The Chronicles of Narnia is one of the hardest franchises in today’s modern era. While I thoroughly enjoyed Prince Caspian, it neither did as well in the box office or was acclaimed as much as The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. That being said, Disney pulled out before The Voyage of the Dawn Treader finished and 20th Century FOX took over. FOX reinstated the Christian undertones that were gone in Caspian and created a fully enjoyable film. But the main question continues to be if it was all too late?
Dawn Treader follows Lucy and Edmund Pevensie (Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes) who travel back to Narnia with their annoying cousin Eustace (Will Poulter). They are greeted by King Caspian (Ben Barnes) as they head out to find the seven lost lords’ swords to save Narnia from an evil that comes from a very dark island.
Throughout their adventure they are tested by their inner weaknesses, especially with Lucy, as she feels she is not as beautiful as her older sister Susan (played in a memorable cameo by Anna Popplewell). Edmund is also tempted by the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) as well as believing that he isn’t as strong or respected as much as King Caspian.
This movie was made with a smaller budget than both of the first two films, but luckily it isn’t noticeable. What helps it that around 40-50% of the film takes place on the Dawn Treader itself, leaving the rest of the budget for some of the cool action scenes as well as the limited use of CGI.
Liam Neeson returns in smaller role as Aslan, the God-like creature that helps the Pevensie children on their quest. Simon Pegg takes over the role of Reepicheep (played by Eddie Izzard in Prince Caspian) in a very enjoyable role – as well as a heartbreaking scene towards the end of the film.
While Dawn Treader is by no means perfect, the film works as a whole and is a great family film. If FOX decides not to opt for continuing the franchise, the ending of this movie wraps up the ‘trilogy’ very well. And although neither Susan or Peter (William Moseley) are present in the original Dawn Treader novel, it was a nice touch to add cameos for each of them to keep some continuity.
Sadly, as of writing, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is drastically under performing in the box office for opening weekend. While not pleasing the Christian crowd did hurt Prince Caspian, those elements return in Dawn Treader and have many valuable lessons to be learned throughout the film.
Final Grade: 8.5/10