Friday, December 10, 2010

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Let's talk about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, shall we?

Edmund and Lucy Pevensie are summoned one last time to Narnia, but instead of traveling with their older siblings, Peter and Susan, they bring along their younger cousin, Eustace Scrubb (who has, in my opinion, one of the most evocative names I've ever encountered. Describes him to a T). They find themselves reunited with King Caspian on a ship called the Dawn Treader. Caspian, having secured Nania and winning himself some peace, is sailing east to the Lone Islands, searching for seven lords who fled his evil uncle.

As it turns out, all is not well. A great evil is brewing in the eastern oceans, one that threatens to consume all of Narnia. Only Edmund and Lucy and their companions can free Narnia from its grip.

If you've read The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis, you're probably scratching your head about that last paragraph. I certainly was while sitting in the movie theater. I was a little disturbed at some of the liberties that the director took in this movie. The book's story centers around Caspian's quest to find the seven lords simply to find them. Narnia isn't in jeopardy. There's no "big bad" lurking in the shadows, waiting to devour everyone. And yet, even without the high adventure, Lewis's book is a fun read.

The movie is a little . . . off, I suppose you could say. It's a fun ride, that's for sure. It was great to finally see the Dufflepuds brought to life. But the newly tacked on adventure quest didn't mesh with Lewis's original material too well. They tinkered with the plot and added in some stuff that made me roll my eyes (i.e. the three lords at Aslan's Table and when they were restored; way to miss the point).

But what made me smile is what the director kept in. Eustace's journey hews very closely to the book and that was a good thing. Like I said, the Dufflepuds were awesome, even if they were only in there for a brief moment.

But best of all, they kept the line. THE line, the one that helps explain what Narnia is all about. Aslan says it to the children right at the end of the movie and it's so important, I'm going to quote it from the original book:

"I am [in your world too]. But 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."

Given who Aslan represents in Narnia, it's great that they kept that key statement intact and didn't fiddle with it.

So I guess, all in all, this was an okay movie. I worry, though, about future adaptations. If they continue to stray too much, Narnia might become unrecognizable. But for now, it was good to join them on the voyage.


Grace Bridges said...

I actually thought it was pretty good. The trailers had made me fear worse deviations. Okay, so they added in a slightly more specific villain, if one can even call it that. An extrapolated version of the island of dreams, really. It didn't bother me very much, though I agree it didn't mesh ideally.

What I am more annoyed about is how they put the White Witch in the trailers and posters, when in fact her part is virtually non-existent.

Wasn't that sea-serpent something else, though!

Tori said...

Thanks for the review. I've been reluctant to see it because I wasn't sure of the extent of the changes. It's nice to know what level of departure to expect.

I wish they didn't feel like they had to "spice things up".

Rick Copple said...

Just came home from the movie. I can understand your fear on that point, John, about changing things up too much. I expected them to change things up, and what I really feared was adding in another epic drawn out battle. Well, in a way they did have that, but not the traditional armies battling each other as in the last two, and some thought was overdone in Prince Caspian.

Reason being is while those of us who love that book would find it enticing enough, I knew it lacked a clear climatic moment in the book, and an identifiable evil villain as we had in the other two. And my worst fear from seeing the trailers was that they were going to bring the White Witch back in somehow to be the villain. So I was glad her part was very incidental to the whole movie, and not key as the trailers may have led some to believe.

So given my fears, this was less changes than I expected. They hit most of the key points in the book, and like you said, they kept some key lines and thoughts.

Overall I would say a good job, a good movie. Touching at the end. I'm happy with it.