Monday, December 20, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Spoiler Level: Mostly Highish

This was my absolute favorite of all the Narnia books.  Probably because it's got ships in it, and even if the Dawn Treader isn't a spaceship, she's still a very noble ship with a noble crew.  Plus Reepicheep is bumped up to a starring role in it.  When I was a child, I had just gotten a stuffed mouse in a sailor suit, which I had given the creative name of Mousey or something similar, and within a day or two of my mother reading this book to my sister and me I decided to change his name to Reepicheep.  Reepicheep is my favorite character in all the Narnia books, which is another reason why I loved this book so much.

And having seen all three Narnia films to date, I have to say this is my favorite Narnia film as well.

First and foremost, I felt the films for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian felt way too long.  All the Narnia books are relatively short books, at least when compared to Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter series, and after having seen the first two Narnia films I felt they were a little dragged out.  But not Voyage of the Dawn Treader; for the first time, I felt like a Narnia movie was perfectly paced.  It helps that Voyage of the Dawn Treader is structured differently; as the ship reaches each new island we're presented with a new smaller adventure, with each one contributing another piece to the overall arc.  It's probably another part of why this is my favorite story, as well; it's a story of exploration instead of battle.  Consequently, I think not needing to take time out to portray giant armies doing battle is one of the things that helps improve the pacing of this story as a movie.

Reepicheep looks and acts great, and reminds me why he became my favorite character to begin with.  But I have to admit, I feel Eddie Izzard was a more fitting voice for him than Simon Pegg.  Not that Pegg delivers a bad performance in any way; his delivery is fantastic.  For me, it's just that his voice is a little too deep.  Eddie Izzard manages to have a voice that's both masculine and yet, well... kind of squeeky.  He was perfect for a heroic talking mouse.  And while Simon Pegg is very good, he's just not as... well, perfect.  But that's just a nitpick; Reepicheep is handled wonderfully in this film, and it does justice to my imagination.

Eustace also works really well, which really surprised me.  In most media, the character who's the complainer is usually annoying, and of course that's the way Eustace is intended to be portrayed; however, he completely and utterly fails to dampen anyone's spirits in the slightest, which makes his whining become more comical than annoying.  And Eustace the dragon is portrayed wonderfully, as you can clearly see the emotions playing out on his dragon face as he learns his lessons to become a better person.

Rich told me that he's heard people feel this one is getting more heavy handed in the Christian allegory.  Personally I disagree; how can you get any more blatant about it than Aslan dying for Edmund's sins in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe?  I guess because Aslan breaks down the allegory by telling Edmund and Lucy "In your world, you know me by another name."  Either way, remember the source material here folks; C.S. Lewis was a Christian writer.  The themes are going to be in there, because that's why he wrote the stories in the first place.  Just as Aslan tells Edmund and Lucy "I brought you here so you could know me there," C.S. Lewis is taking the reader to Narnia so we can understand Christian beliefs and philosophies and get to know God here.  And as Rich said to me after the movie ended, look at the morals this story is conveying-- love yourself for who you are, because we are all made beautiful; and don't be greedy, or it will make you ugly.  And really, Christian or not, who can disagree with that?

Oh, I should probably comment on the 3D effects.  I barely noticed them.  Unlike Tron: Legacy, where the 3D was so amazing I literally flinched at least twice when something flew off the screen at me.  So if you want my opinion, you don't need to see this movie in 3D.  (But you definitely should see Tron: Legacy in 3D.)

But please, if you have any interest in the Narnia movies at all, please do go see it.  This movie isn't doing very well; from what I've heard, it's made half of what Prince Caspian made on its opening weekend, which is half of what The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe made on its opening weekend.  The Narnia films have already had to switch movie studios due to the low returns on Prince Caspian, so I don't have a lot of hope that they'll continue after this one if it continues to do poorly.  (Although there is a ray of hope-- Rich tells me this is doing very well over seas.)

And after this movie, I'd really like to see how they handle The Magician's Nephew, which is my second favorite Narnia book!

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