The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is an enjoyable fantasy adventure, albeit one that feels very much like a chapter of a series. Those who have not seen the first two films may struggle with the characters, but for most the film is a satisfying episode.
Lucy and Edmund, along with their obnoxious cousin Eustace, return to Narnia for another adventure in the fantasyland. The trio is picked up by the Dawn Treader, the ship of their old friend Caspian. The group attempt to discover what has happened to people sold to slavery, who disappeared into a mysterious green mist…
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is filled with numerous fantasy elements, including dragons, spells and dwarfs. The story follows a straightforward quest narrative, typical of the genre. The film moves with appropriate pace, gliding from action sequences to character developing scenes. The latter are integral to the film; each of the main characters goes through a transition that makes them more mature.
The allusions to Christianity are much more overt in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Edmund, Lucy and Caspian are all tested by temptation, and must overcome in order to complete the quest. Later on, Aslan refers to his own land as heaven in all but name. While The Chronicles of Narnia has always been associated with Christian allegory, it appears far more apparent here than in the previous two films.
Michael Apted directs Voyage of the Dawn Treader with appropriate flair. The action sequences are energetic and enjoyable, while sufficient time is given for the characters to develop within themselves, and in their relationship to one another. Furthermore, Voyage of the Dawn Treader exhibits the type of spectacle expected for a big-budget fantasy film.
Special effects are excellent, with characters such as Reepicheep (the talking and fighting mouse) appearing wholly natural. The dragon, in particular, shows off Voyage of the Dawn Treader‘s aptitude for spectacle. Elsewhere, the presence of magic calls for numerous effects, such as the invisible creatures. All the effects are impressive, giving a beguiling quality to the film.
Dante Spinotti’s cinematography is excellent, especially his lensing of the big sea battles. Colours are bright and charming in Voyage of the Dawn Treader; the ship itself is sumptuously designed. The use of 3D is incredibly subtle, to the point where viewers would lose nothing by opting for a 2D screening.
Performances on the whole are good, with Georgie Henley (Lucy) displaying considerable talent for one so young. Will Poulter is appropriately annoying as newcomer Eustace. Ben Barnes, who reprises his role as Caspian, gives an adequate performance, although the role does not call for much of an emotional range.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a befitting next chapter in The Chronicles of Narnia series. Given that viewers are plunged almost immediately into the action of Narnia, it would be beneficial to have seen the previous two films before embarking on this adventure.