Talking mice, weird creatures and Christian values are back in the third entry in The Chronicles of Narnia franchise, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Unlike the first two movies, Dawn Treader suffers from a lack of name recognition. Oh, and B-grade production values.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader stars Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes as Lucy and Edmund, and Ben Barnes as Prince-turned-King Caspian. The characters of Susan and Peter are merely featured in cameos, having been written out of the novel by C.S. Lewis.
In the movie, Lucy and Edmund find themselves sucked back into Narnia - along with their obnoxious cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) - and placed on a ship guided by Caspian, who is on a quest to find the seven lords of Narnia. The rest of the plot is nonessential, as it basically involves the characters running into unrelated trouble as they sail from ship to ship.
I was never a fan of the first movie; it was bloated, slow-paced and not as mesmerizing as it could have been. I was one of the few, however, who thoroughly enjoyed the sequel Prince Caspian. It was more mature, more exciting and a lot more action-packed than its predecessor.
Unfortunately, the trend wasn't to last. Whether due to the change in directors, the transition from Walt Disney to 20th Century Fox or simply the fact that the story isn't as good, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader feels like a direct-to-video sequel. The special effects are okay but not groundbreaking; the acting shaky; and the overall production second-rate.
For children, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader will be perfectly entertaining. There are weird creatures, goofy characters and enough adventure to satisfy. But the studio cranked up the Christian themes this go-around to cater to the churchgoing market, effectively ridding the production of its best elements.
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader isn't a terrible movie; it's just a lackluster follow-up to the surprisingly good Prince Caspian. It definitely isn't the return to glory the franchise needed, though it did make over $400 million worldwide.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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