I grew up reading the book and watching the BBC adaptation of Dawn Treader
, so I went into this movie with obvious biases. But, even when analyzing the film objectively, it feels flawed in ways that the book wasn't.
First off is the added plot in the film. I can understand adding an overarching plot, as the book was mostly simple exploration with no driving force, but the plot they came up with can best be described as "take a bunch of tired old fantasy cliches, blend a bit, then pour over Narnia". The mist of evil feels out of place in a series where the evil threats always had a name, face, and goal, the swords are blatant Contrived Coincidence Plot Coupons
, the White Witch cameo is just tacked on, and nothing is ever explained.
The movie tries to streamline the major events of the book, but in the process loses a lot of the feel of them. The reconquest of the Lone Islands is turned from a bit of clever thinking into a standard fight scene. Deathwater Island no longer has the sense of horror as the characters realize that they could have ended up like the Lord. And worst of all, the Dark Island is now just an evil lair with a Boss Fight
instead of embodying the Primal Fear
that dreams can hold.
Characterization also suffers. While the scenes with Eustace and Reepicheep bonding are a definite improvement, the two of them are left out scenes where they had shown Character Development
and Hidden Depths
in the books. In fact, most of the times where characters show insight and clever thinking have been changed in ways to eliminate it. Edmund arguably suffers the worst, as his conflict with Caspian and temptation by the Witch come off as the writers just transferring Peter's characterization from Prince Caspian
onto him. Lucy is somewhat better, as her temptations do come from the book, but it still feels like they tried to give her Susan's role, including adding a superfluous female character for Lucy to be a big sister to.
My basic assessment is: It's an enjoyable enough popcorn flick, as long as you don't go in expecting the charm of the book. If you do, it can become almost unwatchable because of the changes.