The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Michael Petroni (Novel: C.S. Lewis)
Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Gary Sweet, Terry Norris, Bruce Spencer, Bille Brown, Laura Brent, Tilda Swinton, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley, Liam Neeson, Simon Pegg
PG for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action
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When I started out this series with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, I was hardly impressed with the story elements, the performances or the effects. The second film, Prince Caspian, was a more capable flick, though not terribly appropriate for children, and had suggested perhaps the filmmakers had learned and adapted and this third feature might not be bad. Sadly, I was wrong.
There are elements that deserve praise. The film looks far more polished and visually stunning than the prior efforts, though the Aslan animation is still a bit unrefined and several key effects elements are stylistically antiquated. It reminds me a bit in places of The Last Airbender, which is not a positive attribution. The character of Eustace is handled well and young actor Will Poulter does a fairly good job making the audience dislike him yet later feel sympathy for him. And the subplot between him and Reepicheep works quite well.
However, the acting has not improved a bit and the heavy-handed religious narrative has gotten more oppressive. In an effort to appeal to the religious community that supposedly made the original a hit (FYI to the producers, that was never the case), they have stripped every wonderful fantasy element out of the novels and replaced it with an attempt to patronize a small subset of the movie-going public.
One of the reasons the first film was such a success was not that it had religious overtones, but because it was based on a celebrated series of children's books that nearly every kid of a certain generation had read. With a mixture of nostalgia and hope for another great fantasy series like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, audiences flocked to the film. Yes, some of the audiences were bolstered by religious groups, but they were not the chief selling point for the film. The second film tried to pull that same audience in again, but producers should have learned by that film's less-than-expected box office return that either A) their targeted demo wasn't turning out the way it should or B) the first film wasn't as good as they thought. It was a combination of both and now that the third film has found its way to an even more poor box office return, it should be obvious that either the series needs to move away from its indoctrinatory style or it needs to be stopped while it's still limping.
December 27, 2010