Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (First Impressions) (Movie Review)

        When I was in elementary school (4th grade if I remember correctly) I read the book “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” and it captured my imagination in a way that no other book did (well except for the Harry Potter books, of cores). Bottom line, I loved this story and throughout my child hood, I saw all kinds of film and TV adaptions. There was a 15 part, live action serial and an animated film version. Then in 2005, all my love for this story reached an amazing new height, the film “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” was an absolute masterpiece and one of my favorite movies. It’s both a beautiful fairytale story with Christian backgrounds and a thrilling action adventure. The second movie “The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian” had less beauty but all the same, it was an engaging, action, war story that I thought was more impressive than the Lord of the Rings films. It wasn’t as good as the first but I still consider it to be a very underrated movie sequel. Now at last we have the third installment, “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader”.   
     One of the biggest differences in this film from the first two is that it was distributed by 20th Century Fox as opposed to Disney. That has to be the biggest studio change for a big film series that I can think of and a bad sign that these films are not getting the money that I would like them to get. Admittedly, I didn’t love this one as much as the first and it wasn’t as exciting as the second but it was still a great film and an excellent entry in the series. Some may complain that this film is boring and that not enough things are happening but I couldn’t disagree more. This is a return to the fairy tale setting of the first film and it felt like a magical experience. That’s what fantasy films are supposed to be like, I thought it was a breath of fresh air not to have another war story or a big battle at the end. Don’t get me wrong, I love all that, but it can get boring, if they repeat that same story. The plot goes like this, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are once again transported to Narnia, along with their cousin, Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter). They reunite with Prince Caspian on a ship, to travel to the ends of the world and stop an evil green mist from getting loose and consuming the land. It’s a pretty simple plot but that’s what I like, simple and easy to follow.
       It’s one of those films where you escape from reality and amerce yourself in a colorful fantasy world, that’s full of magic and wonder. I love all the different locations and creatures they encounter like dragons and wizards. It brings to mind classic adventure films like “Jason and the Argonauts” or the “Sinbad” movies. Unlike the Harry Potter films, that get darker with each film, the Narnia films switch between light and dark, and that’s also refreshing that it doesn’t increase the same tone with every film. This is a beautiful looking movie, with some amazing visuals, clear water, and beautiful landscapes. Now, I’ll be the first to say I love action but I was satisfied with what little action there was in this film. The movie ends with an awesome battle with a giant sea serpent and that was plenty exciting for me. The cast give outstanding, believable performances and the characters are just as enjoyable as ever. The star who stole the whole film was the cousin Eustace. The whole film is worth watching just for him, not only was his performance amazing but he had me laughing every time he was on screen. Now, I love Reepicheep (The mouse) from the last film and I was thrilled that he got even more screen time and more character development in this film. I also liked how they continued the tradition of having Douglas Gresham make a cameo, he was in the first two and this time he appeared as a slaver. Douglas Gresham by the way is one of the step sons of C. S. Lewis, the author of the Chronicles of Narnia books. I always love how these films tend to have a Christian background and mange to fit a little message or metaphor in for the audience to ponder on. Finally to put the cherry on the cake, the end credits are terrific, with colorful backgrounds that are reminiscent of our adventure we embarked on with the characters and to enhance the whole mood there’s a terrific song called “There’s A Place for Us,” performed by the always fantastic Carrie Underwood (American Idol champion). Overall, I had a great time with this film but I can’t say it’s a film for everyone, and I doubt it will win new fans for the series. I hate to admit it but I can’t imagine this film remaining as fun on repeated viewings and while I had a great time while I was watching it, the enjoyment of the film left me the fallowing day and I had to remember what it was I liked about it. It’s like a parade that passes by, it’s great in the moment but the moment is all it’s good for. Still it was a good film, well-constructed and for my overall ratting I give “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader” 3 ½ stars.               

Stay tuned for my top ten favorite adventure movies, coming soon! 

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