When the simple previews for this movie made me ache with homesickness, I knew it would be good. Always a fairy-tale princess more than a modern girl, I was instantly captured by the Narnia movies. What so intrigued me about Narnia that other fantasy stories did not have, though, was one Lion and his relationship to his people. I truly believe his words to Lucy at the end of the movie, "This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there." I know Christ better through Aslan, through my longing for a more beautiful, more noble world. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader returned me to that world and continued its excellent tradition.
The actors were superb, Eustace being a particularly well-casted part. He went from this obnoxious, namby-pamby, nancy boy to being worthy to be cousin to kings and queens of Narnia. Very rarely can children actors pull off this kind of character turn around but Will Poulter did so perfectly.
Georgie Henley wonderfully reprised her role as Lucy. A pretty girl, she still convinced me that she needed to be beautiful—something I struggle with myself. This movie made me rethink my own thoughts of unworthyness and how God does see me as wonderful and indespensible—the way Aslan showed to Lucy that she was. The entire temptation of Lucy was very well written, acted, and heart wrenchingly close to home.
Skander seemed a little lack-luster. Though I admire him in the first movie, he has lost some gumption and failed to lose that arrogance. In every movie, it seems we have to watch Edmund get over himself again. Admitedly, Skander does play the easily-offended young king very well. I think the Witches appearance for him was far more nerver-wracking than the serpent. I wish they had made his temptation more in her direction, but his fear and his batter with that fear were very well scripted, screened, and acted.
Ben Barnes proved much more likable here than in Prince Caspian and seems to have become a stronger actor, and in that a stronger king. He did drop the Spanish-tinted accent of the Telemarines in favor of the Narnian-sudo-British, a slightly jarring little detail. Still, he commands the screen and the ship beautifully. I would follow this king to the end of the earth as well.
Reepicheep (voiced by Simon Pegg) was a splendid blend of sensitive rodent and warm friend. I especially like how he interacted with Eustace (who did amazingly with the CG work, by the way!). The relationship between the two is so very real and poignant.
Aslan returns, though sparingly, throughout the film, and I teared up every time. This magnificent lion is voiced spot-on by Liam Neeson. Watchful, fierce, merciful, protecting, and very much not tame, he is so much more than I expect every time.
I loved the cameos by Peter and Susan (William Mosely and Anna Popplewell) and the other actors played their parts to perfection. For a long time, I completely forgot that I was not actually on-board the Dawn Treader with real sea-farers.
Costuming was sparce, but it fit with the ocean-bound crew. Lucy did not need a beautiful skirt or Edmund a fancy doublet. The simple tunic, breeches, and sashes worn by everyone unified the crew and made the film more adventurous.
The cinamatography pulled me back to my homeland, per say, as it swooped over sea and island, ship and crew. There were a few more gratuitous shots of the ship than needed and a misplaced warning from a sprite on the way to Ramandu’s island confused me a bit.
The islands themselves were splendid trips into Lewis’s mind. Each had a vivid landscape, interesting characters, and a specific purpose in moving the story forward. The writers did an excellent job of tying the adventures into a continuous ribbon rather than several loosely connected stops, which I felt was an actual improvement on the book.
The story kept many of the spiritual aspects that have been overlooked or cut from previous movies, which pleased me greatly. Reepicheep’s final adventure was filled with meaning and it filled me with longing to be there with him.
This movie creates such a real, poignant world that I cannot wait to return. I long to be there, the poorest peasent even, and I look forward to when I too can move on to Aslan’s country. Narnia lets me live in this fallen world with hope for mankinds potential and joy in the eternal promise awainting me. The Dawn Treader takes me back again. And that is all I can ask from this movie.