The heroes of the Narnia series are back, at least most of them are, in this adaptation of the third novel in C.S. Lewis’s epic classic, The Chronicles of Narnia. They’ve already helped save Narnia from the White Witch and helped Prince Caspian reclaim his rightful place on the throne that had been taken from him. Now Narnia is once again in danger from something completely different, an evil that no one has been able to explain.
Like the other entries in the series, this one begins with the Pevensie siblings back in the regular world. Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) are currently staying at their uncle’s house with their annoying cousin, Eustace (Will Poulter), while Peter and Susan are in America. Edmund and Lucy aren’t exactly getting along well with Eustace which causes them to argue often. During one of these arguments, a picture on a wall of a boat on water suddenly comes to life and begins to spout water into the room until it is filled completely. When Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace resurface, they are immediately almost run down by a boat in the middle of an ocean.
To their surprise, it is captained by Caspian (Ben Barnes), who is also surprised by their sudden appearance, which can only mean that Narnia is once again in need of saving. Caspian explains that he is currently trying to locate seven lords. Later on, they meet a magician who tells them of a dark island that is the source of evil things that have been happening recently, including a mist that causes people to mysteriously disappear. In order to break the spell of the evil, they must locate the seven swords of the seven lords and place them upon Aslan’s table. However, this means that they must sail into uncharted waters, where they have no idea as to what awaits them.
This entry in the series has split critics directly down the middle with some giving it some praise for putting some magic back into the series while the other half have found it to be flawed in various ways. Unfortunately, I have to go with the latter group as this adaptation turned out to be a disappointment for a series that I have come to expect fun and adventure from. Sadly, this time around, the magic just wasn’t there.
Ultimately, the biggest flaw with Dawn Treader is its pacing. Practically nothing important happens for a vast majority of the film, leaving the audience to sit around and wait for the plot to advance, which very rarely happens throughout. The biggest sense of adventure the film is able to pull off is in its climactic battle sequence in which the crew must face off against a giant sea serpent, but even that becomes dull pretty quickly when you realize how anticlimactic the film is being.
In order to explain that, you need to take a second look at the plot. In order to break the spell, all that has to be done is to place seven swords (seven swords that are found incredibly easily) on a table. That’s it. The sea serpent is more a distraction that occurs in order to fill in the space where a bigger, more impressive decisive battle would be. The filmmakers just kind of hope you don’t notice this.
There are things to like about the film too. The characters are somewhat interesting to watch, even for a movie with as thin a plot as this. The character who ends up having the most personality is another one we’ve seen before, Reepicheep (Voice of Simon Pegg), a swashbuckling mouse. His character brightens the overall sense of dreariness that seems to have cast itself over the rest of the characters.
Also, the special effects are pretty good for the most part. There’s nothing that’s particularly impressive to look at here as a large portion of the film takes place on the boat, but there’s a small stretch of time that includes a fire-breathing dragon that’s done pretty well. Then there are parts like the fight with the giant sea serpent that are not done particularly well, which adds to how anticlimactic the film feels. To top that off, the film ends with a good ten minutes of goodbyes.
I always enjoyed the look of these films. The first two entries looked great and had the feel of really being there with plots that kept the story moving swiftly and the audience engaged. While Dawn Treader still had the look, it didn’t feel like a Narnia film because of its meandering storyline. It ends up feeling too episodic with events that really don’t end up going anywhere. I really wanted to enjoy it, especially since this will probably be the last adaptation from the series what with its poor reception. It’s just a shame they had to go out like this. 2.5/4 stars.
Now playing in theaters everywhere.
Also Now Playing: The Tourist, The Warrior’s Way, Tangled, The Next Three Days, 127 Hours, Burlesque, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, Fair Game, Unstoppable, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, Due Date, Megamind