Movie review: ‘Voyage of Dawn Treader’ catches 3D wave
C.S. Lewis’ allegorical “Narnia” adventures on film switch studio kingdoms (from Disney to Fox) for “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” without missing a beat.
Under the steady hand of veteran director Michael Apted (the “7-Up” documentaries, “Coal Miner’s Daughter”), the third film adaptation of a novel from Lewis’ classic children’s fantasy series – an amalgam of Christian themes, Greek and Roman mythology and traditional Irish folktales – still has the power to enthrall younger filmgoers, while perhaps leaving their adult chaperones fidgeting.
As a light counterpoint to the ominous, increasingly ponderous darkness of the recent “Harry Potter” outings, “Dawn Treader” is reliably optimistic and family-friendly. Here, evil is embodied as a creeping emerald mist, heroes and heroines are steadfastly intrepid and good, swordplay is rousing and bloodless, religious allegory is understated and computer-generated effects dominate but don’t overwhelm the human story.
This episode adds 3D to the mix, but it’s used with a subtle touch to draw viewers in to the magical dimensions of Narnia. After a setup that puts Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy Prevensie (Georgie Henley) in monochromatic, World War II-era England, billeted in the drab home of their priggish, know-it-all cousin Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter, dutifully pinch-faced), the story steps briskly into more fabled realms.
In the movie’s best 3D sequence, the cousins are bickering in front of an oil painting of an old sailing vessel on storm-tossed seas when waves violently flood into their bedroom, engulf the youngsters and magically sweep them into the roiling, color-drenched oceans of Narnia.
Quickly, they’re rescued by that great ship, The Dawn Treader, and find themselves caught up in new adventures in the company of dashing King Caspian (Ben Barnes), his swashbuckling warrior mouse, Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg), and a gnarly crew of seafarers.
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