Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy) (2010)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn TreaderIf there's anything that Walden Media's CHRONICLES OF NARNIA movie franchise (based on C.S. Lewis' timeless novels) is known for lately, it could very well be that it ever continued at all. The first film, THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE, was a box office smash, but successor PRINCE CASPIAN didn't achieve the same success. But when Disney, who distributed and funded both films, decided not to participate in anymore NARNIA adventures, it seemed as though Lewis' tales were destined to remain forever frosted by the White Witch. But thankfully, Walden Media refused to let NARNIA die so easily, and so they've teamed up with 20th Century Fox to complete the third movie in the series, THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER. It could also very well be the last entry; critics have been lukewarm to negative on this film, and faced with so much competition this year from family films such as TRON LEGACY, HARRY POTTER, and even upcoming duds like YOGI BEAR and GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, this film could very well have a hard time finding its audience. Whether the franchise continues or not is ultimately irrelevant, however, because what ultimately counts is that THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER is a wonderful way to spend another two hours in the world that Lewis conjured up so many years ago.

I knew it would happen. From the moment the opening titles came across the screen, I could feel the nostalgic magic so prevaliant in the first NARNIA movie seeping in, and it stayed that way for me the whole time. The major difference, of course, is the set-up of the story. Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund Pevensie (Skander Keyes), both approaching adulthood, are staying with their snarky, obnoxious cousin, Eustace (Will Poulter) when they notice a beautiful painting of a fantastical ship sailing on the ocean waters. And of course, the picture comes to life, resulting with the squabbling children washed on the deck of the ship in question, the Dawn Treader, where their old friend, Caspian (Ben Barnes), now a bonafide king, welcomes them. It turns out that Caspian is searching for the seven lords that were banished from Narnia during the reign of his evil uncle. Acompanied by the swashbuckling mouse warrior, Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg), the youngsters travel to various islands across the oceans in search of them. And will Aslan (voiced, once more, by Liam Neeson) be there to help them? You betcha.

In addition to being a seagoing adventure (inevitable since most of the action takes place on the titular vessel), this tale also deals with spiritual matters. Rather than matching wits against an evil menace as with the last two films (although the White Witch does make some brief cameo appearances), the major conflict deals with Lucy, Edmund, Caspian, and especially Eustace, all dealing with their own inner demons. Each island adventure places the quartet through a series of psychological trials that they must overcome. The lands they visit are a strange, yet fascinating lot. There's the Lost Islands, operated by greedy slavemasters who make fortunes out of auctioning kidnapped people to baddies. Another is seemingly deserted, trippy-looking place that looks as though it could come from ALICE IN WONDERLAND inhabited by invisible creatures as well as a magician (whose book can conjure up all kinds of spells, including one that grants pure beauty). Still others include a cave with a pond that turns everything into gold, a dragon's treasure horde, an abandoned temple that turns out to be under a spell, and, ultimately, a thick fog of darkness in which one's worst fears comes alive. It is within these places that each character undergoes some growth. One of my particular favorite scenes involves Lucy wishing she could be as beautiful as her older sister Susan (Anna Popplewell, in a brief cameo), until Aslan admonishes her for stealing the spell from the magician's book. This is very powerfully depicted through dramatic lighting and emotionally charged acting. At one point, Edmund and Caspian both become jealous of each other when they are tempted by greed, but it's ultimately Eustace who shows the most growth in the picture.

In the beginning of the film, Eustace is just about what you would expect from Lewis' text--he's snobbish, selfish, and condescending, delighting in bullying others while declaring himself superior. He hates his cousins and quickly makes an enemy out of Reepicheep, who, at one point, chastises him for grabbing his most precious attribute: "No one touches the tail!" And just when you've had enough of him, he is transformed into a fire-breathing dragon midway through the film. This is where Eustace's character development really begins, as Reepicheep takes him under his, well, paws, and inspires him to do the right thing. This abovementioned dynamic is the heart of the entire picture, and most of the credit goes to Will Poulter and Simon Pegg for their chemistry. Poulter does a bang-up job of making Eustace bratty and unlikeable, and his maturation is a joy to behold. This guy seriously needs an award for his performance. Pegg, although vocally different from predecessor Eddie Izzard, is a delight as the mouse warrior; his voice is a cross between John Cleese and Cary Elwes, which captures his attitude to a T and beyond. He has the best lines in the picture and obviously has fun with his role--although the real success to the character is the very convincing computer-animated effects that bring the mouse to life.

