The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

2010, PG, 112 min. Directed by Michael Apted. Voices by Liam Neeson, Simon Pegg. Starring Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Will Poulter, Tilda Swinton.

REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Dec. 17, 2010

It takes great skill to make something so ponderously stultifying as this third film entry in the ongoing adaptation of C.S. Lewis' series of splendidly imagined children's books. Lewis was, of course, a passionate and committed Christian, and each of the three films (the first two from Disney, this one from Fox) has been released amid a flurry of criticism from Christian and secular audiences alike. This has occurred again (check out NarniaFaith.com for a fascinating cultural train wreck of a movie tie-in). However, what's really lost in translation is Lewis' effortlessly adventurous sense of wonder. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has all the elements of a rip-roaring Saturday-afternoon matinee (including 3-D, natch) and the intended Christian allegory, yet a more appropriate rechristening would be The Voyage of the Yawn Treader. Really, in a fantastical universe populated by a leonine Christ figure (Aslan, voiced by Neeson), a chatty seagoing mouse (Reepicheep, voiced by Pegg), and a vessel that appears to have been ripped straight from one of Ray Harryhausen's old Sinbad epics, you'd expect some sort of gravitas or, at the very least, some memorable derring-do. However, this film by Narnia newcomeer Apted is heavy on gamer motivations (seven swords must be located and collected, various personal obstacles must be overcome), but murky in emotional heft and drowned in poorly realized 3-D. Lucy (Henley) and Edmund Pevensie (Keynes) are still riding out the Blitz (will it never end?), although they're now accompanied by their irritable and irritating cousin Eustace Scrubb (Poulter, far more entertaining in Son of Rambow). All three are drawn into a magical painting in their bedroom, reuniting them with Barnes’ Caspian (now king), Aslan, and, eventually, Swinton's still-awe-inspiring White Witch. Dawn Treader is bereft of the narrative complexity evidenced in the preceding two films (although neither one was all that complex to begin with), and despite some fine creature effects from KNB and a rousing score courtesy of David Arnold, it still feels as if this franchise has run aground and is sinking under the weight of its own ambitions. Spiritually speaking, you'll probably fare just as well renting Jason and the Argonauts on Saturday and hitting church on Sunday. You'll certainly have more fun.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Michael Apted Films
Chasing Mavericks
Starring Gerard Butler, this inspirational surfing drama somehow fails to inspire.

Marc Savlov, Oct. 26, 2012

Amazing Grace
Unfortunately, what makes British abolitionist William Wilberforce a great man is also what makes him dull: his single-minded righteousness.

Josh Rosenblatt, Feb. 23, 2007

More by Marc Savlov
What If <i>Texas Chain Saw Massacre</i> Was Really About the Horrors of Modern American Society?
What If Texas Chain Saw Massacre Was Really About the Horrors of Modern American Society?
Putting the Austin-made seminal slasher back into context

March 22, 2019

The Mustang
Two wild spirits, man and horse, find peace in the microepic

March 22, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Michael Apted, Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Will Poulter, Tilda Swinton

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle