'The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of The Dawn Treader' Review By Diaigma

While it is sure to entertain fantasy enthusiasts with high adventure and its lion's share of 3D wizardry, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a rare film that begins terribly but leaves you wanting more
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
The long awaited next entry in the series and the theatrically adapted debut of the third Narnia book is finally here, but it's not exactly the epic voyage that I had hoped for - at least mostly. Since Disney dropped the franchise after a less-than-spectacular box office run with Prince Caspian, The Chronicles of Narnia seemed to flounder like a fish out of water, but with Fox's hand, they managed to give this franchise another chance to breathe. Unfortunately, even with a studio and directorial change, the formula heaves with an all too familiar breath and an inserted plot change that is more fishy than it is refreshing. While it is sure to entertain fantasy enthusiasts with high adventure and its lion's share of 3D wizardry, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a rare film that begins terribly but leaves you wanting more.

Lucy and Edmund Pevensie have issues - they tire of being kids, they want to grow up, and they are stuck with relatives while Peter and Susan are in America. This wouldn't be all bad if it weren't for their snot-nosed cousin, Eustace. Thankfully, they find themselves whisked away into Narnian waters, hoisted onto the deck of The Dawn Treader, the finest ship in Narnia's navy. Led by King Caspian (and guarded by Reepicheep), they set out to find The Seven Lords of Narnia. The problem is that a cryptic green mist, bent on consuming all that is good, begins to tempt everyone with their greatest weaknesses. Will Aslan assist with these strange waters, or will The Dawn Treader's crew find themselves stranded at the end of the world?

What I Treaded:

Eustace - Son of Rambo's Will Poulter (though his character is purposefully unlikable at first) is one of the first in the franchise to be spot-on (besides Ben Barnes and William Moseley). He does well for a young, abrasive stowaway, with the inclination that he might return to Narnia - if the studios permit.

Visuals - an escapist's dream come true. This film certainly doesn't lack visual wonderment in a wide variety of environments, with equally amusing sets and costumes. The only problem is the low level of rendering refinement and a cartoony dragon that the good eye can spot periodically.

Ending - The Dawn Treader marks the end of Lucy and Edmund's visits to Narnia, and the parting of ways with Aslan and Reepicheep is as bittersweet and tear-jerking as saying goodbye to your best friend for the last time, a rather ominous omen for the possible fate of this franchise.

What I Drowned:

Beginning - the beginning wades along like a dog paddle and continues for a while, making me feel dripping wet with saturated journal-entry narration instead of establishing a story. The first act is soggy with an ill-realized fight scene on an island. It was at this point that I regretted going to see this film, but I paid for the ticket, so I stayed, and to my surprise, I'm glad that I did.

Score - aside from an angelic main theme (that repeats itself occasionally), I found David Arnold's score to be bland of any memorable or epic quality. The notes row along faster and busier than a hurried longboat, aching to reach the nearest shore of Rush-Job Island.

Add-Ons - one of the largest problems of this franchise is its lengths to insert drastic add-ons that are nowhere to be found in the books. While changes are to be expected, adding whole scenes into a film that wasn't in the book is another matter. Thankfully, Dawn Treader doesn't make the same mistakes that Prince Caspian did, keeping the film at a reasonable 115 minutes, but Dawn Treader's insertion of a Green Mist is a riot, as there is no such thing in any of the Narnia books.

I found it amusing that this is the second film that Ben Barnes has starred in that includes a pretty girl who is also a star (the first being Stardust), but for its weaknesses, Voyage of the Dawn Treader has its strengths. It doesn't alienate from the pace and feel of the previous Narnia films and is a welcome, if not lackluster addition to the series. What matters most of all is that the story's main theme is intact - temptation, the challenge of facing your demons and fears. This voyage over troubled waters is a means of testing our heroes to see if they are worthy of entering Aslan's country beyond the end of the world. A worthy but unmarvelous film, the series still has potential to gain strength with a new slue of actors lead by Eustace. My verdict? Bring on The Silver Chair!

3D note - it adds nothing. I recommend the 2D screening.

(By Movieweb's Diaigma: resemblance to other reviews is purely coincidental)

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Comments (40)

  1. Diaigma

    That's cause you're just that good, @Supes :P

    4 years agoby @diaigmaFlag

  2. Dan

    @Diaigma and I kill that most Helpful board.

    4 years agoby @dan1Flag

  3. Diaigma

    @geek - I know . . . it's quite the surprise :)

    4 years agoby @diaigmaFlag

  4. moviegeek

    Sixteen thumbs up??? Holy Reepicheep!

    4 years agoby @moviegeekFlag


    haha. Yeah, I know. Its not fair. He's even told me himself on Facebook he was gonna stop writing reviews again.

    4 years agoby @the-screenwriterFlag

  6. slysnide

    @Screenwriter: Seems every review he does gets stamped Official. :P

    4 years agoby @slysnideFlag


    I mean, only cause' I've been trying to become one for two years. Hell, Vamp left for over seven months and he's still an official. lmao

    4 years agoby @the-screenwriterFlag


    I'd like to be an official too ):

    4 years agoby @the-screenwriterFlag

  9. slysnide

    @Diaigma: I only write reviews here anyway. I'm not Official either, but have some of their perks. Is that what you meant? Or for those who virtually see every new movie to review it here on opening day?

    4 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  10. Diaigma

    That is true, but that red badge is so tempting :P
    In a way, official reviewer-ship could be give to those who write for movieweb only, hence Official Reviewer of MW? : /

    4 years agoby @diaigmaFlag

  11. Dan

    @Sly That's true. I could settle for being able to edit my reviews at all times, not just within the 24 hour timeframe.

