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Chronicles of Narnia, The: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (PG)

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Review byMatthew Turner9/12/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 115 mins

Enjoyable children's adventure enlivened by strong performances, solid direction and some impressive effects work, but there are some dodgy 3D moments, the pacing is erratic and the film almost scuppers its exciting finale with its clumsy handling of the religious overtones.

What's it all about?
Directed by Michael Apted, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the third instalment in the Narnia series, based on the books by C.S. Lewis. Set during World War II, the film begins when Edmund (Skandar Keynes), Lucy (Georgie Henley) and their obnoxious cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) are drawn into Narnia via a seascape painting that comes to life and floods their bedroom.

Swimming to the surface, the children are hauled aboard the Dawn Treader, which Edmund and Lucy are delighted to discover is captained by their old friend Prince (now King) Caspian (Ben Barnes) and his first mate, swashbuckling mouse Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg). Despite Eustace's constant protests, Edmund and Lucy agree to help Caspian on his quest to rid Narnia of a mysterious curse involving a nasty green mist.

The Good
A change of director and a change of studio seem to have given the Narnia franchise a welcome boost. Apted proves a reliable pair of hands and duly delivers the required ingredients of swashbuckling thrills and mythical creatures, heightened by some vastly improved special effects work, particularly during the genuinely exciting, action-packed climax.

The performances have improved too, particularly Barnes, who seems to have relaxed into the part since the second film and is now effortlessly charming where before he was wooden and dull. Will Poulter makes a welcome addition to the cast and almost steals the film as Eustace, while there's strong work from Henley and colourful support from Pegg and Tamati Rangi as the cockney Minotaur.

The Bad
For the most part, the effects are excellent, but there are a handful dodgy 3D post-production scenes early on that are extremely distracting because you then spend every scene worrying whether the 3D is up to scratch. On top of that, Liam Neeson seems to be phoning in his performance as Aslan and never really connects with the characters, and consequently, the film comes to a crashing halt whenever he appears.

In addition, the erratic pacing drags in some places and skips forward too fast in others, and the script goes overboard with the heavy-handed religious metaphors, rendering the finale clunky and embarrassing instead of emotionally moving.

Worth seeing?
With strong performances, assured direction and impressive effects work Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the best Narnia film so far. Worth seeing.

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Chronicles of Narnia, The: Voyage of the Dawn Treader (PG)
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Content updated: 21/01/2019 00:27

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