THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER
MOVIE: ***1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
The third Narnia film follows the series of books, leaving Peter and Susan behind while Lucy and Edmond go on their own adventure. While staying with their annoying cousin Eustace, the kids are swept back into Narnia where they meet up with Caspian on the vessel the Dawn Treader. Together, they must discover the truth behind a great darkness that is attacking Narnia, and eventually defeat it.
WHAT I LIKED
I like the Narnia movies, even if the first one is easily the best story. Having seen a previous rendition of the film, the charming but painfully low-rent BBC version from the late 80s, I understand that any resulting product is reliant on the source material. In this sense, this film does a fun job telling a great family adventure.
In many ways, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is more relateable to a younger audience than “Prince Caspian” was. It has more fantastic elements whereas “Prince Caspian” dealt with heavier issues and fewer fantasy creatures. “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” brings back the more family-friendly elements of the first film. As someone who has younger children, this is nice to see, even though it wasn’t necessarily embraced by American audiences.
Throughout half of this film, it’s a real effects showcase, sometimes too much. But ultimately it makes it neat to watch, and going from adventure set-piece to adventure set-piece even kept the interest of my three year old son.
I would love to see the Narnia series continue, even if the stories never quite live up to “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
While this isn’t necessarily a complaint about the film itself because it’s dependent on the original book, it still was a bit of a let-down to see only the younger children as the focus of this movie. I do miss Peter and Susan, even though they have the briefest (and arguably unnecessary) bit part in the film.
Finally, while the film is heavy on special effects, it’s not heavy on the budget. The movie carried a sizeable price tag, albeit a fraction of the original and its sequel. With even more elaborate scenes, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” doesn’t quite hold up to its predecessor in terms of special effects. But it still beats the pants off that late-80s BBC miniseries.
The Blu-ray comes with a slate of deleted scenes, an audio commentary and a set-top game. There’s three behind-the-scenes featurettes, plus an animated short “The Untold Adventures of the Dawn Treader.” A batch of other special features are found in an interactive map, which looks at the various elements of the film in short featurettes. These are decent special features, which require some poking around through the Blu-ray menus, and they include flexibility for the kids to enjoy as well.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of the books and the franchise who don’t mind a smaller film than the previous two.