Summary: Should you see the movie, get it on DVD or Blu-ray? This review will help you decide whether or not to part with your hard earned cash.
By Uzor Chinukwue, May 2011
The Chronicle of Narnia The Dawn Treader’s Production woes
The preponderance of children’s fantasy literature in recent years has inevitably led to a rise in numbers of their big-screen incarnations. The Chronicles of Narnia series is right up there in the upper echelons of fantasy, children or adult, and so the makers of the Hollywood big budget films have a rich source to draw from. The series started with the much-anticipated Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (Production year: 2005) and continued with the less well-received Prince Caspian (Production year: 2008). The series then encountered the first of its troubles when Production Company, Disney, first delayed then cancelled production of further instalments due to the poor returns from their investment in the Prince Caspian movie.
On the whole the films did not do too badly, grossing $1.2 billion on their worldwide release, but it was escalating production costs that endangered production of the rest of the 7 stories in C.S. Lewis’ mammoth tale. Enter 20th Century Fox as new distributor and a cutting of a budget of $225 million to the more austere looking $125 million and the film, like Aslan, was again resurrected. This time reception of the film and its performance at the box office has gone well (the Independent wrote in December 2010 that it had grossed a reported $124.4 million, thus already making up its budget.) It’s inevitable then that the series will continue, especially as the end of the Potter franchise will leave a vacuum in the children’s fantasy market.
The Dawn Treader at a glance
The Pevensie kids return for this third instalment of The Chronicles of Narnia series. The film starts with Edmund (played by Skandar Keynes) standing in line to join the army, presumably to get sent to the front where he’d have the kinds of adventures he had in the first two instalments of the series, adventures which he misses in his dull life in Cambridge where he’s been sent to stay along with his youngest sibling Lucy (played by Georgie Henley).
He fails in his efforts, of course, when he’s found to be just a boy. Together, both he and Lucy complain about their dull life and the fact that they miss their older siblings who are off adventuring in America. They’re joined in the room by their quibbling cousin Eustace Scrubb (played by Will Poulter); he’s new to the series but will most likely be making further appearances in future sequels. While they argue over petty nonsense their eyes catch a painting on the wall of a ship at sea. It’s “Narnia-like,” Lucy comments, and so it’s no shock when we discover it’s a magic painting.
The painting begins spurting water and soon Lucy’s little bedroom is completely submerged. They then find they’ve been transported to the land of Narnia; but what to do about being stuck out in the middle of the ocean? Price Caspian from the second instalment in the series, and played by Ben Barnes, comes to their rescue. Caspian is now Prince of Narnia and has managed to bring peace to most of his country. But he’s set out on a voyage with the crew of the Dawn Treader – the ship in the painting in Lucy’s room – to rescue seven lost lords and halt a corrupting mist that threatens to engulf the land.
Should you see this movie?
Well, one thing that is to be said for the film is the special effects are spot-on. We’ve already been spoilt by films overladen with CGI and so it’s rare to actually look at a movie and go Wow! How’d they do that? There are many such moments in The Dawn Treader, like the talking animals – the ever-impressive-to-look-at Aslan and the master swordsmouse Reepicheep, interacting faultlessly with their live-action colleagues, a mystery enchanted castle, mermaids, and sea creatures.
The glossy-ness of the whole thing is likely to make you smile and leave the kids occupied for the duration of the movie. But on the story side I’m afraid the movie lets down in the end. Michael Apted who helmed the James Bond movie, The World Is Not Enough, directs, and moves from one scene to the next in a pacey but ultimately emotionally vacuous style.
This may not appeal to diehard Lewis fans who may want closer and truer adaptations of his books. It may not work for movie connoisseurs, who look for a little more emotional depth in a movie. But on the whole, I think it will work for everyone else: families who want a film the whole family can watch on a dry Sunday afternoon, parents who want to put in a DVD or Blu-ray to keep the kids occupied while they catch up on some much needed rest, and even the normal everyday enjoyer of movies who just wants to see a little bit of magic on the screen before a night out. The film may not be classed as a great one, but it’s certainly a good one and one that will ensure production of further instalments in the series.