My family and I went to see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (VOTDT) in the cinema on Christmas Day and I was quite surprised at how many people had been out for the afternoon showing. The showing we went to was not quite as full and we were able to pick the perfect seats.
I'll try not to give away too many spoilers just in case there's anyone who hasn't seen the film yet. For simplicity's sake (and so I don't get carried away) I'm going to divide this review up a bit into my first impressions, the good, the bad, and my final recommendations.
My First Impressions: I was very excited about going to see VOTDT and I was not disappointed. This was a fun and clean film that I enjoyed watching with my family. Lots of humor, great story, interesting adventure and a sweet ending.
The Good: These are all things that I really enjoyed and some which exceeded my expectations.
- The Dawn Treader & Scenery - I had seen pictures and clips of the title ship but on the big screen it was certainly impressive! It was lovely to see various scenes shot on the Dawn Treader, it was perfect! Other scenery, though not exactly as I imagined, was very lovely. I particularly liked the Dufflepuds and their island, and the sea of lilies.
- Lucy - despite my own thoughts that Georgie Henley has been too old for this role since Prince Caspian, her acting in VOTDT really surpassed her performances in the other films and she really came into her own. It was a delight to watch her on screen as her character learned and proved that she is beautiful in her own way.
- Eustace - Eustace Clarence Scrubb is my favorite Narnia character of all time and after hearing one friend's comments I was in high hopes that the character would be well represented. From the first moment that Will Poulter appeared on screen as Eustace he exceeded my expectations in every way! His voice, manner of talking, appearance, costumes and acting were all excellent! He just made the film wonderful for me and I would be so happy if they were do adapt my favorite The Silver Chair and cast him as Eustace again! And I know his freckly face will always appear whenever I read the last three Narnia books!
- Reepicheep - Dear brave Reepicheep is another of my favorite Narnian characters and after enjoying his appearance in Prince Caspian I really looked forward to his appearance in this film and I was not disappointed! I didn't even notice the change in actors who voiced the mouse. Everthing from his sword, to his bravery, to the feather in his circlet made me just want to read out and hug him as Lucy does!
- Dragon - In seeing what marvels Weta Workshops had produced in the other Narnia films I really looked forward to seeing the dragon who is Eustace. This Eustace dragon was perfectly majestic yet awkward and beautiful at the same time. I particularly liked the dragon's eyes so like Eustace's yet different.
- Aslan - Although I still do not altogether like actor Liam Neeson's voicing of Aslan (or his comments about Aslan in a recent interview) I very much appreciate the great amount of truth that was preserved from C.S. Lewis's book and represented in VOTDT. Particularly in Eustace's recounting of his change from dragon back to boy and in Aslan's last words to the children we find words quoted straight from the book and the spiritual application can be made as readily as if you were reading it yourself! There are also lessons to be learned from the plot changes themselves which are needed in our world today.
The Bad: These are things that I really didn't like and that didn't meet my expectations.
- Plot Changes - I have mentioned plot changes above and must say a little about them here. Before I went to watch this film I made a point of re-reading the book so I had it's story firmly set in my mind. I had hear there were some plot changes but I must confess to being very disappointed by the numerous changes I saw on screen. There is a major plot addition that the filmmakers must have thought necessary to keep the travels of the Dawn Treader interesting. It seems that it was not enough for the travelers to look for the eight Narnian lords, they must also fight evil at every turn. The power and enticement of evil seemed a little redundant to me, and it often seemed like the characters (especially Edmund) were struggling with temptations they had already dealt with in the previous films.
- Islands - There were several changes in the way the adventures took place on the islands Caspian and the others visited. There were several scenes that I just loved the way they happened in the book so to see them changed seemed unnecessary and were definitely disappointing.
- Aslan's Country - I do want to mention one thing with a spoiler below so if you'll forgive me a minute.*Spoiler Warning* One bit at the end that particularly bugged me was when Caspian sails with the children and Reepicheep right to the End of the World and they are all given the option to enter Aslan's country if they wish. I very much dislike this because I'm sure C.S. Lewis meant Aslan's Country to represent heaven. In this world it is not for us to decide when and how we make our exit and enter God's heaven. God's Word clearly says that we can only come to Him by faith in Jesus Christ and that God Himself chooses the hour when we have served our purpose on earth and He call us home to Him. In the book Caspian has so much to live for in Narnia that although Aslan's country sounds nice he is not given the option to go until his time of service is completed, so I hated when they changed that. I also wish they had included the lamb in this final scene but I guess that was too much to ask for! *Spoilers Ended*
My Final Recommendations: So after all of that I want to say that for any lover of Narnia The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a must see! This is a beautiful film! There are so many lovely moments that outweigh the bad (aka changes made) that it is definitely not to be missed. If you possibly can go to see it in theaters! I saw it in 3-D and it was pretty neat but if you can't do 3-D it's still going to be just as magical. Also may I recommend that you go to see the film before you read or re-read the book. Having read the book did dampen my enjoyment of the film but I do so highly recommend that you read and re-read all of the Narnia books!
An added blessing my family and I received when going to see this film was that there was a lady in the theater that was passing out free Narnia memorabilia! Miss Bea and I were so excited to take t-shirts from her and the rest of my family got lovely notebooks and sillybands (in the shape or Narnia characters!). I never thought about owning a t-shirt with Aslan on it but now that I do I wear it with pride! So much fun!
So...discuss away! I really want to hear your thoughts!
Have you seen VOTDT? What were your thoughts? Have you read the book? Which is your favorite Narnia book or film? Who is your favorite Narnia character?
Very Truly Your's,