The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Another year, another entry in a cherished children’s series becomes an antiseptic light show, loaded with impressive special effects but woefully short on personality. The protean Apted, new to the series, certainly has ample ingredients for a common swashbuckler, including a dragon, a book of incantations, lost wise men, swordfights, slave trading in what might as well be Judea, a feast in what looks Middle Earth and a gaggle of invisible little persons, not to mention a snotty cousin (Poulter) who keeps wandering off without supervision. If it sounds disjointed, it is, inventing new rules to aid every scene transition while still failing to provide a clear sense of what anyone is after. Dawn Treader proves it’s possible to be faithful to C.S. Lewis and still make Lewis seem like a free-associating loon. When on the Dark Island, Edmund is warned not to think about the thing he fears most, lest it appear, you half-expect the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
There’s somewhat more interest in Henley’s Lucy, confronted with her jealousy over Susan’s beauty in an all-too-brief ’30s interlude, and Simon Pegg’s vocal turn as Reepicheep, the noble mouse swordsman formerly voiced by Eddie Izzard. Lots of digital parries, swinging ropes, topiary sculptures and green mists are aimed at the lens; the 3-D is okayish. Still, it’s a serious problem in a Narnia movie when the most engaging scenes are in plain-old England.