The third big-budget adaptation of a Narnia novel features excellent special effects, and very little else that rises above the mediocre.

Title:

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Directed by Michael Apted
Written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Michael Patroni, from the novel by C.S. Lewis.

Cast

Georgie Henley as Lucy Pevensie
Skandar Keynes as Edmund Pevensie
Will Poulter as Eustache Scrubb
Ben Barnes as Caspian
Simon Pegg as Reepicheep (voice)
Liam Neeson as Aslan (voice)
Tilda Swinton as White Witch

Full Cast and Crew information is here.

Premise:

The youngest Pevensie children and their loathsome, self-centered cousin, Eustache, find themselves drawn to Narnia where they join Prince Caspian’s quest to locate seven missing lords with seven missing swords that must be placed, for no adequately developed reason, at Aslan’s table.

High Points:

The film boasts spectacular visual effects, strong CGI, and impressive three-dimensional work. The F/X work may not be perfect, but it’s as good as anything out there, and the results suit the source material.

The sea serpent succeeds at being scary, in a kid-movie sort of way.

Low Points:

I know, and every five-year-old in the audience knows, that Eustache exists so he can develop into a better person. The problem is, he’s barely a human being to begin with. Prior to his transformation, the character more resembles a CGI creation than the film’s many CGI creations, a one-note whiner who exists to cause trouble. Given these characteristics, why do they take him along when the go ashore? Then again, why do they do anything in this film?

I can make some allowances because I’m watching a children’s movie, but we should still see characters with comprehensible motivations. Experienced soldiers and adventurers decide to camp on an island which they believe might be a trap, without posting guards? When they have a ship anchored nearby that can be better-protected? Conflicts, meanwhile, come and go, because the characters behave as the story requires them. None of it seems rooted in anything save fulfilling the demands of the plot.

The Scores:

Originality: 2/6 Of the three films, Dawn Treaders sails furthest from its source material. The resulting episodic mess recalls the videogames that have long since raided the same mythic sources as Lewis.

Effects: 6/6 See “High Points.”

Story: 3/6 The story plods from one arbitrary and artificial crisis to the next, with little storytelling grace. The script forces conflicts and resolutions in a manner that makes this the least enjoyable of the recent Narnia films.

Acting: 5/6 The actors do the best they can with barely-developed characters.

Production: 6/6

Emotional Response: 3/6 Looks pretty; induces sleep.

Overall: 4/6

In total, The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader receives 29/42.