Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of The Dawn Treader Review

The Narnia trilogy have been a strange series of films. They have never received the prestige bestowed on Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, and have suffered from criticism of their Christian themes. With Disney pulling out of co-producing, and at the time of writing Dawn Treader is slipping down the box office, the continuation of the series seems in the balance.

The plot follows Edmund and Lucy from the first two films, and their obnoxious cousin Eustace, as they splash down in to Narnia aboard The Dawn Treader. A new evil has arrived, and it’s up to them to bring peace to the land once again.

What narrative there is sticks together, but its real problem is the lack of any true threat. The main baddie is nothing more than an evil mist, and despite claiming to make your worst nightmares come true, in reality seems to deal more with minor insecurities. The peril never gets beyond Saturday morning cartoon level, and this is the series planting its flag purely in the children’s market.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but must be judged as such.

As with Harry Potter, the franchise got lucky with its child actors. Prince Caspian is a bit of a wet blanket, but Reepicheep and the other Narnians are very strong . Eustace could so easily have just been silly, but has real moments of humour that shine through.  The best part of the Narnia films have always been the special effects and this instalment is no exception. Aslan looks better than ever, and there is a real weight and life to all the talking animals. Dawn Treader may be light, but it builds a great atmosphere. The editing seems a little choppy in places, but the whole “islands with different dangers” archetype is a strong one, and really works. If only there was little more risk to the adventures, and this could have been a top notch picture.

This is very light fare, but good special effects and  a half decent plot keep it going .This film is not a classic, and not even the best of the series. But as an enjoyable Christmas movie, it’s worth checking out.

6/10

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