Dec. 15, 2010 - Issue #791: NYE Guide 2010
Chronicles of Narnia - Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Dawn Treader has its adventurous spirit snuffed out by allegory
There isn't much character development—though one girl's yearning for her mother spills out of the story, suggesting the many orphans to come in Second World War England. The evil temptations and magical obstacles (especially wraiths of green mist) seem a bit outstripped by more recent fantasy-epic adaptations, but this Narnia cruise—helmed by Michael Apted this time around—is quaintly enjoyable enough in its own way. Until it's slowly sunk by a certain divine Lion, bringing along all his earnestness and preciousness.
While Lucy has a "mirror, mirror on the wall" episode of self-reflection on how much she's let her lack of self-worth conquer her, the movie belongs to Eustace, a complaining, unimaginative lad who's turned into a fiery hero over the course of the voyage. The ultimate battle, versus a writhing, gaping sea serpent, is rather thrilling. And the 3-D isn't thrust in your face but used more subtly, to steepen a gorge, deepen the shadows in caves, or ripple out underwater shots.
But the holy whispers of Aslan ("We have nothing if not belief"; "You just have to have faith"), Lewis's obvious Christ-figure, reverberate until he appears at movie's end, when we get a glimpse of his country (Heaven). The Harry Potter books were attacked by Christian groups for their supposed endorsement of witchcraft (as was the Oz series in the '50s, along with supposedly being pro-Communist), but The Voyage of the Dawn Treader finishes up altogether too preciously and piously. It comes off as a ride, all dressed up as a child-hero fantasy quest that's meant to lead us to one red-light moral: "In your world I have another name," Aslan tells us, his children, "You must learn to know me by it." So, back in our world's cinema pews, adventure's wonder gets preached away and its spirit snuffed out by religion.
Opens 10 December 2010
Directed by: Michael Apted
Written by: Christopher Markus (screenplay) & Stephen McFeely (screenplay) and Michael Petroni (screenplay)
Featuring: Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley
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