That's one of the many memorable aspects of VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, which isn't to say that it is without its faults. The film is directed by Michael Apted (the previous ones by Andrew Adamson), and he moves the tale along at a rapid pace, making it the breeziest (and shortest) of the NARNIA films. However, I do have some qualms about both his direction and the adaptation; one of them is the scene where Eustace shows himself as a dragon for the first time. Rather than having him see his reflection in the water, Apted decides instead to show Eustace's charred clothes, and then have his dragon form fly out of nowhere. This disappointed me somewhat, as I felt that Lewis' original description of this moment was more powerful. Furthermore, the encounter with Lilandi (Laura Brent), Caspian's future queen, is dealt with rather quickly. An extra five minutes to show Caspian's affection for the girl wouldn't have hurt. Finally, although the film is faithful to the novel for the most part, there is at least one addition that felt very pointless--a girl named Gael (Arabella Morton) who stows away with her father in search of her missing parents. The new character doesn't have a particularly compelling personality and feels so irrelevant that one wonders why the screenwriters included her at all.

But those are, truthfully, the only quibbles I have with THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER. Other controversial changes are nowhere nearly as bothersome. At first I wasn't so sure about the newly invented subplots concerning the search for the missing swords of the seven lords or a menacing green mist that appears every time a character is tempted, but in the end, I ultimately approved them wholeheartedly. This especially works in favor of the climactic fight against one of the ugliest sea serpents ever committed to film (particularly when it literally tears apart into the likeness of a centipede), which is occasionally interspersed with ghostly images of Tilda Swinton's White Witch tempting Edmund to join her. Although longer than in the book, this sequence is nonetheless very thrilling and arguably a more epic scene than in the original. (It should be known, though, that this scene may be too scary for the young.)

Every other aspect of the picture is exactly what one would ask for from a NARNIA adventure. The cinematography and visual effects are both breathtaking and gorgeous to look at (there were a couple of places where some CG was obvious, but not enough to detract--the film was made on a smaller budget than predecessor CASPIAN), and David Arnold's score is amazingly epic, occasionally using some of original composer Harry Gregson-Williams' original tunes at various points in the movie. Finally, the performances are top-notch. Henley's Lucy has always been the most appealing attribute about the whole story, and she is no different here. Every minute she is on screen is a pure delight, and her expressions and emotions are perfectly conveyed. Keyes, who had a much smaller part in the previous movie, gets to do a lot more in this third chapter; granted there are some moments where one feels that his character briefly reverts to his old self, but Keyes handles that very effectively. Barnes mysteriously loses the Spanish accent he was criticized for in the last film, yet it is hardly noticeable, as his performance is much more confident this time around. The chemistry between all three is fantastic and, after Eustace and Reepicheep, provide the film with a warm, emotional ebb that works effectively in the final parting scenes at the end of the film.

Overall, THE VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER, although not quite as magical as the first movie, is still a very entertaining, joyous escapist fantasy which provides a lot of fun for every second of its 115 minute running time. There are some differences from the book that purists may quibble with, and a couple of scenes that could stand to be either better or at least more fleshed out, but nonetheless it is a pleasure to join the Pevensies on one final adventure in the world of talking animals, monsters, prophecies and enchantment. Whether the series continues or not, this is a fitting end and a delight from start to finish. Now if only the film could be about 30 minutes longer....

Right off the top, if you're looking for a literal book-to-movie adaptation, you're going to be very disappointed. Aslan may as well be a tiger. There are countless modifications that did not completely align with the book and numerous subtleties noticeable to anyone familiar with the story.

For the most part, however, TVOTDT stayed true to form, following Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) along with their easy to hate cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) through the fabric of a family painting and into the vast tapestry of the Narnian world created by C.S. Lewis and onto the Dawn Treader (the ship in the painting). Aboard the ship the join forces with recently crowned a year in Earthly time, and three in Narnia King Caspian (Ben Barnes) who, along with his crew of sentient beasts and willing sailors, seeks out seven Telmarine lords and swords. Almost immediately after they board the Dawn Treader, and unequivocally after they disembark for their first island excursion, the movie begins to take liberties with the original tale. Speaking of tales...Eustace did NOT spar with Reepicheep; he swung the mouse around by the tail. This sort of misguided subtraction by addition is why many fans of the original storyline could be displeased by this movie. Nonetheless, it's still a fantasy-adventure tale in which the characters grow and learn from their tribulations.

Acting-wise, everything was professionally done. Actors and voice actors alike were entertaining (Simon Pegg was particularly good as the voice of heroic Reepicheep), but Will Poulter absolutely stole the show as the obnoxious cousin. I'm not sure I've ever wanted to punch an animated character before. Maybe Scrappy Doo. Anyway, Poulter is either as pompous and irritating as Eustace in real life, or idiot savant, Rainman brilliant.

CGI is naturally prominent in a movie about talking animals, dragons, and magic. None blew me away like in Avatar or Tron, but considering the target audience the realism presented was, in my opinion, nearly perfect. Scary, but not quite nightmare-worthy. The characters that were supposed to be terrifying (i.e. sea serpent) were shrouded in shadows and those who had redeeming qualities were shown in triumph and sunlight, and ways that capture the audience's attention.

