INTERN’S VIEW: Latest ‘Narnia’ Flawed, At Times Worthwhile Experience


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by Philip Benais

The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader; Directed By Michael Apted; Starring Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Will Poulter, Ben Barnes, Liam Neeson and Simon Pegg.

I must admit I’m rather late to The Chronicles Of Narnia films; seeing as how this is the first film I’ve seen and I’ve only read The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe, I can’t say I know very much about C.S. Lewis’ epic saga. I do know that ever since the first Narnia film the entire series had the air of trying to cash in on what are probably much better books, and that many elements were lifted without shame from other popular fantasy films. What I expected Voyage Of The Dawn Treader to be was a slim retelling of the book with lots of fluff and special effects to fill in the rest, but that wasn’t the case. This film is flawed, but in a charming, nostalgic way that harkens back to films we all watched as children and were amazed by. At times it can be very by the numbers and linear but there are genuine moments of entertainment to be had, so long as you don’t think about it too much.

The story follows Edmund and Lucy, the two youngest Pevensie children staying with their snooty cousin Eustace as their brother Peter is studying for his university entrance exams and Susan is in America. After a routine day of bickering with their obnoxious twerp of a cousin, Lucy discovers a majestic painting that pulls Edmund, Lucy and Eustace into it. When they arise from the water, they find themselves in Narnia once more where King Caspian is in need of their assistance. Together, they have to find seven mystical swords and present them at Aslan’s table to defeat a green mist kidnapping citizens. It’s an adventure that will change Lucy, Edmund and all of Narnia.

Right off the bat, the immediate problem I have with this film is Eustace. Many different things come to my mind when trying to describe Eustace, all of them slanderous. For the majority of the film, I wished SOMEONE would shut him up, so I wouldn’t have the compulsion to vomit uncontrollably. Thankfully they do manage to fix his character at the end of the first half, but it never managed to resolve how annoying he was beforehand. It also doesn’t help that Edmund, Lucy and Caspian are colossal bores. I appreciate the fact that they’re trying, but in the end I was still wishing the dialogues between them were shorter and that Reepicheep (played with subtle precision by Simon Pegg) would end up being the actual hero. For a good portion of the film you also have a distinct feeling of deja vu. This isn’t to discredit C.S. Lewis, but more to discredit Michael Apted, for giving us a Narnia film that feels like a rip off of Harry Potter, Labyrinth and many more. How can you take an epic saga and reduce it to Fantasy Flavor Of The Week? Ask Michael Apted, he’ll be glad to tell you.

Having said that, there are some very positive things in this film, the main ones being Simon Pegg and Liam Neeson, who is so awesome I’ve created my own saying whenever I see him in a film. (Nobody Messes With Liam Neeson. At least that’s the censored version) Both Pegg and Neeson give their characters extraordinary staying power and you’re more likely to remember them than the other characters. Also, as much as I rag on this film for being predictable, they did manage to give the ending some emotional weight, lulling us into thinking this may very well be the last we see of Narnia. (Which is hogwash, but still) The special effects are also very nice, and even though I didn’t see the film in 3D, it was very pretty and atmospheric.

Unlike the majority of films I’ve reviewed thus far, Voyage Of The Dawn Treader isn’t particularly good or particularly bad; it walks the line between the two at different times and manages to give us a flawed, if at times worthwhile experience. I would recommend it solely on the basis of Simon Pegg, Liam Neeson, the ending and the special effects. In essence, a great diversion in preparation for more substantial fare coming in the new year.

Rating: ** ½ / *****

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: Philip Benais is our newest Intern, a 16-year old student at Big Picture High School in SeaTac. He’s an aspiring Writer who loves movies, so we let him write reviews for us.

Read more of his work here.]

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Comments

12 Responses to “INTERN’S VIEW: Latest ‘Narnia’ Flawed, At Times Worthwhile Experience”
  1. Joe says:

    dude. eustace was supposed to be annoying,

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  2. gromy says:

    whats flawed is this review

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    • Coverofnight says:

      Just saw the movie tonight with 2 of my kids………I totally agree with you Gromy; I give the movie 4 stars for great entertainment.

