Rental Corner : Third time in “Narnia” is worth the charm
After “Prince Caspian,” I basically gave up on the Narina film series. The unnecessary addition of violence and cutting in important dialogue scenes made me feel this was falling in the trap of book adaptations like The Golden Compass or A Series of Unfortunate Events. Altering or removing certain sections not just so things appear translatable to the big screen, but for the sake of beefing it and out doing previous incarnations like Harry Potter. By the time “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” came about in theaters, my interest had already sailed and little hope prevailed in getting me to see it. But after giving the C.S. Lewis realm another try, I was surprised to see that all was right again in this series.
Returning to this entry is Lucy and Edmund (save a cameo from Peter and Susan) as they have to deal with their cousin Eustace. A kid is more bratty than the children in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and thinks their Narnia talk is garbage. But once they are whisked away into the magical world once again (in probably one of the best special effects sequences where a painting of the ocean comes to life and fills the room with sea water) to help Caspian embark on a quest to save seven lords from a frozen coma.
Part of the crew is a sword fighting rat named Reepcheep (voiced by Simon Pegg) who easily steals the show and becomes an interesting piece of conflict for Eustace. The entertaining aspect of these scenes is how they play off of one another in the vein of a buddy comedy. You want to see the kid’s heart warm up and along the way, we enjoy the journey he takes in “regaining his faith” and the ride as a whole.
As they sail from island to island, the tone was mostly laid back and deviated from the heavy war feel the first two had. In comparison, “Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian” suffered from trying to be the next Lord of the Rings rather than formulate a style of its own. The staging of the battle scenes, the amount of gore, and even the delievery of the spiritual (or in this case, “religious”) elements felt like a junior version of Peter Jackson’s famed trilogy. It is here the series finally gets its own roots.
Instead of relaying on a hard edge of fantasy, its much lighter as they come across invisible elves, volcanic islands with mounds of tempting gold, and a villainous fog that is determined to conquer with the power of fear. But in terms of how this supernatural element is rather weak. The entire third act alone could have been better with the crew facing their own fears or tying the entire quest to this one moment with the kids overcome what has been haunting them. By the time they reach this, there is no grand finale and feels like a recycled monster battle from a Ray Harryhausen film. Even I feel the subplot of Lucy being tempted with vanity should have concluded during this climax rather be resolved in one swig.
At times “Dawn Treader” suffers from not having too much plot or being complex, but the way some things (changes) are handled. Most of them are done well such as Caspian having the choice of seeing his father or continue his life ruling Narnia and Eustace’s journey has a decent payoff. But then there are things like the evil fog or the continuing temptation Edmund has from the White Witch which don’t add up or feel disappointing to how they are wrapped up. Either way, its fair to say this is a step up from the previous entry that left me stranded and underwhelmed from the overly epic tone that thankfully this voyage didn’t carry.
Posted on April 22, 2012, in Rental Corner and tagged Rental Corner DVD Narnia Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.