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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Random Factoid #478

18 11 2010

Today, ladies and gentlemen, I feel like a real critic.

Thanks to my incredibly well-connected Young Life leader, I was able to see “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” nearly a month before it hits theaters.  I was in one of the first audiences in the ENTIRE COUNTRY to see this movie, something that fills my inner blogger up with so much pride I could pop like a balloon.

But because I have seen it so early, I received something that real critics have to deal with all the time: embargoes.  For those who don’t read enough movie speculation to know what this term means, I’ll let you in on a little secret.  Until a certain date, I am not allowed to publish a review of the movie!  I am now waiting on the major trades to weigh in, and as soon as I see the first review pop up on Rotten Tomatoes, you’ll see it here!

I am, however, allowed to share with you some initial thoughts and reactions.  So I’ll do that on this post as I gloat in my embargoedness, a noun which I am totally making up.  “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is definitely a step in the right direction for the “Narnia” series, much more like “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” than “Prince Caspian.”  Changing distributors really made a big difference as Disney turned the series more commercial, while Fox has allowed Walden Media to make the series more spiritual.  The movie leaves you with a whole lot of questions, ones that it challenges you to answer on your own.

The real question is: will you answer them?

What To Look Forward To in … December 2010

15 11 2010

Hard to believe we are rapidly approaching the last month of 2010!  Enjoy the movies now, because soon Hollywood will be offering us its scraps.  We have an interesting December slate peppered with Oscar contenders and blockbusters, so it makes for an interesting mix.  Let’s get started at our look!

December 3

I’ve already seen “Black Swan” (mwahaha), and you need to see it.  Not for the faint at heart, I must warn.

FINALLY opening after being shuffled from preview post to preview post is “I Love You Phillip Morris,” the racy comedy starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor as lovers.  It’s changed release dates so many times, in fact, that I’m not going to write anything about it just in case I jinx it.  Also opening is “The Warrior’s Way,” which looks to potentially play “Norbit” for Geoffrey Rush’s Oscar chances.  And “All Good Things” looks like a jumbled mess that might be worth checking out on video if for no other reason than to see Kristen Wiig’s first major dramatic turn.  If you really need a Christmas movie, check out no-name distributor Freestyle’s release of “The Nutcracker” in 3D with Dakota Fanning’s sister and Nathan Lane!

Also in limited release is a documentary on Benazir Bhutto, the assassinated former Prime Minister of Pakistan, called “Bhutto.”  I think she would be a fascinating subject, and I sure hope it comes to Houston.

December 10

“The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” looks to undo the disastrous effects of Disneyfication on C.S. Lewis’ classic series.  After “Prince Caspian,” the series needs a strong recovery.  Here’s to hoping the venture with Fox can do it.

As for “The Tourist,” I like anything with Angelina Jolie and Johnny Depp.  This could be a totally formulaic thriller, but it’s Christmas and I have time to see whatever.

For all those interested in having Julia Taymor’s bad trips mess with their mind, “The Tempest” opens in limited release this Friday.  The weekend also brings us “The Company Men” with Ben Affleck, which tackles the issue of unemployment in America.  Unfortunately, the zeitgeist movie market has pretty much been cornered with “The Social Network,” so it’s going to take a backseat.  “Hemingway’s Garden of Eden” also heads your way in limited release, yet even with the big name expatriate author out in front, this still doesn’t excite me in the slightest.

Oh, and opening limited this weekend and wide December 17 is a little movie called “The Fighter.”  It just stars a few no-names like Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale.  It’s kind of got some minor buzz, so it could be worth checking out.  (Note the sarcasm.)

December 17

How Do You Know” is my top mainstream pick for December.  The combination of the light dramedy of James L. Brooks with stars like Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd, and Jack Nicholson is just endlessly appealing to me.

I feel like the jury is still out on what will become of “Tron: Legacy.”  It’s sure going to be a visual effects phenomenon worth my IMAX money, but is it going to be any good?  Quality doesn’t seem to shine through the numerous trailers.  Maybe it’s some ’80s child thing I don’t get.

I’ve also seen “Rabbit Hole,” and it is more than worth your time and money in the busy Oscar bait season.  Nicole Kidman is astounding.  Also in the indie spectrum, Kevin Spacey stars in the late George Hickenlooper’s “Casino Jack,” a story of big influence on Capitol Hill.  Expect the two-time Oscar winner to hit out of the park as usual.

In case your family was looking to fill the void that “Alvin and the Chipmunks” left in the holiday season, Warner Bros. has quite a treat in store for you with “Yogi Bear!”

December 22

As for big name, sure-fire Oscar bait, it doesn’t get much better than the Coen Brothers’ “True Grit.”  It’s the perfect holiday movie that is totally not for the holiday season.

For more shoddy kids’ entertainment, you could also check out “Gulliver’s Travels” if you think that a non-animated Jack Black still has the capability to be funny.  I don’t think he does, to be honest.  As for “Little Fockers,” I don’t want to ruin whatever jokes the movie has up its sleeve by watching the trailer.  Who knows, there could be few to be had.

In limited release, moody hipster Sofia Coppola has a new movie, “Somewhere,” to totally disrupt the mood of your holiday season.  There’s also Gwenyth Paltrow in “Crazy Heart” — I mean, “Country Strong.”  More on that when it opens wide in January.

I’ve been hearing good things all year about “The Illusionist,” an animated movie about a magician, NOT the Edward Norton starrer from 2006.  It obviously won’t be making Houston in 2010, but I hope I get to catch it some time before it hits Netflix.

December 29/31

The year closes with three awards-type movies: the depressing “Biutiful,” the Mike Leigh unfunny comedy “Another Year,” and the intense NC-17 “Blue Valentine.”  I’ll see all three, but the only one I’ll be rushing the box office for is the latter, starring Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams.

So, what are YOU looking forward to in December?  I’m tightening up the poll this month to save some space by eliminating some of the less popular titles that never get votes.