I liked the first The Chronicles of Narnia film (The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe) a lot. It was epic, adventurous, and heartwarming. Its sequel (Prince Caspian) however, was not as good as its predecessor, especially in terms of visual spectacle. This third installment is called The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and it is the weakest of the lot for many reasons.
Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes reprise their roles as Lucy and Edmund respectively, and their acting is relatively good. These two characters have grown up quite a bit since the last time we saw them, and thus are dealing with more mature problems. Lucy thinks she’s not pretty enough and Edmund wants more attention and power. Kids of both gender can relate to Lucy and Edmund’s struggles easily, which is the most engaging aspect of the film.
There is new character here called Eustace who is played by Will Poulter, and he is mostly used for comic relief. The real problem is the Prince Caspian character played again by Ben Barnes, who is a totally wooden actor. Prince Caspian is supposed to be a fearless and inspiring leader, but Barnes’ complete lack of emotion kills the character, and also every frame he’s in.
Our protagonists set sail on board the Dawn Treader in one of those “find X number of items” missions. Here, Prince Caspian and team have to locate seven swords. The problem with this type of storytelling is that you are only waiting for them to collect all the items so that the plot can move forward. Fortunately for this film, there were other subplots for you to follow other than the main objective, so you don’t get so caught up in getting all the swords.
The climax of this film is a big fight scene with a giant fish monster. While entertaining to watch, it was ultimately forgettable. Liam Neeson’s voice returns in the form of Aslan the Lion, and he is the “Yoda” character who only comes out to say wise things. The fact that Aslan did not appear much only left me with a desire to watch the first Narnia again.
The Narnia films have often been compared to The Lord of the Rings, but The Voyage of the Dawn Treader feels more like a Pirates of the Caribbean type of deal. It is harmless and inoffensive, definitely safe for family movie night, but lacks the epic punch that made the first Narnia so memorable.