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Movie review: Narnia sequel “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” finds exotic island adventure

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*** STAR REVIEW | Fantasy

From their outset in 2005, the big- screen versions of C.S. Lewis’ “The Chronicles of Narnia” novels have had a particularly winning champion in the character of Lucy Pevensie.

Vividly portrayed by Georgie Henley, Lucy has embodied the franchise’s best qualities: its openheartedness, its loving grasp of the sibling bond, its celebration of things that exist beyond the real. Even Aslan, the golden- maned lion king and Christ-like figure of the Christian-based fantasy adventure, says as much.

After all, the sweetest of four siblings sent to the English countryside when World War II breaks out was the first to discover in a wardrobe the portal to the magical if besieged kingdom of Narnia.

In “The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader” — the third installment — Lucy is once again the heart of the tale, struggling for the first time with some less-than-charitable emotions.

Not quite a must-see, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” directed by Michael Apted, is nonetheless a sturdy outing with many of the charms that have become franchise trademarks: fabulously talkative animals and wisecracking mythical creatures, brewing sibling rivalries and deeper familial bonds.

Granted, “Harry Potter” has raised the bar very high for the genre. Though, a newcomer won’t be half as lost on this latest trip to Narnia as a newbie to the “Potter” world of wizards and muggles.

This time, the passageway from England to Narnia hangs in the home of the uninterested uncle Lucy and Edmund live with. In a nice bit of 3-D- special-effects wizardry, the painting of a ship on the high seas floods the bedroom as Lucy, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and their incredulous cousin Eustace watch, then swim for their lives.

Susan and Peter Pevensie have gone to America. And the teenagers and their able portrayers, Anna Popplewell and William Moseley, don’t much figure in this sequel.

Instead, Lucy and Edmund reunite with the titular hero of 2008’s “Prince Caspian,” portrayed by a returning Ben Barnes, for an adventure that sets them on a course for a malevolent island.

Old allies appear. So do veteran enemies. Tilda Swinton makes a couple of visits as the White Witch. Simon Pegg provides the new voice and ongoing can-do attitude of swashbuckling mouse Reepicheep.

For much of the movie, the name Eustace can be rhymed with useless. Freckled Will Poulter portrays the Pevensie’s perfectly aggravating cousin.

We mean that in the nicest way possible. Because, like its predecessors, this sequel depicts and lauds transformation. Children become heroes. A modest mouse outdoes the best noblemen. And a complaining lad becomes an expressive and righteous dragon.

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“THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: VOYAGE of THE DAWN TREADER.”

PG for some frightening images and sequences of fantasy action. 1 hour, 58 minutes. Directed by Michael Apted; written by Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely and Michael Petroni; from the book by C.S. Lewis; photography by Dante Spinotti; starring Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Tilda Swinton, William Moseley, voices of Liam Neeson and Simon Pegg. Opened Friday at area theaters.

-Lisa Kennedy

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Comments
  • comment avatar PerplexedAndSaddened December 11, 2010

    hooray!!! love all seven books… and hope that these movies inspire children to read the Chronicles of Narnia. (adult children too 😉 )

    While movies are wonderful candy… the books are truly a feast.

  • comment avatar MikeC December 11, 2010

    Read an article that Liam Neeson, who does the voice for Aslan the Lion, claimed that Aslan is not a Christian-based character and actually represents many religions – like Islam. C.S. Lewis is probably turning over in his grave. Aslan represents Jesus Christ and his voluntary death is exactly parallel to Jesus Christ being crucified on the cross. C.S. Lewis was a Christian through-and-through and his works reflect his Christian view of the world and no other. To demean them and turn them into politically correct stories to fit our time is simply absurd, stupid, and ignorant of who C.S. Lewis was.
    It would appear that Mr. Neeson has been heavily influenced by his mother-in-law Vanessa Redgrave who is an ardent supporter of the Palestinians and other Muslim causes.

  • comment avatar PerplexedAndSaddened December 11, 2010

    If you are interested.. you might really enjoy “Jack”
    C.S. Lewis states that Aslan wasn’t intended to be allegorical for any religious figure… but his upbringing and personal beliefs certainly affected his portrayal of Aslan, thus the comparisons to Jesus.

    I don’t think he would be turning in his grave… I think he would be happy people were reading his books. 🙂

    btw: screwtape letters is a much better theological musing… and quite entertaining too… for the older crowd.

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