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)