Sunday, December 12, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Last night I got the chance to watch the new Chronicles of Narnia movie. Let me start by saying that I was a huge fan of the first two movies. Way more so than the books. For the record, I have read the books, but the movies are far superior to the books in so many ways (and this is probably the only book series you'll hear me say this about). Anyway, here's what I thought about Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

When I first read the books by C. S. Lewis it was about a year before the movie release of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I had tried a few years previously (before I accepted fantasy by reading Harry Potter) but just couldn't get in to it. Plus I had them as all separate books and couldn't keep the order I was supposed to read them in straight to save my life. Once the movie was going to be released I had matured in my fantasy reading and finally hunkered down and read the whole series. I enjoyed them all well enough at the time, but they soon faded from memory.

However, I loved the movie releases of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian as I mentioned earlier. I was looking forward to the release of Voyage of the Dawn Treader even though the things I remembered about it from the books were as follows:

  1. I remembered that Peter and Susan weren't in this book, leaving all the hero stuff up to Edmund and Lucy and their cousin Eustace.
  2. I remembered hating Eustace (it occurred to me while watching the movie, his name sounds like 'useless').
  3. I remembered that Ed, Lucy and Eustace returned to Narnia by falling in to the painting of a ship that was hanging on the wall of their room.
Not very much to work with. But I didn't care; the other movies were good so I had hope for Voyage of the Dawn Treader (on a side note; Harry Gregson Williams did an AMAZING job on the music for the first two).

When we got to the theater we were told it was in 3D, which was a bonus since we hadn't been expecting to see it in 3D. So, we bought our tickets, sat down through all the commercials, thoroughly enjoyed the trailers for all the new animated movies coming out, and then the movie started.

While trying to keep 'spoilers' to a minimum, I just have to say that the way the kids went to Narnia this time was far superior visually to how C. S. Lewis told it. The water came rushing out of the painting, the kids struggled to stop it and the room filled up so fast and engulfed them so quickly it was hard to keep up. 

And as the kids got sucked in to Narnia, so did I. Not remembering the books is I plus in this situation, I think, because it's easier to fully appreciate the awesomeness that this movie is. And when you're watching, it's like watching a brand new movie. And what a movie it was! It was exciting, visually stunning, well told and had all the elements that somehow made it even better than the other two Narnia movies. That's at least my stand for now, once they're out on DVD, I'll have a Narnia marathon to re-assess my initial feelings, but it really was amazing.

It was still a funny movie, and a bit silly at points when it got a little Eustace heavy, and yet it felt in some ways like a slightly more mature Narnia movie. I think that was for the best, though, because the kids have quite clearly grown up now but just because it was mature didn't mean it was unaccessible to the younger kids. I wouldn't take a 6 or 7 year old to see it, but I know that even the kids who are 10 years old and up will greatly enjoy it. And even 21 year olds like me will love it. In some ways, it sort of took the best of what Pirates of the Caribbean and Lord of the Rings had to offer and molded it together. At least in terms of cinematic feel, since I'm sure it took the best of the story that C. S. Lewis had to offer and did the only thing it could do: make it better.

As for the 3D aspect of the movie? It didn't really need it, but there were certainly a few times when it was fun to have the 3D effects, especially as the kids are being swallowed up by water, or the spectacular flying shots of the dragon, or even the giant wave at the end of their world. I think seeing it in 2D is still enough to get the full impact of this movie so it shouldn't lose any of its awesomeness when it hits DVD and Blu-Ray.

Overall, if you're looking to really have a fun and exciting time at the movies while watching a "kid's movie" that proves kid's movies can be mature and enjoyable for older people, cough up the money to go see Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The only thing you'll regret is having to leave Narnia when the credits roll.

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