Welcome to this blog of my film reviews. Some have been drafted carefully on paper, others I have sat and typed. I'm going to make it clear right now that I don't expect you to agree with my (re)views, or to like my style of writing. However, I want my views to be just out there and open, as a person who wishes to express himself from deep within. Feel free to comment and debate with me, but I do ask that you are civil and not harsh, as any comments which are basically swear words and insults will automatically be deleted. Also any text that is in orange (and often bold) is a Hyperlink to either a source, or a previous post for background reference.
Friday, 29 April 2011
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
One year/three Narnian years after their last visit, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are transported back to Narnia, this time accompanied by their obnoxious cousin Eustace (Will Poulter). There they sail with King Caspian (Ben Barnes) and the crew of The Dawn Treader in a quest to rescue the Seven Lost Lords, in order to save Narnia from a corrupting evil that resides on a dark island.
The Chronicles of Narnia (2005-) has never been anywhere near as successful as The Lord of the Rings (2001-3) or Harry Potter (2001-11), and quite rightfully so, as it has been the most inferior and childish of the three, to the extent where Disney wouldn't comission this third installment and Fox took over control of the series. Like with its predecessors The Voyage of the Dawn Treader boasts fantastic visuals. The Dawn Treader is a bold and majestic ship, beautiful in design, and brings a real sense of fantasy to itself. And the film's special effects are excellent. The way the Pevensies and Eustace are transported to Narnia is created with such wonderful editing, and is paced so well that it could easily create a sense of fear in a younger viewer, as it does Eustace in the film; and the scenes in which Eustace is a dragon are created with some wonderful cinematography that features swooping, high in the sky shots that are potentially vertigo inducing, and bring a real sense of grace to themselves.
Again we have an average cast. Barnes, isn't that passionate or heartfelt as Caspian, but thank goodness he's dropped that awful Mediteranean accent. Henley remains strong as Lucy, meaning she keeps her title as best cast member of the series to date despite being the second youngest. Poulter, though, is an excellent new addition playing the pompous and snobbish Eustace with real enthusiasm and capturing the irritating little twit down to a tee. To be fair to the rest of the cast, they are not wholly responsible as they once again are not given a good screenplay to work with. The screenplay remains quite childish and cheesy, as well as underdeveloped; we jump from one event to the next with little development and little in between, so that most of the characters never get a good opportunity to stand out and are just there to fill up the two hours of film.
On the upside the Christian messages of the film are actually conveyed a lot more effectively than before. This installment features two major ones. The first is that we are always going to face temptations in this Earthly life, which is created effectively as it is by the dark forces of the islands that The Dawn Treader sails through, which show Lucy, Edmund and Caspian the dark desires of their heart with some very bold imagery and a great sense of fear and uncertainty created through some raw emotional impact on the three characters. They fight these temptations with raw emotions and are a good example of how we should fight them so in this Earthly life. The second is that we can't change ourselves, however, this is far too understated. In the film it is Aslan who changes Eustace back into a human after clawing the ground while Eustace lies unconscious; in the book though Eustace claws at his dragon self like mad to get back to the boy with no luck, showing that it is something humans can not do. Aslan - the God/Christ like figure of the series - suceeds, and this emphasises that only God can save and change us. That was in the book, in the film it basically looks like Aslan is doing it out of sympathy for Eustace. It doesn't work.
A visual treat, this film is very entertaining, and quite exciting in places, but it has a rather flawed screenplay, and Christians who admire the writings of CS Lewis will be in for mixed emotions towards the Christian messages - while one is created successfully, the other is completely understated. Prequel to the entire series so far, The Magician's Nephew is now set to be released in 2013, and I hope that a better job is done of conveying the Christian messages.
Stars: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Will Poulter, Ben Barnes, Liam Neeson, Simon Pegg, Gary Sweet, Shane Rangi, Arthur Angel, Arabella Morton, Laura Brent, Billie Brown, Terry Norris, Bruce Spence, Tilda Swinton, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley.
Golden Globe nomination: Best Original Song (There's a Place For Us - Carrie Underwood).