Though, admittedly, that would be pretty amazing!
In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader from The Chronicles of Narnia film series, we're flooded with a new and dangerous method for entering that Fantastical Kingdom! A painting of the Ocean with a "very Narnian looking" ship floating on the waves comes to life, spills forth sweet Seawater to fill the bedroom and sweeps all of its inhabitants into La Mer du Narnia without even waiting for them to slap on a pair of board shorts or some "swimmies".
Naturally, this is (very) old hat for the two youngest of the four High Monarchs of Narnia, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie (still very well played by the fast-growing Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley, respectively), however this is all new and incredibly unbelievable to the incredibly, unbelievably obnoxious younger cousin of theirs named Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter) whose "logical mind" was quite sure that all talk of "Narnia" was silly whimsy. The kid is such a little jerk that it's fantastic to see the smirk get washed right off of his rude face. Not that seeing becomes believing for the little monster, but hey...
Soon they are picked up by the very people they (or anyone else) should want to see if found overboard in the vast Oceans of a "make believe" place. Namely, the now fully adult King Caspian X (Ben Barnes) and the crew of The Dawn Treader, a big, beautiful sailing ship with a Dragon's Head for a Bow and huge, purple sails, like something Prince might wear as a Bathrobe. While Caspian's quest to find the Seven Banished Lords that his usurping Uncle Miraz chased away, is quite clear (as they may hold the key to setting things in Narnia right again), just why Edmund and Lucy (and especially useless Eustace) have been brought here, and by whom, is still a great mystery. This time they aren't in charge of armies and don't have a spelled out mission from King Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson) and this time they're even without their older siblings Susan and Peter (Anna Popplewell and William Moseley, who appear in welcome cameos).
While their presence may be a fortunate mystery for the trio, they soon fall back into their adventurous roles (which both the Pevensie kids have been longing for) and face many dangers. Luckily they also have many allies, like the swashbuckling mouse warrior Reepicheep (voiced by the awesome Simon Pegg)the noble Minotaur Tavros (Shane Rangi) and the Treader's loyal captain Lord Drinian (Gary Sweet). And they're going to need them, because the noble crew faces off with terrifying sea monsters, fierce dragons, subterranean lakes that turn objects (and people) into gold, evil slave traders, sacrificial rituals, cursed treasures, invisible theives and their own personal demons (most notably Edmund's own nightmarish visions of Tilda Swinton's seductive and ghostly White Witch, Jadis)!
The story is unquestionably rich, thrilling and exciting without ever becoming overly sanctimonious or overloaded with message. C.S. Lewis' third (in publishing order) Narnian Epic is well translated into the screenplay by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni and the overall excellent cast is given great direction by Michael Apted. However, while this is always a good time, Dawn Treader often falls victim to the common issues faced by epic adaptations of epic fantasy novels. So often things are rushed enough that the tale becomes muddled. Large issues feel vague and unexplained while smaller questions are dwelt upon for considerable lengths of time. It's easy to understand that in a cast this large, certain characters might come off as a little thin (as the tale progresses actors Bruce Spence, Bille Brown, Laura Brent and Terry Noris join the cast), but often their stories seem barely touched upon, only enough to allow for their walk-on appearances before the plot keeps going to the next hinted point. Sure this is understandable. In such adaptations, a razor-thin line has to be walked between what can be cut and changed and what absolutely has to be included (without creating a seven hour feature) to ensure that the legions of fans won't sail to the ends of the world to dismiss the movie as travesty outright! Reasonable or not, the film does suffer slightly for the tight translation from page to screen.
Then again, it's no more convoluted than the true story of how this Walden Media co-production bounced to distributor 20th Century Fox from the Mouse House, which distributed both The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian! Look it up, kids, it's nearly a laugh, but really a cry!
However, when the plot and dialogue really work, they REALLY work. True friendship is displayed, the nature of heroism and rising to seemingly impossible challenges are portrayed and real sympathy and emotion can be felt as these great characters evolve along their arcs. It also doesn't hurt that the special effects are almost universally fantastic. Once in a while the CGI does look like computer animation, not like real artifacts of a fantasy world. More often than not, though, when we see the wind blow through Reepicheep's fur, it looks like real hair moving and when we see a tear flowing down the scaly face of a dragon, it looks like real water rolling down real scales. The mystical, misty apparitions alone are simply fascinating to observe (especially in 3D)!
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader isn't a perfect film and doesn't quite match the quality of the first film in the series, but it is solidly entertaining, funny in the right areas and occasionally as deep as the waters the film treads upon through the dawn. In short, the third Chronicles of Narnia film is fully worth at least Three and one half Stars out of Five! The preview audience I saw it with erupted into applause when the RealD Digital 3-D-enhanced animated credits rolled. So until popping through pictures leads to silly magic words and teaparties on the ceiling, this critic will see you and you and you and you and you in the next blue-star powered Reel.
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