Considering its engaging story and alignment with Christian allegories, this is a very good movie, an easy recommendation for families, and a worthy addition to the Chronicles of Narnia canon, despite not completely faithful to the book.

For thoroughness, a few of the differences...


The addition of the green mist and the sword collection was neither necessary nor a substantive improvement. The extra subplot about a father, and his stowaway child, who joins to save a wife captured by the mist was completely pointless and distractive.


-Edmund had no big problem with his king-kid-king timeline

-No mention of the Dufflepuds giant foot looking like a mushroom.

-The sea serpent didn't die; it got tricked

-Eustace attempts steals water, not an orange

-Where is the old dragon that croaks near the water?

-The end mentions nothing about light and water

-The end mentions nothing about a marriage

-There was no prisoner/slave saving; it was a purchase

-Multiple island substories are intertwined and/or out of order

-Lord Bern got married and settled down on Felimath; he didn't get imprisoned

Buy The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy) (2010) Now

For those seeking a good fantasy/adventure film, this is definitely worth it the acting, casting, special effects, visuals, etc. are all great; the basic plot of a voyage to uncharted isles in a magical land is just ripe for entertaining movie-making I'd probably give it at least 4 stars if I wasn't so attatched to CS Lewis's book. But, to me, the book this is based upon is such a great adventure story, and a classic favorite of my (and many other people's) youth, it seems a sin to make a movie adaptation and not try to stick with Lewis's original. They got the main plot sequences in, but they rushed through them in order to add a completely unneccesary plot of their own: that Caspian and friends have to collect 7 swords and arrange them on a table to stop some magic mists that are threatening Narnia. Now, for a series with a Christian subtext, it seems particularly stupid to have this meaningless mumbo-jumbo added when there are plenty of meaningful themes there that this will only detract from.

So overall, an entertaining fantasy film, but a disappointment to those who like Narnia as C.S. Lewis wrote it.

Read Best Reviews of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Blu-ray / DVD / Digital Copy) (2010) Here

At least on Amazon right now, this is the only 3 Disc (BD, DVD, Digital Copy) version for sale. So I had no choice. But the photo Amazon includes does not show this case as being anything other than the standard plastic case with a sleeve.

Which I would have loved. But nothing I hate more than a crappy storage case for a 3 disc blockbuster title.

I have included pics. I give this product 3 stars for "OK". Even though I hate it. If you want a movie review, check out the many movie review sites. If you want a film transfer review for video and audio quality, check out

This is one of the most annoying storage cases I have owned. The worst was the Toy Story complete box set, which was so bad that I returned it at a loss and bought all the films individually with multiple versions just to have the better cases.

So what makes this storage so bad? Check out the pics. It's basically paper sleeves for the discs (2 of 3), folded together. And then that folded mess it stuffed into a box sleeve, and then that sleeve is pushed into the box sleeve you see in Amazon's photo. If they would have duplicated the outer box art and disc specs from the front and back, onto the internal Box sleeve, I could at least ditch the outer box sleeve and store just the inner box sleeve on the shelf. But the inner box (while it does have specs like rating, time, etc on the back) is not as detailed as the outer box sleeve.

So it's annoying when having to get out the discs and more importantly I don't trust paper sleeves to protect the finish of the discs due to sliding motions across the disc surface.

Again, no other choice if you want BD and DVD in the same purchase/set. And even if I wanted to spend more and buy them separately, you can't on Amazon. They sell the DVD only or this set. I wish everyone would just stick to the standard BD case or case/sleeve.

UPDATE: It's not even standard BD case height! They could have at least made this crappy box look good on the shelf with all the other Blu-Rays. Who wants to mix their BD movies with their DVD cases? Again, if there was another combo set to buy, I would return this one.

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Of all the Narnia books "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is not an exciting Hollywood adventure. I have read the books many times since I was a child and I have listened to them on audio cd's. I love them and I love the movies.

I doubt people, these days, are going to sit through a movie based exactly on this book. The book is a series of small self contained adventures with no kind of antagonist present. Its a good read but not much of a Hollywood movie. So they changed it, just like the second movie. Big deal.

There were plenty of advance reviews warning people about this. I have never gone to a movie, based on a book I have read, and expected it to be the same. If it is, great. If not, no big deal, because I go without expectations. It's much more fun if you leave your expectations at home.

Besides, it's just a movie. If you can't deal with the fact that you are going to see someone's interpretation, other than your own, than don't go to movies based on books you have read. Or at least check the reviews before you go.

I sure hope some studio gives the "Silver Chair" and "The Last Battle" a go. I'm sure they would be fun to watch.

That's why I go to the movies.

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