Monday, December 27, 2010


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader  (20th Century Fox, 2010)

Before the Cameras:

Georgie Henley  (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian)
Skandar Keynes  (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
Ben Barnes  (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian)
Will Poulter  (Son of Rambow)
Gary Sweet  (Bitter & Twisted)
Bruce Spence  (The Road Warrior)
Tilda Swinton  (Vanilla Sky)
Anna Popplewell  (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe)
William Moseley  (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian)
Simon Pegg (Shaun of the Dead)
as the voice of Reepicheep
Liam Neeson (Taken)
as the voice of Aslan

Behind the Cameras:
Directed by Michael Apted

Produced by Andrew Adamson, Douglas Gresham, Mark Johnson, Cort Kristensen, Jose Ludlow, Perry Moore, and Philip Steuer

Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, and Michael Petroni

Two years after the second Chronicle of Narnia was released, here comes number three, and despite a lack of numbers in the actual title (which does feature a fair amount of words) the movie jumps on two 3-D bandwagons - the new one that has almost any movie with three exterior scenes upconverting from flat in postproduction - and the old one that says that movie part 3s always work better with '-D' after...like Jaws 3-D and Amityville 3-D...
    The story picks up with the younger Pevensie children Edmund (Keynes) and Lucy (Henley) back on Earth during World War II, now living with their wretched cousin Eustace Scrubb (Poulter) and his family far from the war zone that London became at that time. It's not a happy time for Ed and Luce, away from the wondrous land of Narnia, separated from their siblings Peter and Susan (off in America with their father), living through a war, and having to put up with an absolute turd of a cousin. A conversation in front of a particular painting upstairs in the Scrubb home reveals that the magic of Narnia has not finished for the young Pevensie kids, and soon all three youngins find themselves back in that fantasy land, accompanying their old pals Prince Caspian (Barnes) and Reepicheep the valiant mouse (Pegg, replacing Eddie Izzard) on a sea voyage to... adventure!

Reepicheep shows Eustace the ropes.
     I read the Narnia books as a kid, not recognizing then (as symbolism was never my strong suit) the parallels to the Christian religion built into the framework of the stories by C.S. Lewis. I have re-read the books in the years since, and like how they can be taken as simple fantasy adventure stories, or could springboard a reader into a deeper examination of religion through literature.
    I saw the first Narnia film in the theaters, and enjoyed it. It felt like the perfect alternative to the Lord of the Rings movies for younger viewers who might find Peter Jackson's trilogy a bit violent, or story heavy at their tender age. These films feature much the same kind of fantasy and magic and battle scenes, but the scary bits are a little less scary and don't last too long, and the violence is less violent. (One of Lewis's best writing traits for these books in my opinion - he lets the characters get into trouble, but where most authors would string that out for the whole book, leaving a main character in the hands of the villain, for example, or having two of the leads get into a verbal row and part angrily from each other - within a few pages of Lewis's writing that crisis will be wrapped up and we'll be on to the next adventure. Another author who's pretty good at this is L. Frank Baum. Let kids discover the nerve-wracking longer suspense and drama as they continue reading more adult fare later on.) I skipped the movie Prince Caspian at the time it was released, but managed to make it out to the theater for the third entry in the series at the behest of my niece Sandra, one of my regular movie pals these days.
    I enjoyed the movie, happily finding the leads all returning (though -*spoiler alert-* the older kids have now "outgrown" Narnia and only appear in fleeting cameos here.) The kids have grown as actors, and it's fun to see them slip effortlessly into their heroic personas when they find themselves back in Narnia. New face Eustace takes over Edmund's position as rotten little kid with this outing, and Poulter does a fine job being insufferable in the early reels. There's no clear cut humanoid villain here, (although Swinton does pop up briefly as The White Witch again) but there's a succession of monsters that are pretty satisfying adversaries, culminating in an epic and terrifically realized battle with a truly icky sea serpenty wormy thing for the climax. Of course, Aslan pops up and speaks with Liam Neeson's voice at its most velvety, and Pegg turns in a valiant and funny performance as CGI mouse Reepicheep, who turned out to be my favorite character in the flick.
    Director Michael Apted (my old buddy - once told me I made the best cup of tea he'd ever had - and he's British!) handles his duties well, letting the kids shoulder the heroics and keeping the side characters for the lighter moments, with just the right switches in tone to a few heart-tugging moments here and there. The actors all do well, annd how great is it to see The Road Warrior's Gyro Captain (Spence) here, though he's a mite less recognizable nearly thirty years hence...
    Although it was upconverted to 3-D after the fact, it's pretty good 3-D, still not in the realm of the flicks shot native in the format with 3-D cameras, but better here than some of the recently upconverted flicks. Strangely it seems like it might have been changed over in film order, and they might have gotten a little rushed as the wrap up sequences suddenly start having issues where the actors' faces start to look like they're from an old Viewmaster reel, with their features on different planes of existence and held together by somebody's sheer willpower. But that doesn't occur until the final few minutes of the movie, so it doesn't mar the flick. If you like good fantasy flicks, and don't mind a little message in the ravioli, then this is a safe bet for the entire family. All others need not apply.

Let's Get Out of Here ?

At roughly the hour mark, Georgie Henley is tired of refereeing the pissing contest between Edmund and Caspian and wants to head out forthwith.

Eye Candy ?

Sadly, the lead actresses are far too young to qualify, and although Tilda Swinton has a striking look about her, she's only onscreen briefly and through the magic of CGI, so no dice. Sorry, ladies.

Bling Monkey's Capsule Review

Bling Monkey says "Although I always pictured Aslan as a
Rhesus monkey, this long titled Narnia flick is pretty good watchin'."

And that will wrap up this entry as we enter the homestretch of 2010...til next time, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

1 comment:

  1. Reepicheep is my fave too! I didn't get the same feeling from this 3d that I did from Piranha so I'm saying that whatever is done to change it was done much better.