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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of The Dawn Treader

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The Chronicles of Narnia:  Voyage of The Dawn Treader

By Judy Thorburn

After a disappointing, dark and violent second installment, the third chapter of the Chronicle of Narnia film series with veteran director Michael Apted (Amazing Grace, Gorillas in the Mist, Nell) at the helm (taking over from Andrew Adamson who directed part one and two) brings back all the magical elements that made the first so exciting and entertaining.

The latest episode, which may or may not be the end of the film franchise, is set during World War 11 in England and finds the two youngest Prevensie siblings, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) returning to Narnia without their older brother and sister Peter and Susan who have grown up and moved on with their lives.   This time their visit is not by way of a magical wardrobe closet but through an equally magical painting that comes to life, floods their room with sea water, and sweeps up the teens and their obnoxious, complaining cousin, Eustace (wonderfully portrayed by Will Poulter, Son of Rambow).  Before too long, they are saved from the sea by their royal friend King Caspian (Ben Barnes) and his crew including the sword wielding, warrior mouse Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg replacing Eddie Izzard) aboard his ship the Dawn Treader.

Their mission is to help Caspian find the source of an evil green midst that has been enveloping the land of Narnia.  The key to stopping it lies in the swords belonging to the seven Lords of Telmar who have gone missing.  When gathered together and laid out on the table of the Christ-like lion Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) the swords possess the power to rid Narnia of the dark force and its spell threatening to destroy the kingdom.

As the sea adventure taking them to several mysterious islands unfolds, the young heroes encounter slave traders, invisible one-legged elves called Dufflepuds, and a wizard.  They are also forced to battle a horrifying, giant sea serpent, and are visited by the Blue Star, which descends from the sky and takes the form of a beautiful young woman who acts as their guide to their final island destination.

Along the way the siblings are tested by temptations meant to thwart their quest.  Lucy unhappy with her looks, struggles with the desire to be beautiful like her older sister, Susan (Anna Popplewell) and conjurs up a spell to fulfill her wish, but discovers all is not what she expected.  Edmund is tempted by the ghost of the malevolent White Witch (Tilda Swinton) who promises to make him her king, and for greedy Eustace, a transformation into a flying, fire breathing dragon forces him to undergo an even greater inner transformation.

The Chronicles of Narnia, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is the first of the series to delivered in 3D (by way of post production).  Beautifully crafted, the film is a visual delight, with breathtaking seamless CGI effects, gorgeous set designs, the right amount of action and suspense and solid, engaging performances from its young stars. As in the previous episodes adapted to screen from C.S. Lewis’s popular children’s books, strong Christian parallels are evident, but not off putting for those of other religions as the never ending fight between good versus evil and lessons to be learned are universal.

I loved The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and recommend this well paced, fantastic, fantasy adventure for the entire family.  However, I feel parents should be warned that there are some frightening images that might be too scary for their very young children.

As I left the theatre, all I heard were positive remarks from people of all ages including loyal C.S. Lewis fans.  That should lead the way to another visit to Narnia, if the powers that be (aka, the filmmakers) know what’s good for them and their audiences.

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