Having enjoyed the first two Chronicles of Narnia instalments I must admit that I was very excited to have been invited to the CTBF Royal Film Performance premiere of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Being based on the classic C.S. Lewis novel and with Her Majesty in attendance I think it was safe to assume that it was going to be a fun family affair.
The weather could not have been more appropriate for the premiere either. With the snow falling upon a lavishly kitted out Leicester Square you could be mistaken for believing you were in Narnia itself.
In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) return to Narnia with priggish cousin, Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter), in tow. Once there they join Caspian’s voyage on the royal ship the Dawn Treader on a mission, upon which rests the fate of Narnia, to find the seven lost lords. This perilous journey brings them up against many wonders and dangers and they must face the darkness within as they sail toward Aslan’s country at the end of the world.
As I settled down amongst the suitably kid laden audience, it occurred to me that, to my shame, this was the first film I was about to see in 3D. Albeit shot in 2D and converted post production. When questioned about this the director Michael Apted quite frankly told us that this was the case because at the time, before Avatar had smashed the box office, the jury were still out on the benefits of 3D and that it was also cheaper to shoot in 2D. My experience of it was that although it was quite novel it didn’t really add much to the preceedings… in fact I found it a bit of a distraction.
Based on a C.S. Lewis classic you would expect a wonderful story. Although I have not read the book and so cannot comment on how faithful the adaptation was, an enjoyable story it was. Early on we are introduced to a newcomer to the Chronicles, young cousin Eustace, played by Will Poulter. Having been a fan of his performance in Son of Rambow it was great to see him competently handle a wildly different character, and my fondness for him was strengthened by his humble and enthusiastic manner in person. The other stars were just fine too. I especially enjoyed Simon Pegg’s voiceover for the character Reepicheep, replacing Eddie Izzard in this chapter, and it is always a joy to hear the silky tone of Liam Neeson as Aslan.
The film starts off with some strong effects seeing the protagonists swallowed up by a painting, the action then levels out as the story drags a little. However we are rewarded with a flourish of magical effects and excitement in the closing quarter: I loved the Ghostbuster ‘Stay Puft moment’. That combined with great camerawork and direction throughout make it quite a joy to watch. A must see family festive movie.
Director: Michael Apted
Cast: Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Will Poulter, Liam Neeson, Simon Pegg
Runtime: 115 min