Two of the original Pevensey children are summoned back to Narnia with their obnoxious cousin Eustace. Reunited with Prince Caspian and the mouse Reepicheep aboard the majestic Dawn Treader, we are treated to an Odyssey across oceans, encountering mermaids, dwarves, pirates and a dragon.
I picked out the twin themes of temptation and responsibility, although you might be more attracted to sword fights, flying sequences and ropey retro-fitted cod-3-D…
Success rests with the kids. Lucy, Edmund and Eustace aid Caspian on an island-hopping quest to rid the land of a curse emanating from the ‘Dark Isle’, whisked along from set-piece to set-piece like i. Each has to learn the folly of temptation – the boys for treasure, Lucy for coveting the attention given her prettier older sister. Everybody has to learn to be ‘who they are’ and take responsibility for their own actions.
Reepicheep has mutated into Hollywood’s current favourite Brit Simon Pegg, but not so you’d notice). Georgie Henley has genuine presence as Lucy, while Ben Barnes has matured into his role as Caspian through other work in the interim. True acting honours go to Will Poulter (Son of Rambo) as curmudgeonly cousin Eustace, a fine comic turn with pathos.
‘Dawn Treader was picked up by Fox after Disney dropped the franchise. The first two films took nearly $1.2 billion worldwide and still Disney failed to make enough profit. The evangelical Christians failed to turn up in their droves, partly because Disney toned down Lewis’ overt Christian sub-text for the worldwide audience. ‘Dawn Treader practically buries it, so by the time Liam Neeson’s gravely voice spouts homilies from Aslan’s mouth, I doubt many of the child audience have a clue what he’s talking about. Do they know Reepicheep is paddling away to die? And how is that a good thing?
Michael Apted (The World Is Not Enough) fills in C.S. Lewis’ boys-own adventure plot with action and incident, his reputation justified. It’s a handsome looking film, confidence and bravado intact. Just skip the retro-fitted 3-D if you can. The climactic battle with a giant sea-centipede-thing is a big action set-piece that goes on too long, but it is the epilogue with the long-awaited appearance of Aslan the lion that kills the thing stone dead.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ultimately does what is sells on the poster; the kids get an adventure, good triumphs, evil is banished, order is restored and Fox recoups its investment. RC
Cert (UK): PG
Runtime: 112 mins
Directors: Michael Apted
Written By: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely based on C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia: the Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Cast: Ben Barnes, Georgie Henley, Liam Neeson, Simon Pegg, Skandar Keynes, Tilda Swinton, Will Poulter
Running time: 1 hr. 53 min.
Genre: Action & Adventure, Kids & Family, Science Fiction & Fantasy