The Chronicles of Narnia - 3

The third installment of The Chronicles of Narnia - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is a big disappointment. It is a badly made movie for those that are fans of the series and are familiar with its background. It is an unmitigated disaster for those that have not paid much attention to the prequels.

Notwithstanding the creatively and beautifully constructed special effects, the movie completely misses the point about storytelling. Awkward acting, trite dialogue, shallow characters and the lack of a single relationship that the audience should care about is just the beginning. Ably letting down is a screenplay that seems to be out of breath, always running to cover ground and make up for lost time. The choice of adventures seems inconsequential at best if not downright preachy. As with the rest of the series, the existence of Narnia seems to be little more than an ego-trip for some kids, no matter how sorry their plight. This movie does nothing to negate that feeling. When kids act like ego-maniacs it leaves the narrative nowhere - is it a allegorical tale of caution or the exploration of a child's psyche. The answer is no.

Continuing from the previous two movies, it is now the turn of the younger siblings - Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) to carry on their involvement with the fictional world of Narnia. This time, plucked out of their world by a leaking painting, the brother and sister discover that their hated cousin Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter) is also brought with them. Meeting Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) and seeing the world at peace, they are puzzled by their summoning. Soon, however, they discover that a number of islands that were once under Narnia's control had been plagued by a sinister sort of evil. Chasing it proves to be a test not only for their abilities, but also for their inner demons.

Besides Peter, I was never a fan of the rest of the cast of children for the series. This movie seems to have taken the younger two further, to unparalleled woodenness. Aslan and Reepicheep seemed more natural in comparison. The one character that seemed to really develop through the movie was, surprisingly, the newly introduced Eustace. In the end it is his transformation that helped redeem the movie, however slightly.

Watching the movie in 3D was yet another nail in the coffin. I am a big fan of the understated 3D. But when it is so understated that there isn't a single event that makes you want to duck - that is underdone. And there were ships, dragons, sea serpants, harpoons, sword fights - get it? Opportunities to make it worth watching the movie with those ridiculous glasses. All missed. Instead what you get is flat fight sequences that move so quickly that it is all a big blur, with no depth. That sounds like I was talking about the content of the movie as well.

It wasn't really all bad. With the adventure of the seven swords, the pace lets off to let the audience invest in the fight with the green mist. Cheer-worthily the Narnians fight back and all is well. Actually it is not, because what follows is further tedious sermonizing with yet another randomly picked bunch of characters. Come to think of it, that seems to be the modus operandi throughout the movie - unsuitable teams are picked with the express desire to prove a point, or deliver a quote. Making it all seem just a little more fake.

I understand the original books were written for children, but adapted screenplay is an opportunity for the story to grow up. Narnia 3, didn't. And that is reflected in the movie, through all the gorgeous CGI. What you see is the movie that could be, but never was.

January 03, 2011


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