Movie Review: Dawn Treader

December 14, 2010 at 2:02 pm | Posted in Books and Movies | Leave a comment

We went to see The Chronicles of Narnia, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader over the weekend, and we all enjoyed it.  Here is our short first-impressions review.  Most, if not all, of the major vignettes from the book were included in the movie; however, many of them were changed in detail and order.  There were numerous elements not in the original added to make the film a continuous narrative rather than the almost-disconnected stories found in the book.  I knew with Dawn Treader this would be an issue; the book, as written, would not make a very good movie.  Overall, I think the producers did a good job with the themes they added to connect the story.  Although stretching the idea too far, they magnified a theme from the Dark Island to create a mist that would eventually rule the world with evil, but the crew of the Dawn Treader could stop it, and the major part of their travels is dedicated to that end.  They also added the idea of personal temptation and the strength to overcome it.  I thought they did an especially good job with Lucy’s jealousy of her older sister, an idea that does come from the original book.

We were disappointed that they left out the part of Eustace trying to unskin himself as a dragon before he let Aslan do if for him, one of the best scenes in the seven-book series.  However, to their credit, they have Eustace mention later that he couldn’t do it himself, no matter how hard he tried.  We were disappointed that some of the vignettes ended in ways totally different than the book, when, it seems to me, there was no reason to do so.  How the crew got out of the slave trade in the Lone Islands is a prime example.  Finally, we were disappointed in the 3-D effects.  When you go see this film, don’t bother to pay the extra for it; this film will be just as good viewed flat.  We were especially looking forward to the battle with the sea serpent in 3-D, but that simply wasn’t spectacular at all.

On the positive side, the producers kept the redemption theme in place and, in spite of my complaint above, did show that Eustace had to be changed by Aslan to be a new person.  One of Aslan’s great statements, a line many evangelicals thought would be left out, is left intact.  When they are ready to leave Narnia, he tells the children that he is in their world with a different name. Finally on the positive side, I think they nailed the character of Eustace.  Will Poulter who plays the part was an excellent brat when the role called for it.  Yet the character change, brought on by his encounter with Aslan, is unmistakably portrayed.

I hope this film generates enough revenue to call for the production of The Silver Chair.  Not only is that my favorite book in the series, after Wardrobe, but it would be good to see Eustace again.  Besides, The Silver Chair introduces Puddleglum, one of Narnia’s great heroes and one of my favorite characters.  I’d love to see him on film.

For a different perspective on the added story of the mist, see Douglas Wilson’s review here. Wilson is a well-known pastor, and his son is a popular author of children’s fantasy books like the 100 Cupboards, which I reviewed here.

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