Dec 302010

Lea, the boys, and I are just back from seeing The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  We took in a 3D showing at Monaco Pictures.

The Chronicles of Narnia series is precious to so many people, and doing the stories justice on the big screen is a tall order.  This latest installment makes it three successes for three, as far as I’m concerned.  I’ve stayed away from reviews because I wanted to go in fresh, but I’d picked up the impression that this film might be a step down from the two previous ones.

That wasn’t my view at all.  The acting, the writing, and the production design are all excellent, and bode well for the future of the franchise after the studio handoff.  The CGI is perhaps even more relentless than in the first two installments—understandable, given the subject matter—but it’s never gratuitous.  The effects consistently brought me into Narnia, rather than made me pause and marvel at what was possible with computers.

In a rich cast with several plausible candidates, Georgie Henley emerges as the lead.  This is quite a skilled young lady, and she does a marvelous job with Lucy’s triumphs and struggles.  I loved her quiet strength.  Other standouts include Will Poulter’s Cousin Eustace, who is fun to (first) detest and (ultimately) cheer on; and Tilda Swinton’s Jadis, who is back briefly but memorably.

I think my 3D verdict is in, as well.  This is the seventh or eighth film I’ve seen in 3D.  The boys like it, and I suspect we’ll continue to choose it when it’s available on movie trips, but it doesn’t add value for me.  After the short-lived gee-whiz at the depth, what I’m most struck with is how much darker it makes a film.  (I suppose it does give me some novelty to anticipate on the Blu-ray.)

As effectively as these films have brought the books to the big screen, there are a few deviations.  This film includes an element or two of The Silver Chair, for example.  Some purists have denounced these changes, but I don’t think they’re such a big deal.  It’s obvious the intention is to tell the entire story with clarity and purpose, and there is enough brute force talent on this effort to do so.

Given the source material, all three films contain Christian themes, of course.  I think they’re most overt in this one.  The film has much to say about faith, temptation, and redemption, and even a bit about heaven.  During an already tender scene, this teared me up a bit:

“In your world, I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.” – Aslan, to Lucy and Edmund

Bravo!  Bring on The Silver Chair!


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 Posted by at 4:58 pm

  4 Responses to “Review: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”

  1. The “know me by another name” always gets to me, too, in the books and movies. Did you notice the cross-hook the painting was gingerly re-hung on at the end? Both my kids picked up on that with no prompting.

    Also, this movie wasn’t my favorite of the three, I’d give it a 7 for not going into some of the inner angst Eustace suffered when he realized he was a dragon. (Call me a purist, I have pet peeves.) But, I will give the movie this much – it really prompted some in-depth discussions from Lizzie about many a topic including why we can’t go to heaven before our time, etc. Plus the bit with Lucy being true to herself is great.

  2. I did notice the cross hook!

    I’m not calling “favorite” at this point. They’re all of a piece to me. Maybe I’ll rank ’em when they’re all in. 🙂

  3. I lost a bit of respect for Liam Neeson when he said Aslan wasn’t necessarily Christ – he could be Allah or anybody like that. Really? Look, I’m no Christian – far from it – and I’m not even a big C.S. Lewis fan (I FAR prefer Tolkien), but even I know Aslan is Christ!

    What the hell?! Do these Hollywood types HAVE to be PC?

  4. Falcon, it didn’t bother me. Neeson was careful to say that’s what the character meant to him, as opposed to making any comment on what C.S. Lewis intended, and I’m fine with that. I love Jesus, but I also recognize that I have many brothers and sisters raised in a different faith tradition, and I know in my heart that God claims ’em all. 🙂

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