The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Posted by Abz on Mon, 20 Dec 2010.
Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third instalment of the Narnia chronicles that has been given to the big screen – even after almost being scrapped. This time though it is not Andrew Adamson who has delighted our screens but it was directed by Michael Apted. This story sees Edmund and Lucy travelling back to Narnia with their moody cousin Eustace (I’ll tell you more about him later). This time round they team up with Caspian – now the king of Narnia – to find the seven long lost lords of Telmar, who abandoned the old kingdom when Caspian was just a boy, only to discover there is something more sinister afoot.
The ideal for most series is to have the same director through out its entirety to keep the same feel to the film and keep them well rounded as a whole. This film is a perfect example as to why this is desirable.
Whilst the film’s script (written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni, the first two having written Prince Caspian and The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe) keeps it moving forward by using a bit of creative licence to veer away from the book (which happens to be my favourite so far) making it more exciting ensuring that it is just as gripping as the last instalment, one particular new directorial aspect drags the whole film down somewhat. That aspect is Ben Barnes’ character King Caspian.
In Prince Caspian, Adamson had Barnes portray the title role as a Mediterranean character, skin colour and accent included. Now the character is pale and has lost the accent making him seen like a completely different character. Even the character’s personality is different: he’s a lot more mellow than the intense, revenge driven Caspian we saw and fell in love with in the previous film; however this is understandable as he has aged quicker than the Pevensies and is in his thirties I guess, he’s also brought peace to Narnia and matured as a man which inevitably leads to a more rounded character. But him looking and sounding different, even though very well played by Barnes, detracts from the translation from one director to another.
Through doing some nifty research I’ve found the reason for this poor translation: the new director didn’t want to have the other Lords of Narnia to have the Mediterranean accent. Honestly when the only two who have speaking lines are only on screen for about quarter of an hour – a large percentage of that being in a sword fight – I don’t see why Michael Apted didn’t stick with the accent. It’s not like they had many lines or anything. The effect of swapping them all to English accented people wasn’t worth the massive continuity error that distracted throughout the film.
Having complained about Caspian being a mellower character he and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) have a pretty intense argument over an enchanted pond bringing back some of the old Caspian.
Georgie Henley’s character the ever faithful Lucy has matured and strengthened as a person but still has the same caring nature as the Lucy from the previous films, which was pretty well portrayed.
With the lack of magical shots that I expected after using Adamson’s films as a marker for this one (whether that was due to most of the film talking place on a boat or down to a different director) and bad translation of characters due to errors of poor judgement, the films saving grace was the new character Eustace.
Eustace is Lucy and Edmund’s cousin who they live with during war torn Britain and has a reputation of being a spoilt brat and constantly makes fun of Lucy and Edmund for talking about Narnia and being a general pain in the… Anyway he was perfectly portrayed by Will Poulter if it weren’t for this excellent portrayal of this new character I think I would have called the film a complete flop but Poulter brings the character to life in a way that enraptures you and endears you to him ensuring that he is a character that you love to hate.
For anyone who has read the book it is an exciting conversion onto screen in the same way that Prince Caspian was in that although some things are added in and the order of a couple of events is changed slightly you really don’t mind and it makes for a more exciting film. It’s a great family adventure that has just the right amount of humour (mostly brought about by Reepicheep who I kept expecting to sound like Eddie Izzard but instead was voice by Simon Pegg – not as annoying as the Caspian debacle) and darkness and austerity.
Directorial idiocy aside it’s a good adventure film for all the family.