C. S. Lewis’s third Narnia book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, opens with one of the bitchiest lines in kid lit: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb and he almost deserved it.” The only way Lewis fans deserve this movie is if they’ve been very naughty. That’s not to say the latest chapter is a total disaster. It’s just not as thrilling, or memorable, as it should be.
Dawn Treader takes place on the high seas and in 3-D, so pack the Dramamine. Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes) ditch their older siblings for their grumpy cousin, and the trio lands on the ship of King Caspian (the hunky, bland Ben Barnes). He wants to find a mystical country at the end of the world, but before they do that, they must revisit other hit movie franchises. The swords glow like Star Wars sabers, the water creatures are right out of Clash of the Titans, there are lords (like a certain Tolkien trilogy), and forgotten spells and dragons à la Harry Potter. The final scene, on a beach with heavy religious undertones, is Lost—with a talking lion.
It’s hard to blame the movie for stealing—after all, Lewis had these ideas long before Rowling, Lucas, et al. But Dawn Treader still feels derivative, and the characters are too dry (despite all those waves). The first Narnia film was delightful thanks to Tilda Swinton’s White Witch. If we have to go back, she should be our tour guide.
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