by Christine Autrand Mitchell
Director Michael Apted helms the third installment of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which opened this weekend. His trademark focus is characters and actors whose performances are Oscar contenders. So this time we don’t focus on the four siblings who save Narnia, instead we find ourselves with a fabulously witty narrator in their cousin Eustace played by Will Poulter (you may remember him from “Son of Rambow”) – who is also comic relief and occasional hero.
When the two younger Pevensie children, Lucy and Edmund, played by Georgie Henley ad Skandar Keynes, are stuck in the country out of harms way during World War II, their obnoxious and erudite cousin, Eustace Scrubb, unwittingly discovers that the crazy stories the children so often dwell on about a magical land turn out to be true.
In a whimsical transportation from Lucie’s bedroom, they are picked up in the ocean by the Dawn Treader, where Prince Caspian, again played by Ben Barnes, sans accent this time, and his crew are already embarking on a mission. The adventures to uncharted waters, heading ever closer to Aslan’s land, is set once the two royals arrive.
We have a few familiar characters, like Tavros the minotaur, and the brave rodent Reepicheep, played by Simon Pegg. The valiant rat is the philosopher for this venture, “We have nothing if not belief,” he states, and becomes Eustace’s fighting tutor. The villain in this installment isn’t just one person, not the White Queen or an evil king, it’s closer to the heart, more along the Christian parallels C.S. Lewis intended, things like fear, greed and vanity. The heroes are saving more important things than lands in this volume as they travel into uncharted waters to mysterious and strange islands.
I found fault with some special effects that were certainly not up to standards, leaving in some CG markers as if they’d run out of time to remove them before releasing the film and hoping no one would notice. There were some trite and purposeful characters that took me out of the story completely to focus on their “acting” and maybe their lack of acting, in some instances, rather then drawing me into the story. The plot was a series of stepping stones rather than a smooth transition through the levels of the story arc. It seems that everyone was trying very hard to make this believable when perhaps relaxing into the roles a bit may have been the easiest trick. Will Pouter, however, will be well remembered for this role, sticking out like a golden dragon.
Overall, children under middle school will enjoy the Dawn Treader and some families may like the slightly less treacherous and less adult oriented stories compared to the Harry Potter franchise, which I believe has beautifully matured both in story and with its actors. I give Narnia a 3 out of 5, expecting more from the experienced Mr. Apted, and the large group of producers involved.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is now playing at Dinuba Platinum Theatres 6. Showtimes can be found on their website.