The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader Review

The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader film still

Score

Michael Apted’s fantasy adventure feels curiously stilted with its Jason and the Argonauts-style set up.

Jilted by Disney after a two-picture marriage, Walden Media and 20th Century Fox picked up CS Lewis’ much-loved Chronicles of Narnia and present this third outing, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Michael Apted’s fantasy adventure feels curiously stilted with its Jason and the Argonauts-style set up. Call it Homeric if you want to, but this ship sails hither and thither with little gusto.

With the two oldest Pevensie kids – Peter and Susan – too old for Narnian adventures, we return to the magical land laden with Christian allegory with Lucy, Edmund and their exceedingly annoying cousin Eustace. This time the kiddiewinks are sent on a quest with Caspian (Ben Barnes again) to retrieve seven swords in order to defeat some CG sea-mist.

The actors playing the Pevensie clan were always a bit of a collective lead weight. It’s as if the original casting call read: "Wanted: posh kids with limited/no acting ability for fantasy adventure flick". Throwing them into a world of green screen blankness and asking them to emote to a tennis ball on a stick doesn’t inspire strong performances from anybody, let alone, young performers.

Other noticeable weaknesses are present. Although original director Andrew Adamson Disneyfied the films they were at least consistent. Michael Apted belongs to that distinct British breed of filmmaker whom earned their stripes in television and documentary. He’s a true journeyman director.

In other words, Apted is such a safe pair of hands it’s hard to distinguish what he’s bringing to the table other than very safe and very polished experience of big productions.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader does benefit from Dante Spinotti’s golden-sunset photography, but falling back on the old 'at least it looks nice' excuse is indicative of somebody pressing hard to find positives.

This third instalment ensures the franchise will end with a whimper and not a bang. It’s very hard to see there being a screen outing for The Silver Chair – the next chronicle in the list. Cameos from Aslan (Liam Neeson) and The White Witch are obviously tacked on to provide a bit of audience recognition. Tilda Swinton’s role smacks of 'back by contractual obligation’.

And where did the filmmaker find such an odd-looking child actor as Will Poulter to play Eustace? He’s a strange, prissy screen presence. Top marks for that.

Anticipation

The jilted bride of Disney returns!

2

Enjoyment

Passable family entertainment and that’s about it.

3

In Retrospect

Let’s not go to Narnia again. It’s a silly place.

2
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View 16 comments

oanajinga

4 years ago
I am quite a Narnia-geek (fan of the books as a child) but the only thing I actually loved about the film was Will Poulter's performance! So thumbs up for marking that :)

Jay Cumberland

4 years ago
This is also one of the silliest reviews I've ever read. Why do critics review films they either obviously haven't seen entirely or films based upon books they've obviously never read? This is yet another proof that it doesn't take as much to be considered a "film critic" as it used to.

Robert

4 years ago
Sigh ... I was hoping you'd help me figure out whether or not this movie was worth seeing. I still don't know the answer as you were so quick to slam the first two flicks (which I'd categorize as "good," with somewhat strong performances from young actors comparative to most Hollywood flicks).

Adam

4 years ago
Jay, I think Martyn's review suggests that he most definitely did see the film, and I'm not sure I fully understand your reasoning behind critics being required to first read the source material before reviewing an adaptation.

In this case CS Lewis' novel might be a useful point of reference, but whether or not Martyn has read the book(s) is entirely irrelevant to his construction of this review.

Adam

4 years ago
I think Martyn sums it up quite eloquently: "This third instalment ensures the franchise will end with a whimper and not a bang."

JTW_iC

4 years ago
For what it's worth, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and felt like I was watching a different movie than many of the critics. While I was not pleased with all of the revisions and I also thought there were some missed opportunities to better reflect the book, overall, I thought it was very good and I will see it again.

cx145

4 years ago
Christianity wrapped up in a shiny red bow.

Jay Cumberland

4 years ago
Here's teh little white lie Adam...there are more critics than you probably realize who don't see films in their entirety and review them anyway. This review could have easily been written after seing the trailer or the film. A good critique would include so much more than what this one offers. My problem is not that the critic didn' like the film...it's the fact that the critique is actually worse to read than most bad movies are to watch.

The truth is, Conterio wouldn't cut it at any first rate media outlet, nor would many of the so called critics you find here.

Let's all remember, that half of the critics disagree with this review and to suggest that the franchise is over is entirely arrogant and clearly shows this critics' disdain for Christian allegory.

Anton Bitel

4 years ago
"Let's all remember, that half of the critics disagree with this review and to suggest that the franchise is over is entirely arrogant and clearly shows this critics' disdain for Christian allegory."

I have not seen the film, and therefore have no opinion on it whatsoever - but to argue against the validity of a critique on the basis that some other critics disagree gets us precisely nowhere. Critics, like any viewers, often disagree. I also fail entirely to see how Conterio's suggestion that the franchise has already run out of steam in any way shows the critic's disdain for Christian allegory (he - correctly - acknowledges the allegorical status of Narnia only once in the review, and without any hint of disdain that I am able to detect). Clearly he just doesn't think the film is much good (as a film) - that hardly constitutes an attack on Christian values. Perhaps you didn't read what he wrote...

Adam

4 years ago
Jay, the reason we offer readers the chance to comment is to encourage and stimulate debate about a film and its meaning, cinematic or other.

If you continue to personally attack our writers then your comments will be removed.

Thanks you.

tomseymour

4 years ago
What is wrong with disdain for Christian allegory?

Anton Bitel

4 years ago
Disdain for anything tends to blunt the tools of criticism.

tomseymour

4 years ago
Granted. Disdain the wrong word. What is wrong with interrogating Christian allegory?

Anton Bitel

4 years ago
Not one damned thing (you bring the pliers, I'll bring the blowtorch.) It is just that, as far as I can tell, the review above has, er, other fish to fry.

Hyatt

4 years ago
I might be able to help, if you're considering seeing it as a fan of the books. If you liked Dawn Treader for its ability to tell an engaging story through characters and vignettes without need of a threat to drive the plot, give this film a pass. Its attempts to add an epic quest to the story just detracts from the sense of exploration the book had. Eustace and Reepicheep are done well enough to shine, but for the rest, the changes to make it more cinematic just grate.

Matthew Webb

4 years ago
"The actors playing the Pevensie clan were always a bit of a collective lead weight. It’s as if the original casting call read: “Wanted: posh kids with limited/no acting ability for fantasy adventure flick”."

Far too true and exactly how I felt watching the last two. Thank god I worked at my local Odeon and got in without having to pay for them.

This one I will not be seeing
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