilda Swinton, Simon Pegg (voice), Liam Neeson (voice)
USA, 2010

Seen: December 11, 2010 at Scotiabank in 3D

Reason to see: My sister Jamie's chose it for her birthday movie, plus I'm a big fan of the series so far - so much so that it's one of my most anticipated films of the year.

I'm a huge fan of the first two Narnia films and the fantastical world they are set in and the adventures of the Pevensie siblings. Although I wasn't a big fan of the books as a kid, (I read one and totally hated it!), but I've been following along with reading the series as the films come out and Voyage of the Dawn Treader was one of the books on my 2010 Book to Film challenge, and I quite enjoyed reading the book. But, this is a film review so let's get back to the land of Narnia.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third film in the series that have been adapted from the novels by CS Lewis. In this instalment we follow just two of the fours siblings, Edmund (Skander Keynes) and Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) along with their adventure-resistant/realist cousin Eustace (Will Poulter), in new adventures of the magical world of Narnia. Ben Barnes also returns as Prince Caspian, but without the accent used in the second film - which was a little surprizing, I quite enjoyed the bold choice they made with the accents in that film. It's one of several changes this time round, most notably a change in director from Andrew Adamson who did the first to films, to Michael Apted here. I also strongly noticed the change in music, as in this film it's by David Arnold (Casino Royale, Hot Fuzz) as opposed to Harry Gregson-Williams (Kingdom of Heaven, The Replacement Killers) who scored the first two. From those changes alone I feel like we are shifting from a fantastical tone to more adventurous spirit, and there is some truth in that as the story has a strong at-sea adventure tone but it's none of those things were the ones that left the strongest mark in my mind.

In fact, it's specifically the absence of a mark of my mind that left me wanting by the film. The personal journeys of Lucy, Edmund and Eustace felt very distantly connected to the overall story of the film. The adventures themselves, although there were lots of conflicts and challenges, didn't quite hit an epic scale as they had in the first two films. The tension was lower, and although the personal journeys were important they didn't feel as interwoven through either the grander story or within the siblings collective. I'll admit, I really missed Susan and Peter not being in this one.

In terms of the world, it didn't feel as much like a living, breathing magical world as we had fewer magical creatures kicking about and on top of that the religious undertones are more like overtones. One of the things I loved about the first two films was they found a sweet spot, toning down the religious themes of the books so that with the films there were notations for those who enjoy those elements which could enriching the experience but wouldn't exclude, isolate or shun people with different believe systems. That balance tipped a bit here as the messages were very direct, which I wasn't loving.

For this round in Narnia, I enjoyed the book more than this film version. I found the locations and actions weren't overly differentiated, and the time in between places felt rather fast and that there wasn't huge challenges or tension along the way. There was also way less magical moments, although what we do get is really special. I didn't connect with the characters and their journeys as much as I had in previous films. I was still very impressed with the performances particularly Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley & Ben Barnes, and look forward too seeing more of their work in the future.

Shannon's Overall View:
I liked it, but I wanted to love it
I'll buy it (completist - I have the others)
I'd recommend it to fans of the books & films so far

18 minutes of preshow including 9 commercials and 4 previews: Gnomeo & Juliet, Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon, Gulliver's Travels and Rio

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© Shannon Ridler, 2010

5 comments:

Allison said...

I'm a fan of CS Lewis (& my copies of the Narnia series are QUITE well worn) ...so I'm glad they've continued this series. I haven't seen Dawn Treader yet, but am looking forward to it now.

Too bad about the overtones - I agree with you about the 1st two - the undertones - golden rule-type thinking were what I enjoyed about them.

Sean Grey Hanson said...

I'm certainly a huge fan of Narnia's first two film too. What I like the most from this movie, is the visual effects ~_~. Absolutely incredible!!!

Jamie Ridler said...

I'm totally with you on this one. There was something missing, somehow. Maybe it was that shift from magical to adventure. Maybe it was that there was less about relationships. Maybe it was just Prince Caspian's accent!

Still, I had a great time going with great company and even the treat of popcorn!

Suzie Ridler said...

Oh what a shame! Especially picking up on the religious element, that would bug me. I didn't realize they weren't all in it, that wouldn't feel right either. I think this is a rental but R might want to go anyway. Now I feel prepared, thanks Shannon!

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

I hope you enjoy the film when you see it Allison! I wonder if they will keep going with them. Time will tell!

Sean - good note on the effects, they are good in this one two but I think I still like the effects in the first film the best, they were so a part into the world.

I think it was Caspian's accent, Jamie! I missed that. But I had such a great time on the outing to the film for your birthday!

It's a nice holiday pick for sure Suzie, if you want something fun and fantastical... well, more adventurous here, and lots of 'at 'sea'-ness - I bet R would enjoy that.

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