My wife and I were able to view an early screening of the newest Narnia film, “Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” on Monday, November 22, 2010. The viewing was for pastors and ministry professionals. Being a huge fan of the book series and the previous two movies, I had to take this opportunity. While I was excited to see it early, I also felt rushed, because it was my goal to re-read the book before the film debuted on December 10. So, most of my memories of the book come from the one time I read it about seven or eight years ago. I do still plan on reading the book before I watch the movie again.
First of all, I want to thank the Lowes Theater in the Boston Commons for hosting. They did an excellent job, and the cinema was very clean and modern. I hope they continue to host events like this. Also, thanks to Walden Media, Fox, Grace Hill Media, and NarniaFaith.com for making this happen.
This first section contains NO spoilers, so feel free to read freely…
Now, on to the movie. What we watched was what they called a “work-in-progress.” Apparently, there were parts that were not quite 100% completed yet, but I could not tell. Like the previous films, the production value was high. I was a bit leery when I heard that Fox was taking over (Disney had the first two), but those thoughts quickly disappeared. From the beginning to the end, I was drawn right into Narnia with the rest of the cast. The movie kept up the pace, and I never once felt bored. Just like the first two movies, when the end finally came, I did not want to go. I really felt like I was in Narnia for the past two hours.
I think the cast was spot on. Eustace was as annoying as I had pictured him. When reading the book, I remember wanting to smack him, and that is exactly how I felt watching the movie. I think dropping Caspian’s accent was a good move. Also, Reepicheep’s new voice was not entirely different from the past movie, which was a good thing. I felt that an entirely different style would have seemed weird.
From this point on, there are a few SPOILERS. You have been warned. If you want to avoid spoilers, head straight to the last paragraph.
As I stated earlier, I feel the pace moved along quickly. This was primarily a positive thing. However, because I read the book, I remember the length of time spent on the dragon. The process of turning into a dragon and finding out what happened took much longer in the book. Because of this, I was more shocked when I did find out and when it was all resolved. Nonetheless, this was not my first time experiencing this, so the shock-value is already gone. No matter what my personal experience was, the actual process was still done very well.
The addition of finding seven swords does help draw each of the island adventures together, but it does still feel a bit episodic. That is exactly how the book was, but it almost seems like it does not work in movie form. In the end, though, I was pleased with how they added to the narrative in order to draw everything together.
The relationship between Eustace and Reepicheep was great. You can tell that the mouse is taken by the annoying young boy early on, and he begins to take him under his wing, almost as a mentor.
The White Witch does return, but this time, it is only in Edmond’s mind, which is perfect. He even states at one time, “you are dead.” That should clear up any questions about her still being around or not (especially after “Prince Caspian”).
The battle with the sea serpent was quite graphic, and it may scare the little ones. In addition to that, evil was definitely present in this movie…but good definitely wins out on all occasions. Sometimes, Aslan shows up to pull a character back on track, and other times, it is another character who steps up in accountability. This is a great metaphor for how life really is much of the time. Sometimes God pulls us back Himself, and other time, He uses His people.
I was very pleased that they kept most, if not all, Christian elements. Instead of Eustace being the main character dealing with temptation, each of the main characters had their struggle. This will help different people relate with different characters. Also, specific lines were kept from the book that I felt were huge. In the end, Aslan tells Lucy that she needs to get to know him by a different name in her world. The quote is pretty much word-for-word from the book, “There I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.” That is such a huge quote, as I think it is the purpose of the Chronicles, as a whole. I am so glad they kept that and others!
NO more spoilers from this point on…
Overall, I was very pleased with the movie!! I will definitely be seeing it again when it comes out in theaters on December 10. One thing I will close with is that the movie was fantastic in 2D, and I am not sure it would be worth the extra money you might spend for 3D. Plan on bringing out your entire family (except maybe the really young ones) to the theater to see the next magical tale in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia!
For more on the movie, head to www.narnia.com!