Reviews: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader
Streamlining the Dawn Treader
Having grown up with The Chronicles Of Narnia, I was excited about The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader movie. Like many people I know, it was my favorite book in the series. I loved each of the unique islands and the adventures that happened on the high seas, and having recently seen the new movie, I would venture the opinion that the changes made were for the better. When I went back and looked at the original book, it struck me that it did not have much potential in making a good movie. In the book, aside from the quest to find the seven lords, there was little overarching story to it. Each of the islands were just happened upon as the Dawn Treader sailed east and were all completely distinct and disjointed, having almost nothing to do with the each other. There was no urgency to their quest or a real reason for the Pevensies to be there. I think that the new movie did an amazing job of tying all the book's diverse elements together into a coherent, linear story. By adding the mysterious mist, not only did the movie give the Pevensies a purpose, it provided a driving force for the plot and connected all the misfortunes that befell the characters, as well as the seven lords' original quest into the east. I will admit that parts of the movie felt a bit rushed, but considering how much occurred in the book, I think that is Justified. I was disappointed at the lack of time spent in the Lone Isles. Caspian literally slicing the Isles' Obstructive Bureaucracy in half was always my favorite part of the book, but, again, given how little it contributed to the plot, I am willing to overlook it. I think my favorite addition to the story was the friendship between Reepicheep and Eustace. In the book, Reepicheep was given very little page-time and came off as very flat, and Eustace instantly became a better person when Aslan broke his dragon curse. In the movie, Reepicheep was given a fuller character by taking Eustace under his wing and being the voice of courage Eustace needed in the final battle. This made Eustace's Character Development much more realistic, and the goodbye at the world's end much more poignant. In short, if you're expecting an incredibly faithful adaptation, be forewarned. The movie does indeed tell a great story, just not the one you may be expecting.
Sea. The Final Frontier.
I have only seen the first Narnia movie and am sad to say that this movie didn't hold the same amount of epicness as that movie. In fact, you could even call it generic to the point in which if you replace all the Narnia characters with original characters, you won't know the difference. In fact, if this wasn't even a Narnia book/film, you wouldn't tell the difference. The plot is your generic "collect the seven MacGuffins to defeat the Big Bad", whose final battle isn't as climatic as the first one. If you've seen the scene from the first Ghostbusters film where the Staypuff Marshmellow Man appears, you will know exactly what I am talking about. There are also some subplots that either go nowhere or are forgotten at one point and then picked up in another. It's like if someone took a TV show, took every single episode (each with a different plot) from it, and tried to make a Compilation Movie out of it, and failed. It almost feels like an adventure show in the nineties, or if someone made Star Trek but had the ship travel to islands and not planets. One part I do like is Eustace. He simply steals the show. Where as Lucy and Edmund are accustomed to Narnia, Eustace isn't. Which leads to many funny moments in the film, including a scene where he tries to talk to a normal bird, and is made fun of by a minotaur. He's pretty much what would happen if you put Kyon in Middle Earth. His voice would have been annoying, but instead sounds oddly awesome. If this was an attempt to make The Scrappy, they failed epically. All and all, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader isn't exactly the epic Narnia sequel one would hope for. If you're a hardcore Narnia fan, this is for you. If you're expecting epicness, give this a pass. If you're into an adventure with several moments of comedy and a feel for 90s style story telling, check it out. If you just want to see a movie, this is a good movie for you to watch.
The New Movie: Lost Its Charm in the Polishing
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.