The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (Movie Review)

A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of attending an early screening for the latest Narnia movie - Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Knowing that the film is being released this weekend, I am anxious to share my thoughts about the film with you in time for you to make your holiday movie going plans.

Dawn Treader has always been one of my favorite books in the Narnia series (alongside Magician's Nephew and Wardrobe) and for this reason I REALLY wanted to like the movie as well. I sat in suspense as the curtains drew back and the lights dimmed, ready to adventure in the world I had grown to love over the years. Would I be returning to Narnia again, or would I be left wondering where I was?

Now before I venture too far into my review let's get one thing straight. Even though I'm an author, I'm not on of those "purists" who thinks that movies must be identical to their book counterparts. After all, each art form has its own strengths and the stories must therefore be translated into the language of film. Dawn Treader wasn't a perfect film but I am happy to say it was an incredibly enjoyable experience that managed to keep my attention and communicate the message and essence of the book despite several glaring alterations to the story.

In short (for you Narnia buffs):
  • Yes, there were changes.
  • Yes, some of them were frustrating
  • No, the White Witch is not a major role and fits nicely in the storyline where they placed her. (I actually loved what they did with this part)
  • Yes, the movie was better than Caspian.
I liked this movie. It was a fun and inspiring sea voyage with a wonderful message that is definitely worth watching in theaters. But this film shines where most "questing" stories fall flat - the diversity and likability of the characters. Eustace has always been one of my favorite characters in the Narnia books and he could not have been cast better. Will Poulter does an outstanding job at bringing this beloved character to life. He's such a little dweeb at first but you grow to love him by the end. He plays the part perfectly.

The special effects in this movie were fantastic in some places (the Magician's castle), but left something to be desired in others (the Dragon). Overall it was a good use of effects, though I wonder if Walden got their money's worth.

The best part of the film is that the message of Narnia rings true. I got goosebumps at the end when the children realized the would not be returning to Narnia again. Aslan tells them they must come to know him by his name in their world and that all of their adventures in Narnia were meant to help them find him. It was a great scene!

My only concern for younger audience members is the final battle sequence in the Dark Island. Things get a bit frightening with the Sea Serpent here and the special effects are pretty fantastic. Not only is the Sea Serpent truly frightening and believable, but the sequence seems to last twice as long as it should taken the horror of it all to new heights. It is quite possibly the most graphic of sequences in any of the Narnia movies.

In all, I would give this film 4 stars (out of 5). If you are looking for a fun holiday adventure this is definitely one to go see in theaters.