Family Movie Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Movie:The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
In Theaters: Dec. 10, 2010
Director: Michael Apted
Runtime: 115 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action
Gecko Rating: 3 Gecko

narnia-dawn-treader-poster-2 One of the things I love most about the ‘Narnia’ movies is hearing Liam Neeson’s voice come out of the majestic Aslan the lion. There’s just something so amusing about hearing that calm voice emanating from the shaggy lion, and I guess that’s one of the subliminal (or not so subliminal) messages of the film. That there’s a higher power watching over everyone and ensuring that karma plays itself out in the right way.

This third story in the franchise inspired by the C.S. Lewis tales finds Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) and her brother Edmund (Skandar Keynes) staying with relatives, including mean-spirited cousin Eustace (Will Poulter in fine British brat form) while older siblings Susan (Anna Popplewell) and Peter (William Moseley) are in the states with their father. Why they’re not all together in the states, I’m not exactly sure.

Things get crazy when a maritime painting springs to life and starts flooding the room, and Lucy, Edmund and Eustace are sucked into Narnia and pulled aboard the royal ship The Dawn Treader. There, they find their old friend Caspian (Ben Barnes) – now a king — and swashbuckling rat Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg), along with a crew of colorful creatures, not all of them human.


Soon enough, the kids are briefed on their situation: evil forces from the mysterious Dark Island are threatening Narnia, and seven magical swords must be found and brought together to break the spell of the island, which is stealing people away from their families.

Of course, the voyage is not without its perils. There are treacherous seas, a mysterious green mist that doesn’t seem friendly, a flying dragon with a twist, and a frightening sea serpent, which surely could have smashed the Dawn Treader to bits in real life. But this isn’t real life, it’s Narnia, so put away any preconceived notions about the realities of the situation.

narnia-dawn-treader-2Well, let’s get right to the point. The evil island is Hell (I’m not sure who the Devil is, in this case – the mist maybe?), and Aslan’s world at the ends of the earth is Heaven, and he himself is God. I guess. Anyway, the very survival of Narnia is held in the hands of these young kids, and they undertake the challenge with a calm confidence.

I could be one of the few people on the planet who hasn’t read the C.S. Lewis books, so everything I know about the story is from the movies. I loved the first one and thought the second one was just ok. This one falls somewhere between the two.

The special effects are fun – again, Liam Neeson’s voice + shaggy Aslan = awesome — but there are some things that had me scratching my head (yes, I KNOW it’s a fantasy). Like why isn’t everyone more freaked out about being sucked into a painting and scooped aboard a ship? Even Eustace gets over the shock in record time, and that’s nothing compared to what happens to him later in the story. Meh, all in a day’s work.


Also, I know it’s semantics, but at the end when everyone parts company, it seems like they all go in the same direction. And Lucy’s delighted exclamations every time she sees someone she knows get a little annoying after a while.

But even with all my complaints, ‘Dawn Treader’ is still a worthy installment of the ‘Narnia’ franchise and an entertaining family movie that actually sticks to a PG rating rather than treading perilously close to a PG-13. It’s available in both 2D and 3D. I saw the 2D version, because I’m never crazy about having to don 3D glasses and wish I was in the theater next door seeing the 2D version. I’m funny that way.

Notes for Parents:

Sex/Nudity: Throughout the movie, Lucy wishes she was beautiful like her sister Susan. In one scene a guiding star manifests itself as a pretty woman, and Edmund and Caspian are both taken with her. In another scene, a couple flirt and embrace, as Lucy watches them.

Violence/Gore. Lots of sword and battle scenes, but no one is killed and no blood is shown. Under an enchantment spell, characters’ worst fears come to life, such as a frightening sea serpent that attacks the Dawn Treader as the crew battles back with swords and arrows. People are held captive and whisked away in boats, and one girl cries as her mother is taken. The White Witch appears in Edmund’s mind. A few characters look dead, but are only in a deep sleep.

Profanity: “Crap,” “Oh God,” and “Shut up,” as well as British insults like “bleedin’,” “thick,” and “sod.”

Drugs/Alcohol: None.

Which Kids Will Like It? Kids 10 and older who liked the first ‘Narnia” movies or fantasy films with lots of interesting creatures.

Will Parents Like It? The sea serpent might be scary for kids younger than 10, but overall, this movie is another fun installment of the “Narnia” series. Not the best movie of the year, but still engaging with great special effects.

Images: Fox-Walden





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