Somehow, I don’t know how, I’ve now seen all three of the Narnia movies without any real enthusiasm to see any of them. And while this third film in the series may not be as surprisingly entertaining as the first movie, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, it’s definitely better than the atrocious sequel, Prince Caspian. That’s not saying much, and I don’t recommend this movie to anybody over 10.
All throughout watching The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I couldn’t stop thinking, "Man, this movie should be awesome." There’s a minotaur on a boat (I’m on a boat!), a dragon, and a nasty-looking sea serpent, but even with all those, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader gets an emphatic thumbs down from me. And the problem with it is the same problem that I’ve had with all of the Narnia pictures; namely, that the people making them refuse to paint them darker and make them more adult. Yes, I know, this isn’t The Lord of the Rings, but it doesn’t have to be that dark. Still, couldn’t it be just a shade darker? I’m not even asking for that much here, people, just tone down the colors a little bit, please. Thank you.
Essentially, though, what’s always bothered me about this series is the fact that it’s stuck to its colorful aesthetic and preachy messages of faith for far too long. And the message of Christianity seriously needs to stop being crammed down my throat. I mean, it’s like they’re not even trying to be covert anymore about this being a religious picture. In one scene, a mouse named Reepicheep tells the youngest member of the Pevensie clan, Lucy, that “We have nothing if not belief.” I mean, jeez! My fiancé and I rolled our eyes at this moment and let out a collective groan. And we’re both church-goin’ Christians! And if you make the Christians groan, that’s pretty bad.
But Christianity and the Narnia films go hand in hand, so that’s not the problem. Just because the films are Christian based, that doesn’t mean they have to be so safe and PG. I never really feared if any of the characters were going to die or not, because if they did, they’d probably just end up in the lion god (Or just plain God, really) Aslan’s Heavenly kingdom. It detracts from the stakes of the film, and it has since the very first picture. Why couldn’t it all just be a bit more dangerous and uncertain like real life is? That, I think, would actually make for a pretty cool Narnia movie -- a film that wasn’t so sure of itself, and which might even question Aslan’s true nature. I’m sure fans of the book would cry out, “But that’s not what the book is like! But that’s not what the book is like!” Well, tough noogies. This isn’t a book, it’s a movie, and sometimes books don’t translate well onto the big screen. I think that’s what happened with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Rant aside, wouldn’t you rather me just tell you what The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is about? Well, I can tell you this: it’s definitely the strangest of the Narnia trilogy. The two youngest Pevensies, Lucy and Edmund, as well as their annoying cousin, Eustace, get sucked into a painting that has the scene of a very Narnian-esque ship floating in it. In one of the more stunning moments of the picture, the painting comes to life and splashes out of its frame until the entire room is filled with the beautiful water. When the three children swim up to the surface, a giant ship is barreling toward them, and you’re now in Narnia. It’s a great moment that leads one to believe that this is going to be a quest with high adventure and thrilling stakes. But then we get Reepicheep and Prince Caspian from the last movie. I’m sure both of these characters are well loved by those who read the novels, but I just find them boring and corny. I was already shaking my head and crossing my arms at this point. They had already lost my attention.
In the movie, the characters have to travel to different islands to acquire these special swords, which is cool in theory. But it’s bogged down by this green mist that can turn people into dragons for some reason and can also make people conjure up sea serpents if they simply imagine them. I’m sure there’s a better explanation for the story, but that’s pretty much how it’s presented in the movie. The main problem, though, is that even with a flimsy story like that, I’m still okay with it as long as it’s exciting. Unfortunately, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is boring as all hell. I fell asleep twice while watching it, and when I woke up, I asked my fiancé what I missed, and she told me, “Nothing worth rewinding.” Well, I did rewind it, and she was right. It was all high seas and adventuring, only without the adventuring. That's really disappointing, because the movie had the potential to be exciting. Again, if you’re 10 (and if you are, you really shouldn’t be on this site), you might like the magic of it all. But if you’ve ever seen Batman drop a man from a height that wouldn’t kill him, but might make it so that he can never walk again, then this film will bore you to tears with its play-it-safeness. Save your money for The Hobbit, whenever the hell that’s coming out.
Okay, so I totally just went to town on the movie, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate this very special package that comes with a Blu-Ray disc, a DVD, and a digital copy. The movie itself on Blu-Ray, even though it’s too damn bright for its own good, does look quite nice on a big TV screen. The picture quality is stunning. You also get a butt-load of special features. I mean, the packaging alone is reason enough to pick it up.
Each special feature is presented on a different island from the film. On every island, there’s a narrated description of its attributes, as well as descriptions of the characters from the film and other such features that really liven up the disc. One of these features is “The Untold Adventures of the Dawn Treader Animated Short," which beautifully captures the adventures that Caspian went on in-between the last picture and this one. I wonder if these scenes were in one of the books. There’s also “King Caspian’s Guide to The Dawn Treader: Legends and Lore of the Great Ship,” which goes over the different parts of the ship. I’m sure it’s fascinating if you really love the movie. There are four deleted scenes, which actually DO make the film a bit darker, so I wish they had of kept them in. It definitely would have made it more thrilling. There are three behind-the-scenes featurettes, which talk about key moments of the movie, and a game where you have to find swords behind shields. Finally, there’s an audio commentary from the director and a producer. It’s all really great stuff. There’s also a picture book with collectible postcards in the actual box itself. Honestly, even though I don’t endorse you actually watching the movie, I’m all for you buying this disc. It really is quite something.