REVIEW: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

6 12 2010

C.S. Lewis’ Narnia book series has been a favorite of Christians for years.  They jumped for joy when Disney and Walden Media adapted “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe,” producing an audience hit that barely concealed its allegory for Christ.  Then came “Prince Caspian,” which was a purely Disney movie that deserves to be scoffed at.  The final kiss at the end between Susan and Caspian, the obligatory Disney kiss that was nowhere to be found in Lewis’ work, was an absolutely appalling end to a movie that strayed so far from its roots no thanks to the encouragement of the studio.

But after “Prince Caspian” took in a disappointing sum, Disney dropped the series and left Walden Media to find a new distributor if they wanted the books to be adapted.  After some searching, the group partnered with 20th Century Fox to present “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

It’s amazing to see the difference a studio can make.  Fox and Walden’s Narnia is a reason for Christians everywhere to rejoice as it lays its foundation firmly back in the faith that has made Lewis’ books beloved for generations.  The movie gets its message across clearly but still leaves room for thought and pondering, all while providing great action and entertainment.


Peter and Susan are too old to return to Narnia, but Edmund and Lucy soon find themselves whisked back to the world full of magic and wonder with an unintended guest, their cousin Eustace.  Aboard the ship Dawn Treader with old Narnian running buddy Caspian, now King of Narnia, they embark on a voyage to save the kingdom that will take them to some dangerous outskirts.  There, they face dangerous obstacles, beasts, and ultimately, even themselves.

“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” runs about 30 minutes less than both of its predecessors, but it feels just as long thanks to some pretty slow plotting.  This ship stays tied to the deck a little too long and then sets an unhurried course towards the final destination.  They journey through relatively still and calm waters, often making us feel like there is little going on at all.  However, it does pick up at a nice clip at the end when the exciting climax comes about.  Yet if pressed to tell you what the movie is about, I really wouldn’t be able to speak much to its plot simply because there really isn’t much substantial development.

But C.S. Lewis was not a writer who just wrote stories; he conveyed overarching ideas and themes that were much more important than the plots of any of his books.  Through the majestic Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson with his divinely-sounding cords) and Reepicheep, the courageous little mouse that could (voiced by Simon Pegg), we can hear the author loud and clear.  And through him, we can hear the message of the Gospel.  For the millions of people who will see this movie, that’s the single most important thing to be heard and taken from the movie.  B+

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7 responses

8 12 2010
Barb

Sorry, but it is Peter and SUSAN who are too old to go back, and Edmund and LUCY that do go. Whoops.

8 12 2010
Marshall

Oh my, that’s mortifying! I’ll correct that quickly!

8 12 2010
tomclift

I usually like movies with religious themes (despite not being religious myself), but I’ve got to say that I found the Christian undertones pretty unsubtle in this film, and overall they detracted from my enjoyment.

9 12 2010
T. Stephenson

To Mr. Tom Clift,
You must be well versed in the Bible, otherwise, you would not have noticed the “unsubtle Christian undertones.” Many people did not connect the dialog of WWL and the Bible verses that accompanied them. I am impressed, and am sure Mr. Lewis would be pleased!

9 12 2010
Harry

So, I haven’t seen this movie, and I actually didn’t see Prince Caspian, but I saw the first and read most of the books. I just wanted to point out something interesting about this idea of Christian imagery or undertones that permeate in films and stories, which is that the idea of Christianity being a present and noted force in a film is considered absolutely okay, and for many people a positive thing. However, I can’t help but think about something like, The Golden Compass (a terrible movie, admittedly) and the hullabaloo that was a black cloud over that film and His Dark Materials Trilogy that it was based on. I just find it interesting the way that Christian imagery and ideas are always depicted positively, and I think most people would scoff if say, a bunch of atheists and agnostics were to protest the release of such films. However, it’s completely different when Christian groups decide to protest a movie with atheistic or agnostic tendencies.

Sorry, I’m not trying to stir the pot (or at least not in a way that’s meant to be disrespectful), this is just something I’ve been thinking about, especially lately with things like atheist societies and associations putting up billboards which are vehemently protested and denounced by Christian organizations. Anyway, I enjoyed the first movie, wasn’t all that floored for the second one, and this one just looks sort of middling. The books will always be worlds better, so I’m not sure if I want to mess up my image of them.

11 12 2010
Marshall

I do think that’s an interesting point to make. Add it to the list of other societal double-standards to address in our lifetime.

15 12 2010
Luqa

This movie was amazing! It has a great plot and message. The only downside is Eustace and Ramandu’s daughter.

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