Note – There are going to be a few spoilers in this one sadly. I have a very specific way of reviewing this film in my head. The only way to do so is to spoil the ending. And even though the ending is incredibly predictable, I feel I must give you this alert, just so I don’t feel a sense of guilt as I spoil.
Title – The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader
Released – 9 December 2010
Running time – 113 mins
Age limit – PG
Phew, that’s a long title to type out, but two words were repeating over and over in my head from pretty much the beginning of the film. Oh dear. Oh dear. Oh dear.
Narnia is a much loved children’s book series for millions of people around the world, it’s hailed as a classic every where you go. The film adaptations, however, are anything but.
What the Harry Potter franchise managed to do was convert an also much loved book series into a much loved film saga. Where did it all go wrong for CS Lewis’ classic?
Whether it be that the stories may be slightly out of date to truly succeed in the film world we have today (which I don’t think is true at all) or that simply everyone in general has moved on from fairytales as a genre (if you can call it that) is another matter for debate.
What I do know for a fact, however, is that this is the last time we’ll see Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy on our screens, as the trilogy within the Narnia saga comes to a close, but whether we’ve seen the last of Narnia is another question.
Dawn Treader doesn’t take very long to get into the swing of things, one of the few things I liked about the film. It’s a brief interchange between Edmund and Lucy, and a brief introduction to Eustace, the irritating (yet very well acted) cousin of Edmund and Lucy.
Then something bizarre happens with a painting in their bedroom, and we return to Narnia, with no actual explanation of why they were called back. In the first installment, Lucy discovered the place by accident. In the second, they were called because Narnia was struggling and under attack.
In this one, there’s no direct explanation, we can only assume that Aslan called Edmund and Lucy to do a task he needed done, but that’s never specifically explained.
We gradually learn that a relatively unknown evil power is wreaking havoc in Narnian territory. King Caspian, Edmund and Lucy inevitably are entrusted with finding the source of the evil and stopping it. In order to do so, they must find seven Lords that have been lost for a very long time, and in particular, find their swords.
Their swords hold some sort of magic that can stop the evil, but only when all seven are placed together at Aslan’s table (obvious homage to The Last Supper, one of an incredible amount of religious references in the film).
What struck me about the film (I sadly haven’t read the books so I’m basing all this on the film) is that finding each of the seven swords was far, far, far too easy for our protagonists. Especially when considering this is meant to be an adventure film, of discovery and hurdling barriers set in front of them.
They would sail across the sea, unaware of their task at hand and find an island that should, but curiously doesn’t, be of Narnian rule. When they go on land, they are caught and kept under lock and key under the new ownership of this island, the identity of the owners is always hidden.
Whether that’s a screenplay error or a book error is unbeknownst to me. In their cell, they find one of the missing Lords who tells them what they have to do. That I have no problem with, it gives us the plot and sets the scene for the following ninety minutes or so.
From that point onwards though, the Dawn Treader (if I haven’t explained that before, it’s the name of the Ship that Edmund and Lucy stumble across when they go through the painting in their bedroom) is sailing in the supposed grand ocean of Narnia, and they stumble across four islands.
All of which conveniently have the swords and missing Lords on them. It’s all far too convenient for my liking. There has to be some sort of coincidence, yes, but there have to be misadventures along the way too, where they could go to an island looking for a sword, come across a giant man-eating-monster, battle and slay that only to find that the sword isn’t there.
It makes good viewing because it adds a bit of scope to the whole thing, rather than showing that our protagonists have an incredible amount of luck. Hell, at one point, they find three of the swords all at the same time!
I’m sorry, that’s not in the spirit of true adventure films. I actually don’t think for a single sword, apart from the last one, there isn’t an obstacle for them to defeat to get the sword.
The hardest it gets for them before the climax is that Caspian and Edmund have a bit of a personality crisis and have a mini face-off arguing who should lead the charge and take control of the newest sword they’ve found. It’s ridiculous.
To get back to reviewing. As has been obvious amongst everyone watching the films for the past few years has noticed, the four actors playing the children are, let’s be perfectly honest, dire. The film may be set in the Second World War, but that doesn’t mean that all of them have to speak in a pretentious, stereotypically upper class drone!
In an incredibly interesting story line, Lucy faces a personality complex as she wishes she was as beautiful as her not-that-beautiful-in-all-honesty sister. I saw it as an attempt to get into the mind of Lucy, as she is clearly the main focus of this film. A bit of character development, if you will.
Which is incredibly pointless because she’s not going back to Narnia ever again, therefore we’ll never see Lucy on the big screen ever again. That’s not to say that Lucy was poor in this film, as she did exactly what was asked of her to a pretty decent level. I’m not bemoaning her, I’m bemoaning the story.
Edmund, however, is woefully poor. I can’t be bothered to look up his name, simply because he’s never going to be in another film ever again, therefore we won’t need to know his name. See, I’m saving you valuable memory here. His pretentious upper class voice is even worse than Lucy’s.
Plot holes galore (why did Edmund’s sword light up in the final battle? It wasn’t one of the seven…), pretty bad acting and pointless moments lead this to a pretty terrible score for a much loved classic. I’ll give it a 5/10. The action was of a good standard and Eustace was really well portrayed, but that was about it.
You can read more reviews by RuhBuhJuh on his review blog, though we cannot be held responsible for the content of external blogs.