    4 years agoby @dan1Flag

  12. slysnide

    @Supes & @Diaigma: Better idea, just let us edit our own reviews whenever we want rather than restricting that privilege to officials. Seriously, we all like what each other writes and provide constructive criticism of each other. So ergo, we kind of applaud each other's reviews for specific reasons. And that Official list is damn near impossible to get on. Spoiler based reviews get it, as do ones that are ten paragraphs long at 15 lines a piece, but these decent ones like the ones you guys write? They never make the list. ??????

    4 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  13. Diaigma

    I second that motion, @Supes - the site needs more active official reviewers. CBF and Julian are the only ones I can take seriously.

    4 years agoby @diaigmaFlag

  14. Dan

    Yes, I'd like it if a couple of us were made official. Diaigma, myself, Wichita, moviegeek.

    4 years agoby @dan1Flag

  15. Diaigma

    Thank you, @CBF - and blast it all. I should have seen that. If I can just get myself official, I'd change that in an instant. Thank you for your comment and I'm glad that you salvaged as much enjoyment from this one as I did :)

    4 years agoby @diaigmaFlag

  16. CBF

    Great review, @Diaigma! BTW - typographical error: 'slue' is actually spelled 'slew', lol. Sorry, mate, just a lil' constructive criticism. I went and saw this film last night and I wholeheartedly agree with your review. The last half of the film is where this one picks up and gets to be good. And the Green Mist? The Mist Island? I don't remember those being the reason to lay the swords down in the book. A total lackluster 'villain' - if you will. But alas, each Narnia film is different and for that, I applaud them for. Sure Fox did not bring the magic back that was in Wardrobe, but they brought a whole new type of magic needed for Voyage. And the fact that they keep touching on the White Witch and Edmund's hatred of her in each film, which was not in the book, I'm sure is a hint to The Silver Chair, which I am hoping they make despite the low domestic numbers of Voyage.

    Again, good job!

    4 years agoby @comicbookfanFlag

  17. slysnide

    @Diaigma: Only just yesterday did I read up on the summaries of the 7 Narnia books, their chronilogical order, their preferred order, and characters within. Interesting set-up. I take it they may finish it after all.

    4 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  18. Diaigma

    I didn't dislike it that much, @Yentz - the last 2/3rds was decent. I just like to have fun in my writing when I dislike something :P

    And thank you :)

    4 years agoby @diaigmaFlag

  19. Bryan Yentz

    very good review, though it seems like you disliked the movie more than your score let on. And I dug "Rush-Job Island". Haha, nice stuff.

    4 years agoby @bryanyentzFlag

  20. Jakn

    Greatly-written review. I do agree with you on the beggining, but I was dissapionted by the entire film.

    4 years agoby @jaknFlag

  21. Diaigma

    Thank you, @Narrator - it might be a new trend :)

    4 years agoby @diaigmaFlag

  22. the Narrator

    Lol, technically it's the 5th book in the series, although I think it was the 3rd written. And yea, it's my favorite book. Which is why I have no intention of seeing in in theaters because from what I can gather, it totally does not capture anything that I would have thought possible and necessary.

    Good review friend. Short and sweet. I loved the whole "drowned", "tread" change, which is far more fitting to this film than "dug" and "buried".

    4 years agoby @narratorFlag

  23. Diaigma

    @Lane - I forgot that part. Yes. That would have been an excellent inclusion. Much better than a green mist :P I thought Wardrobe's length was fine, but my problem with Caspian is that they put in an almost half-hour scene that's non-existent in the book (the raid on the castle). For me, that didn't really help move the plot along. Thanks for your thoughts.

    @Everyone - thank you for your comments! Glad you enjoy my reviews, even if the movies I pick don't always interest you.

    @Sly - now that the main four kids' story is over, they don't really need the same cast members anymore. From here on out, it's all fresh, if they continue. If they ever do "The Horse and His Boy," the only cast member who will reprise his role is Neeson (Aslan).

    @ejk1 - haven't been called that in a while :P

    4 years agoby @diaigmaFlag

  24. Lane

    Nice review "D." Though I agree with most of what you said, I have to disagree on the part about this movie being a "refreshment" in having a shorter running time. Reading the book, I noticed that the entire scene *spoilers everyone* between Caspian and the Governer of The Lone Islands (from chapter 4) was completely left out and changed in the film. While I didn't mind the almost 2 and a half hour running time of the first 2 films, this one could've added a lot more even without nearing the length of the previous films and been a lot more interesting with a better result.

    That scene was a major event in the book that I felt the movie sorely needed and would've added some character development that was really lacking for "Prince" Caspian as a chance to show his power and authority as the new "King."

    4 years agoby @lane1Flag

  25. moviegeek

    Hmm.. I should come up with some original compliments for your reviews. For now, just know this one is as awesome as ever. More creativity to come for future review lol.

    4 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  26. Daveactor7

    Wow im mad i did not see this review because it is awesome! I might see this now!

    4 years agoby @daveactor7Flag

  27. thedude-abides

    Not my kinda movie. Great review, nonetheless.

    4 years agoby @thedude-abidesFlag

  28. ejk1

    You know what's funny? I saw the "What I treaded" and then said to myself, "I bet he went with 'What I drowned.'" Sure enough, I scroll down and found myself correct. Another excellent review, you cornball.

    4 years agoby @ejk1Flag

  29. ZanyZap

    Great review! School and work have not permitted many trips to the theater this semester, so reading reviews has been my only escape. Well done, sir.

    4 years agoby @zanyzapFlag

  30. MovieFreak97

    Great Review. I'll probably be seeing this along with Tron Legacy in the next few weeks. Can't say I'm incredibly excited but I like the first two, so it should be fun for me

    4 years agoby @moviefreak97Flag