PG for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action.
Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Adaptation, Sequel
December 10, 2010
Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Simon Pegg, Liam Neeson
20th Century Fox
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CHRISTIAN MOVIE REVIEW
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
By Hannah Goodwyn
- The “Great Lion”, Aslan, returns to the big screen this Friday in 20th Century Fox’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a film based on the third book in C.S. Lewis’ beloved Chronicles of Narnia series. Produced in part by the famous author's stepson Douglas Gresham, Dawn Treader offers moviegoers an imaginative look at this God-inspired tale.
Though the film does not follow C.S. Lewis’ children’s book to a tee, the inspired changes help to make the movie an engaging experience. Visually captivating, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a delight to watch, well surpassing the appeal of its predecessor, Prince Caspian. Even beyond it being a memorable movie, Dawn Treader is a testament to faith. This version of Lucy and Edmund’s return to Narnia is capable of touching audiences on a spiritual level as it delves into the reality of temptation, the consequences of giving in to dark thoughts, and the hope we discover in redemption.
The Movie in a Minute
With Peter, Susan, and their parents away, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie are forced to stay with their miserable cousin Eustace. Longing for the days they spent as a king and a queen in Narnia, the two, along with their cousin, are granted access to the magical kingdom once again. Swallowed up in a painting, the three children soon join King Caspian and a brave soldier mouse named Reepicheep on their magnificent ship, the Dawn Treader, as they are looking for the seven lost lords of Narnia. To defeat an evil sweeping over the land, the voyagers must resist personal temptations and their greatest fears as they sail to mysterious islands, continuing to hold true to their faith in the protection of resurrected Aslan.
The Good and the Bad in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
C.S. Lewis starts this third book with, “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” This sentiment is perfectly captured on screen through the talented acting of a young Brit named Will Poulter. Playing the role of Eustace, Poulter reins in the necessary whiny demeanor of the story’s obnoxious character. New to Narnia, Eustace is the thorn in everyone’s side. Yet, his is the faith journey that is most appealing. His physical and spiritual transformation is beautifully portrayed and is one of the highlights of this new Narnia movie.
In the same vein, the rest of the characters come across in a much more engaging way than previously experienced in the first two films. Each role is backed with the levity and drama needed to make this Narnia adventure work. This is especially true for Will Poulter’s Eustace and his new friend, the mouse called Reepicheep, voiced by Simon Pegg. Scenes with these two are entertaining and incredibly moving. Ben Barnes returns as a vulnerable, yet strong King Caspian. (A plus is that Barnes forgoes his “foreign” accent for a British one, making him fit in nicely with the rest of the cast’s accents. This was director Michael Apted’s idea, and it was a good one.) The inner struggles experienced in Dawn Treader by Lucy and Edmund require actors Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes to perform at a higher level than previously needed. They hit every point. Liam Neeson’s Aslan does not appear on screen that often, but the integral moments he does, Neeson’s profound voice captures the urgency of his life-shaping messages to the children.
This adventure film has the potential to be personally affecting because of its good direction provided by filmmaker Michael Apted (Amazing Grace), the talented cast and crew, and the creative screenwriting. Simply put, it’s a beautiful movie. The Dawn Treader ship is gorgeous. The cinematography and special effects help to tell C.S. Lewis’ story in an enchanting way. This film’s quality only enhances the effect it could have on audiences.
Narnia purists will notice additions and changes in this version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Supporting characters were created for the movie and the darkness is illustrated on screen differently than readers experienced in the book. Even though changes were made, they were for the better. His points regarding temptation and the power of light over darkness remain intact.
Rated PG for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is clean of excessive violence and foul language (save one instance when Eustace takes God's name in vain under his breath). However, this adventure story may be too intense for younger children. A scene featuring a frightful-looking sea snake might be too scary for them to watch. Based on a fantasy book, the movie does highlight the “magic” used in Narnia for evil purposes and for good in the form of Aslan’s power over darkness. In these stories though, it is important to note that the children themselves do not possess any power. They are simply there to complete a mission, which grows them in spiritual maturity before they return to the stark reality of WWII England.
In the End
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a must see for all Narnia fans and those even the least bit curious as to how faith is portrayed in a fantasy film. It’s a fantastic movie with messages that are divinely inspiring and thought-provoking. Parents, take this opportunity to talk with your children Dawn Treader and what it says about temptation, evil, and redemption.
Buy The Voyage of the Dawn Treader on DVD!
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Hannah Goodwyn is the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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