Tuesday, 30 November 2010
FILM REVIEW: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER
A lot has changed since we were last in Narnia, least of all the stewardship of C.S. Lewis's series of fantasy novels to the big screen passing from Disney to 20th Century Fox. Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) is now King and seems to have lost his Spanish accent in the ascension; Reepicheep, the talking mouse, has also had a vocal makeover with Simon Pegg replacing Eddie Izzard; and the magical kingdom is now in 3D.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite Michael Apted replacing Andrew Adamson in the director's chair, Walden Media are still a producing partner which means Lewis's Christian symbolism is still employed as obviously as the flowing mane on Jesus, I mean, Aslan the lion.
Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes), the youngest of the Pevensie siblings, return to Narnia whilst staying in the country home of their cousin, Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter), a snivelling, pompous git and annoying as all hell (he could well prove to be this series' Jar Jar Binks). He's swept along, too, more's the pity, when a painting of the ocean comes to life, flooding the room and positing them in Narnia's East Ocean.
The trio are rescued by King Caspain who has set sail on the Dawn Treader in search of the seven lords who were banished from Narnia following his father's murder prior to (or early on in, I can't remember which) Prince Caspian (2008), the previous Narnia installment. It's when Caspian, Lucy and Edmund are called on to locate the seven swords of Narnia (in possession of the lords) and place them at the table of Aslan in order to prevent a mysterious force of evil rising up, that the plot resembles less the work of C.S. Lewis and more a computer game.
Despite a shorter running time than the previous films, Dawn Treader is the most tedious of the three Narnia installments, all of which have been workmanlike rather than inspired flights of fantasy. Unlike the Harry Potter films, where the world of magic is believable, wondrous and seemingly possible, the world of Narnia – talking animals, centaurs, minotaurs, and in this film, dragons – is effectively rendered but lifeless. And the 3D in this outing does nothing to help matters.
With the Harry Potter series set to end in July 2011, there will be a void for large-scale fantasy-action films for the family. With only two Narnia books left to film (chronologically speaking; there are 7 in total), time is running out for Walden Media and 20th Century Fox to rise to the challenge and successfully fill that void.