On-Camera Review: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

by Eric Melin on December 10, 2010

in Video Reviews

Here’s my video review of the “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader” from KTKA-49.

“The Chronicles of Narnia” franchise, based on C.S. Lewis’ Christian-themed fantasy series for young adults, has had a rough go of it. Part of that is due to the fact that Disney dropped out as a distribution partner after the diminishing box office returns of “Prince Caspian.”

The other part is that neither of the first two films were able to capture any of the magic that made the books so enchanting.

Unfortunately, new director Michael Apted continues to struggle with “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” the third movie adaptation in the series. To say that it may be the best of the “Narnia” movies so far isn’t saying much.

It is helped slightly by having less main characters, since it only focuses on two of the Pevensie children and their latest adventure in the land of Narnia, but it still can’t escape the generic fantasy rut that plagued the other movies. It’s like “Lord of the Rings” Lite crossed with “The Pirates of the Caribbean.”

The book was very episodic, and the writers have a hard time putting together a compelling adventure from it. When your only villain is a lame computer-generated green smoke graphic, you know you’re in trouble. What’s worse, the movie’s been upconverted to 3D for no other reason than capturing higher ticket prices.

With no real sense of danger or urgency, the “adventure” of the Dawn Treader remains as by-the-books and generic as ever. What works better are the moments of doubt for young Lucy and Edmund. The only problem is, those scenes add up to about 5 minutes of the film.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers and regular critic for KCTV5. He’s a member of the BFCA, VP of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also the current 2013 Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jack duhamel December 10, 2010 at 11:03 pm

good job

- Jack Duhamel

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2 Elyse B December 26, 2010 at 2:44 pm

I have a qualm about your saying that this falls into ‘generic fantasy rut’, that it is, as you put it, Lord of the Rings Lite. You realize that this is an adaptation of a book published in 1952, right? It feels like we’ve seen it before simply because WE HAVE; this series is pretty much what most youth fantasy is based upon in one way or another for the last 60 years.

A movie like this one is about making the book come to life, not rewriting a classic children’s novel. It’s good to keep in mind the focus audience: kids.

Personally, I thought this was a beautifully done movie that touched on subjects that all people can think upon, but kept it from being so serious that it would have lost all joy.

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3 Eric Melin December 27, 2010 at 11:43 am

Elyse -

Thanks for your comments. You said some important things. I agree that this particular young fantasy series has a pretty big hurdle to overcome in that it has been ripped off zillions of times since the 1950s. I think that focusing on character could have alleviated the familiarity of some of the story rather than cramming in as many scenes as they could get. There were some nice moments of personal reflection for the kids, just not nearly enough.

The best thing about this series I can say is that maybe this film (and the other Narnia movies) could serve as primers for their audience as they discover better pictures. I hold Pixar up to the same standards, however, and most of their movies have it all!

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