Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This entire series is actually quite interesting, after the first one did exceptionally well they expanded the budget for the 2nd one immensely. However the 2nd failed to reach sales expectations despite an enormous budget, so Disney stopped funding production of the third film, allowing Fox to pick it up shortly thereafter. As a result it has been a while since the last one was released so this film fills a bit fresher by default. Every one of the actors that returns from Prince Caspian is quite a bit older (I believe there were 4 years between filming) and they all act surprisingly well.

The visual effects are very impressive, and the setting upon a boat is pretty much always interesting to me. Naval movies like Das Boot, Pirates of the Caribbean (first one mostly), and Master and Commander are very interesting due to atmosphere alone. The film also introduces a new character, as once you "grow up" you can't return to Narnia so the primary 2 actors from the first 2 films don't show up for more than cameos, who is an annoying sort of comic relief that matures due to an interesting "transformation" midway through. He is the main character in the next book in the series, and since the rest of the series is fairly difficult to translate to film except for the Horse and his Boy I highly doubt that this movie will have yet another sequel. It hasn't done well at the box office so far either and is obviously about to get crushed by Tron, but it is an interesting series even if you don't take kindly to religious allegory.

CS Lewis used these books to show Christianity to his children in a fanciful manner, as is well known, but he didn't make it seem as though Christianity was the prohibitive only way to Heaven, thus making the books very readable to the modern eye and also making the films relatively politically correct. However this film has a strange idle line of dialogue right at the end that, while it doesn't point to Christianity, is still strangely out of place in the context of the film. This second opinion (from a fairly hit or miss reviewer, this one was right on though) doesn't seem to take much issue of it, presumably because he knows how the series shows other religions as viable as long as the worshipper is pure, even if the religion itself isn't. I've always thought highly of CS Lewis, and while it gets tiresome hearing fundamentalists cite him over and over it's still pretty humorous considering how little he'd agree with them.

Okay, great visual effects, interesting monsters, naval setting; what's not to like about this movie? Well, the witch is the best character by far in the first 2 films and only appears for brief cameos here, that hurts fairly bad. The plot itself is more or less a loosely tied together chain of events with a loosely tied together chain of people, and the primary villain is vague throughout (even though the climactic battle is great and the monster plays a much larger role than it did in the book), Liam Neeson is still present as God Aslan but he doesn't say a whole lot that's riveting. The best character is either a rat or a dragon, if that gives you an idea of how strange the plot is formulated. Overall I like the film and I wish they could continue even though they'd have to change casts every time from hereon out.

Final Grade: 7.5/10

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