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  3. blue526 says:

    Philip, I think you might appreciate the whole Narnia experience more if you do read the books, beginning with The Magician’s Nephew. I think you’ll find that Narnia doesn’t lift elements from other fantasy films, but rather that they have borrowed from C. S. Lewis.
    You’re right, Eustace is annoying; in fact one of the best first lines in a book ever, I think comes from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader…..”There once was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” The book does do a better job of describing his transformation and how Aslan changes him.
    I think books always do a better job anyway…but I think you might really enjoy them…I didn’t read them until I was 30 and then I thought they were the most magical things I ever read.

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  4. Philip Benais says:

    Joe,

    Regardless if he was supposed to be or not, it was irritating and detracted from the film. Chris Tucker in The Fifth Element was probably meant to be annoying, (like Chris Tucker ALWAYS is) and even though that was a good movie, it suffered because of him. Like I mentioned in the review though, they DID fix his character with the whole dragon thing and after he turned back but it was still grating in the beginning.

    Gromy,

    Oh no, my writing has been called flawed by someone who has no sense of grammar. I feel so offended, I might just jump off a bridge. Then again, it’s fun getting comments from morons like you, it keeps me on my toes. Here’s a question, why don’t you try and write your own review? Oh, that’s right, I’M the film critic writing for a respected blog and you’re some poor schmuck with an internet connection. Do you honestly have nothing better to do than troll something you didn’t like? I could understand if you laid out constructive criticism, but you just made some quip that we’re all supposed to laugh at. Do us all a favor and try re-assessing what you put on the internet , so we don’t all see what an imbecile you really are.

    blue526,

    I SHOULD check out the Narnia series, and I’m putting them on my ‘to read’ list. Thank you for the recommendation though. What I was really trying to say with borrowing elements from other films is that Voyage Of The Dawn Treader just had so many things I recognized from other fantasy movies, but I’m sure that you’re right when you say that they REALLY come from C.S Lewis since he came before all of that. However, seeing as how I read The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe in third grade and I’m more familiar with films than fantasy novels (my favorite novel genres are sci fi and noir actually) it seemed like a valid criticism. Point taken however, and I appreciate the feedback.

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  5. Coverofnight says:

    Wow, “thin-skinned” comes to mind!

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  6. Philip Benais says:

    Coverofnight,

    Thin skinned eh? Yes, I’m so thin skinned that I was actually hurt by what Gromy said. Took me a whole five minutes to recover. I even needed a potty break. God knows how I’ll be able to sleep at night knowing someone doesn’t like me, boo hoo hoo.

    Smart aleck? Yes. Bit of a prick? Yes. Thin skinned? In this business, how could I be?

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  7. Nicky says:

    This was disappointing. It can be so inspiring to hear from high school students and to give them opportunities to be heard as they should. A review was written and some feedback was provided in response to it. What followed from Philip was a defensive, immature attack to those that responded. Too bad, but high regards to you Philip for putting yourself out there.

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  8. Rainycity says:

    Heh-heh

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  9. TcB says:

    Best practice for you Philip is to let the comments lie where they are, and continue to improve on your review style. Take constructive criticism where it is applied and ignore useless criticism. Because your name is attached to your review an attack (and yes, you attacked) is a stain on your credentials. Human Resources search Facebook, Blogs, all over the internet to paint a picture of your personality before hiring. Tread more carefully.

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  10. Rainycity says:

    Critics being criticized,, then criticizing their critics, ahhh, the irony of it all….
    Everybody`s allowed to his or hers own assessment and or opinion.
    Even the c.o.n. man

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  11. Philip Benais says:

    I’d just like to say something to everyone who commented, possibly bring a sense of closure to this mess.

    I realize now that it was ill-tempered and short sighted of me to react in the manner I did, and I also acknowledge that that kind of behavior isn’t warranted or welcomed in any sense. However, seeing as how we are all only human and make mistakes, that in the spirit of the season we could forgive one another and continue to move forward. You have my sincerest apologies.

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