Narnia franchise does a belly flop
tgwsaturday The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader DIRECTOR: Michael Apted CAST: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Liam Neeson, Tilda Swinton RUNNING TIME: 114 minutes
AFTER slipping badly with the second instalment two years ago, the Narnia franchise does a full-on belly flop with this third and, at this rate, one can only hope final, entry in the film series based on CS Lewis’s beloved children’s books.
Perfunctory perfectly describes every aspect of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, from the by-thenumbers script and lacklustre direction to unifor mly uninspired performances.
The lure of 3D no doubt will spike box-office takings in the short term. But Disney saw the writing on the wall and decamped after global grosses dropped, from the first to the second film, from $745 million to $420m, the latter a figure Fox no doubt would be relieved to achieve given the yawny nature of this new journey.
It’s even possible that Lewis purists might be annoyed with this adaptation, given the extensive liberties that have been taken to alleviate the repetitiveness of the odyssey and to provide more excuses for elaborate and varied visual effects.
But to a series convert or not, the single flaw in the storytelling here is that everything that happens seems entirely arbitrary; characters come and go and make decisions for no evident reasons, platitudes rather than credible motivations are provided for behaviour, and no scenes are built up to or developed for more than a moment.
What is arguably the best visual effect comes very near the outset. With their two older siblings, Peter and Susan, having graduated from Narnia duty, Edmund and Lucy Pevensie (Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley) and their bratty pubescent cousin, Eustace (Will Poulter), peer at a painting of the ship and suddenly are inundated with water, which conveys them to their magical world.
Conveniently picked up by Caspian (Ben Barnes, returning from the most recent film), the kids learn that, unlike England, which is in the thick of World War II, Narnia is at peace.
But that state of affairs won’t do for a swashbuckling adventure, so a distant threat is conjured that requires them to visit several islands, gather the seven swords of the missing Lords of Telmar and place them on the lion Aslan’s dinner table so all will not be lost.
As the crew looks for swords on small islands, fights entirely bloodless battles with slave traders, is enveloped by emerald mist on the sea and is warned by a magician about what awaits them on Dark Island, “a place where evil lurks’’ (can you imagine?), Edmund and Caspian man up while Lucy worries about becoming a woman and not being as beautiful as her older sister.
For his part, Eustace, in the film’s other notable visual effect, is transformed into a winged golden dragon.
Just as it’s hard to figure out why Dorothy would want to go back to Kansas after all the fun she’s had in Oz, it’s hard to believe Eustace would rather return to being a snot-nosed kid than fly around breathing fire.
But so be it. – Reuters
ALL AT SEA: Even die-hard fans may be irritated with this latest adaptation of a CS Lewis tale.