I’m not really sure what it is about The Chronicles of Narnia movies that I find so unengaging. The Lord of the Rings films suffered under the same onus of trying to get viewers unfamiliar with the source novels to care about Bilbo Baggins and his adventures and director Peter Jackson succeeded handsomely in doing that. The same cannot be said for this series. The box office take for the first two entries was so tepid that Walden Media abandoned the idea of filming the entire series. Now that 20th Century-Fox has picked up the reins and with their version of the third novel in the set, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the result is about the same. Though handsomely executed by cinema vet Michael Apted, this feature is pitched directly towards aficionados of the C.S. Lewis novels who will surely be please by the result.
As for the rest of us, this adventure of the Pevensie brood is a rather dull one, filled with one blurred sword fight after another, a sea voyage plagued by sea serpents, the pesky White Witch (Tilda Swinton) and the return of the lion Aslan (voice by Liam Neeson) to impart more Christian-laden wisdom.
While Georgie Henley, Skander Keynes and Ben Barnes are all fine as Lucy, Edmund and Prince Caspian, they bring little gravity to these roles. The kids who love the books will hardly notice, but the actors’ one-dimensional quality makes it hard for the discerning viewer to become engaged in their characters’ quest. Even more troublesome is the lack of urgency to the proceedings. The tone struck here telegraphs that no one’s in any real danger and that everything will be fine.
There’s an innocence to Lewis’ tales that dates them. For those who’ve embraced the novels, these characters and their adventures live on vividly in their imagination. That’s where the “Narnia” tales should exist, because these simple stories are a poor source for compelling cinema.
Contact Chuck Koplinski at email@example.com.