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Chronicles of Narnia Sets Sail in 3D with 'Voyage of the Dawn Treader'

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Catholic Online highly recommends this film, based on C.S. Lewis' third book and premiering Friday on the Big Screen

Published in 1952, "The Voyage of The Dawn Treader," is the third of C.S. Lewis' seven-book "The Chronicles of Narnia" series.  The story takes place about three Narnian years after the preceding novel, "Prince Caspian." The movie, which remains quite faithful to the book, will be a hit with Lewis fans, young and old and is highly recommended.

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By Randy Sly
Catholic Online (
12/11/2010 (9 years ago)

Published in Movies

Keywords: review, movie, c.s. lewis, chronicles of narnia, voyage of the dawn treader, douglas gresham

WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - This holiday season we've been given an invitation for a voyage on the fantastic Narnian ship, the Dawn Treader. This is not a pleasure cruise but an opportunity to join in an adventure, this time in 3D.

"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," based on C.S. Lewis' book by the same name, premiers in theaters on Friday, December 10 and is a more than worthy successor to the first two films in the Narnia series.

It is wartime England, around 1943, and an older Lucy and a wiser Edmund make this journey into Narnia without their two older siblings. They are joined, however, by their bratty obnoxious cousin, Eustace Clarence Scrubb, who is as annoying as his name.

The three are swallowed into a painting and end up adrift in the sea and quickly rescued by crew members of the Dawn Treader. Once aboard, Lucy and Edmund find themselves reunited with King Caspian and Reepicheep, a gallant Knight of a mouse.

They have been called back to Narnia to join in a mission that holds the fate of Narnia in its outcome. At the same time, the voyagers must overcome their own greatest temptations and put up with the antics as well as attitude of Narnia's newest arrival, Eustace.

The Dawn Treader will take these faithful warriors to five mysterious islands, each with its own unique occupants and secrets. Along the way, they will meet magical creatures like Dufflepuds, and a wise old magician, Coriakin, as they search for the seven swords of the sever lost Lords of Telmar. There are also sinister enemies along the way and an evil green mist. They will also again find their friend and protector, the "Great Lion" Aslan.

As with the first two movies, the moral message is very clear. This voyage includes several tests in confronting one's fears, temptations and pride. The message of the Christian faith is also prominent. Toward the end of the movie, in fact, Aslan tells Lucy that she will know him in the real world by another name.

For Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie and Skandar Keynes as Edmund Pevensie, this is their third and last time Alsan will allow them in Narnia. Their characters in Voyage are much more grown up and wiser for their years and adventures.

The two actors had their work cut out for them. They needed to express this maturity while still showing hints of the youthfulness we remember from the first two films.

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Ben Barnes returns as Caspian, once a prince and now a King. Again, age and maturity are exhibited by this still youthful King while his competitive spirit isn't completely tamed. In this film Barnes seems much more confident in his skin as well as in his role, especially since he was allowed to ditch his awkward "Prince Caspian" accent for this film.

London-based teenager Will Poulter was a brilliant casting decision and a bright star of the film as Eustace Clarence Scrubb, the cousin you just love to hate. His handling of Eustace's gradual transformation from loathsome to loveable was delightful to watch. I look forward to seeing more of him!

The original "mousketeer" of Narnia, Reepicheep (the voice of British comic actor Simon Pegg replacing Eddie Izzard), who was a great hero from "Prince Caspian," equally endears himself in Voyage, where he takes a very prominent role and is subsequently rewarded.

Liam Neeson's characterization of the Great Lion remains consistent with that of the two previous movies and you either love it or hate it. I enjoy it. Perhaps one could argue for a little more attitude or life in his voice, but I have come to expect Aslan to respond in the same way no matter his circumstance, as a Christ-figure is expected to do.

During this Voyage, the audience will also be introduced to a number of new and interesting characters during the five-island tour including a wise old magician named Coriakin, played by Australian-born actor Bille Brown.

None, however, are more interesting than the Dufflepuds, strange dwarves with one leg and one giant foot, who make an all too brief appearance to really get to know them as well as one would want.

"Voyage" also includes a brief cameo by the White Witch (Tilda Swinton) who comes to hassle the now older Edmund, once again.

There are times in the film where it felt that details from the story were either ignored or removed, which left some holes in the development of characters and plot.

No longer limited to the forests and fortresses of "Prince Caspian," "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" has given the film's creative team an opportunity to offer some spectacular computer-generated scenes and a variety of visual moods as the ship travels from island to island.

The ensemble work by Dante Spinotti, Director of Photography; Barry Robison, Production Designer; Rick Shane, Film Editor; Isis Mussenden, Costume Designer; Angus Bickerton, Visual Effects Supervisor; prosthetics makeup artist Howard Berger along with all the Computer Graphics artists and Dawn Treader craftsmen, created a colorful world for this great adventure.

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As Douglas Gresham said in a recent interview, his stepfather was frightened by the idea of someone making a film of his stories. Sixty years later, through incredible technology and craftsmanship, that fear is no longer necessary.

For Voyage, Walden Media and their new partner, Twentieth Century Fox, turned to the same writers, Stephen McFeely and Christopher Markus, who wrote the first two screenplays to bring this adventure to life. Fellow screenwriter Michael Petroni was added for this third installment.

Andrew Adamson returns to the land of Narnia again after directing the first two "The Chronicles of Narnia," this time as a producer along with Mark Johnson and Philip Steuer, who produced the first two films as well.

Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis, who was a producer for the first two films, serves as Executive Producer along with Perry Moore who was instrumental in bringing the Narnia series to Walden Media.

Filmmaker Michael Apted is at the helm for this voyage. The award-winning director in film and television many credits both here and in Britain. His most familiar works include the James Bond film "The World Is Not Enough," as well as the award-winning hits "Gorillas in the Mist" and "Coal Miner's Daughter."

With Disney stepping back after Prince Caspian, many wondered whether Voyage would even be made. Only time - and box office - will tell whether the new partnership of Walden Media with 20th Century Fox continues with "The Silver Chair."

As I said at the beginning of the review, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is more than a worthy successor to the first two films. With spectacular scenics and dependable performances, I believe you will enjoy the voyage.

My only caution concerning this film is for the young. While a family film, parents will find that there are a few scenes, including one extended battle scene, which may be too scary or violent for small children. I would suggest previewing the film to determine suitability for your younger ones.


Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online ( He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.


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