The Narnia movies adapted from the books by CS Lewis, may have sold fewer tickets than the Harry Potter blockbusters, but are visually inventive, special effects-heavy fantasy sagas that the fans have faithfully embraced.
Third in the series of Narnia films, “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” opens in wartime England, and sees the two younger Pevensie siblings, Lucy and Edmund reluctantly staying at the home of their irritating cousin Eustace. The quarrelsome trio is sucked into an animated painting and transported back to Narnia where they find themselves aboard King Caspian’s magnificent ship. The adventure this time involves the retrieval of seven swords that, when laid on the table of Aslan, will rid Narnia of a terrible evil.
There is much by way of CGI thrills in this film, including fire-breathing dragons and nasty sea-monsters; there are also some terrific sword-fighting sequences that work well in 3D. But what’s missing in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is the presence of a formidable villain to raise the stakes. The demons to be destroyed this time are those that lie within our heroes. And while that’s an interesting mature theme that befits the series as it comes of age, there’s nothing quite like a compelling villain to make the action on screen more urgent – think Tilda Swinton as the White Witch in the first film.
The only member of the cast who appears to be having any fun in his role is Will Poulter, the young star of the excellent indie film, “Son of Rambow”, who plays the snotty cousin Eustace, whose personal transformation drives the narrative in this film.
“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” moves briskly from one set piece to another, never concentrating enough on its characters and their emotional growth along this journey. It’s not an unwatchable film, just never quite as satisfying as the first in the series.
I’m going with two-and-a-half out of five for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”. Loyal fans are unlikely to skip it; but if you haven’t seen the previous two, this one is hardly your best introduction to the series!