INTERN’S VIEW: Latest ‘Narnia’ Flawed, At Times Worthwhile Experience
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 / *****
[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.]