Written by: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni (screenplay), CS Lewis (novel)
Directed by: Michael Apted
Starring: Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Will Poulter
My rating is simple, Watch It, It Depends, Skip it. Read my previous movie reviews!
Lucy and Edmund Pevensie return to Narnia with their cousin Eustace where they meet up with Prince Caspian on his ship The Dawn Treader. They encounter dragons, dwarves, merfolk, and a band of lost warriors before reaching the edge of the world.
It fills the void that Harry Potter doesn't quite cover for the of ignore elementary school age children. It's a fun adventure, and while it has a lot of symbolism, the movie doesn't get mired in it.
While the series reaches a younger audience, this offering doesn't approach the big moments of the first Narnia movie. Dawn Treader is just adequate, not fully developing the book or themes. It doesn't ask much of the viewer which is good and bad.
This has a quick start, with water pouring out of a painting on the wall. It doesn't take the time to develop Edmund and Lucy's feelings of abandonment as much as I'd like. Giving them a bit of characterization from the start could have been the foundation for better character development. Instead only Eustace is developed, and that's just to establish he's the annoying bratty cousin. Will Poulter plays up the role to great effect. The adventure changes him for the better, so at least one character has an arc.
The sword fighting is mild, making this suitable for younger ages. Caspian and the gang must retrieve seven sword from seven lords so that they can vanquish an evil mist. Along the way Lucy addresses her fears that she's not pretty enough and Edmund confronts his subordination. Both of their arcs feel like the bare minimum that could be done and still constitute an arc. They are children that have lived full lives as royalty in Narnia, now they're living life again. It's an interesting concept that I wish was explored more.
While I've read the book, I don't remember enough to speak to the accuracy. As with all adaptations, things change and the books have been compressed to fit the movie.
While there is plenty of symbolism, it seems the movie toned it down. The ending specifically is quite a bit different.
Dawn Treader never approaches the heights of the first movie, which had some spectacular moments. This movie isn't building as big of a story. Eustace is the main character, transformed by his tribulations and through Aslan's intervention. He changes from an insufferable scrub to an actual human being.
This came through the door opened by The Lord of the Rings (2001), offering a more kid friendly series that never quite took off like the The Lord of Rings franchise. The Narnia series is many more books and it wasn't as popular as it's competition at the time, Harry Potter.