The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of The Dawn Treader
Review by Jack Foley
HAVING been set adrift by Disney following the relative under-performance of Prince Caspian, The Chronicles of Narnia franchise reaches its third instalment thanks to being taken on by Twentieth Century Fox and given a new lease of life. It seems to have benefited things.
Whereas the first two films showed signs of over-indulgence (courtesy of lengthy running times) and a little too much innocence, The Voyage of The Dawn Treader is lean and more grown up, combining top-notch 3D sequences and special effects with strong, traditional storytelling values.
It’s not perfect and there are elements that leave a bit to be desired, but in the main this is an engaging family adventure that does justice to the timeless words of CS Lewis.
The plot, this time, focuses on the youngest Pevensie children, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes), as they are reunited with Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) in Narnia aboard the good ship Dawn Treader along with their snotty cousin Eustace (franchise newcomer Will Poulter).
Their mission is to find the Seven Swords of the missing Seven Lords and defeat the evil emanating in the form of a sinister green mist from Dark Island, which forces people to give in to their temptations and insecurities.
The ensuing voyage takes them to several different islands and brings about encounters with past enemies, while forcing each member of the team to confront their inner demons and grow up.
Directed by Michael Apted, this latest Narnia film benefits from a much slicker pace and a far greater sense of impending darkness. It’s still light by comparison to more recent Harry Potter standards but it knows that its core audience is probably much younger.
That said, the young cast handle the emotional burden of proceedings well, especially late on, and throw themselves into the action sequences, which rate among the best in the franchise so far.
Admittedly, the episodic nature of the island hopping plot threatens to breed a certain repetitiveness while there’s very little in the way of surprises.
But Apted works hard to keep things fresh and lively, relying as much on the ongoing camaraderie of its well acquainted cast as he does the talents of his special effects team.
In terms of performance, Henley and Keynes continue to mature nicely in their roles, Barnes is suitably dashing and charismatic and Simon Pegg brings swashbuckling mouse Reepicheep an endearing quality. Poulter takes time to grow into the role but should eventually win audiences over, thanks in no small part to his dealings with Reepicheep.
Of the effects sequences, a sea serpent and a dragon provide the most obvious highlights but there’s plenty to help get you there and to dazzle audiences of any age.
All of which makes The Voyage of The Dawn Treader a worthwhile family outing that competently combines adventure and emotion to generally agreeable effect.
Running time: 112mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: April 18, 2011
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