By Shawn Strasburg
At midnight, with cookie dough candy, Coke, popcorn, and movie tickets in hand we set sail on a unique adventure. As an early Christmas present, my wife and I took our kids (eight and ten) to the opening night of Narnia’s Dawn Treader. Even though the film lacked in 3-D effect, had a predictable plot, and lacked in character development, it still entertained with lovable characters, unique situations, and believable creatures.
Almost instantly we were assaulted with annoying cousin Eustace’s voice and actions. His pig like nature and arrogance were played perfectly by actor Will Poulter. Thankfully his grating personality was eclipsed by the characters we have grown to love, Lucy, Edmund, and Reepicheep the lovable rat. They are soon joined by Caspian X, whom is now king of Narnia and embark on yet another mission to save the realm.
The movie was satisfying and I was entertained throughout; yet I must admit the 3-D added little to the enjoyment of the film. In contrast, the trailer for Justin Beiber’s movie, Never Say Never, came to life as it literally spilled into the theatre with 3-D effects. It was unfortunate that we had to pay extra money for uncomfortable, tacky glasses just to see sophomoric 3-D special effects. When I go to a 3-D movie, I expect to be part of the world, not just have slight depth of picture. While it was not the worst use of 3-D filming, it could have been exploited in the leviathan action scene to bring the fight right to our seats, and utilized to bring things such as water, snow, and weapons to the seats in front of us.
The film’s two hour run time only spans a few days time in the land of Narnia. Much of this time was spent aboard the Dawn Treader, and even though it is difficult to create lasting interest in the cramped spaces on a boat, sword fights, vicious storms, evil fog, and a well designed craft kept us from getting sea sick.
The plot was predictable, yet around every corner a unique experience kept our interest peaked. Character development was mediocre, as were some of the “tests” the heroes faced. Intense crisis development of feelings, thoughts, and fears would make for a stronger bond between character and audience, as the movie portrayed it’s “tests” lasting mere seconds. The story line faithfully held to the allegories C.S. Lewis injected into his books and they were easily translatable.
While much in the world of Narnia is computer generated, I could not tell if the green fog, ocean water, fire, and storms were real or CG. The waves and water special effects were first class, developing a world that envelopes you on your voyage in Narnia. Animal and whimsical characters movement and mannerisms were perfected by the team that created the movie. All of this combines and immerses the viewer in a believable world fantasy.
Despite the shortcomings, I would recommend this movie and will purchase it for my home library. It is a well made, child appropriate film with a good message and values. If you have nothing to do this weekend, go out and set sail on the Dawn Treader.