Trailer Tuesday: The Chronicles of Narnia - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Well, it's been a while in the making - especially since Disney abandoned the franchise in late 2008, only to be replaced by Fox - but come December we'll be able to watch #3 in the Chronicles of Narnia film series: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

Based on C.S. Lewis's beloved children's book (and Christian allegory), The Voyage of the Dawn Treader focuses on the return of the two youngest Pevensie children, Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley), to Narnia - now with their obnoxious cousin, Eustace Scrubb (Will Poulter) in tow. This time the children help dashing King Caspian (Ben Barnes) on his odyssey to the end of the world to find the seven lost lords of Narnia - allies of his father - who were exiled from Narnia during the rule of Caspian's evil uncle. The sea voyage aboard the ship known as the Dawn Treader takes Caspian, the children, Caspian's crew and battle-loving mouse Reepicheep (now voiced by Bill Nighy as opposed to Eddie Izzard) to various mysterious islands beyond the boundaries of Narnia. There they encounter slave traders, magicians, living stars, dragons and mer-people as they get ever closer to the never visited continent that is Aslan's Country.

Now anyone who has been reading this blog for a few years now will know that I'm a huge Narnia fan - of both the books and the films. C.S. Lewis's Narnia novels are probably my favourite, and most re-read, fantasy series of all time. And if I was ever going to get a tattoo, it would be of Aslan. So, please view the commentary that follows as coming from a very fussy fan.

You see, frankly I'm worried about the film version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It could just be studio marketers trying to highlight what they think cinema audiences expect, but the trailer suggests that the filmmakers have completely missed the point of the literary tale on which the movie is based. Although never the most popular of the books, Dawn Treader was a refreshing change in direction after The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, and Prince Caspian - both of which focused on massive battles to save Narnia from evil. Dawn Treader eschewed high stakes wars in favour of a good old fashioned naval adventure. Each island stop produced a different fantastic encounter, with events growing more weird and wonderful the closer the travelers got to Aslan's Country.

Although I admittedly need to re-read the book before the film's release, what I most distinctly remember about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was that it was a journey of personal exploration and discovery. By contrast, the film adaptation seems to want to be as "Epic" as its predecessors, and yet again the fate of the entire world of Narnia is somehow at stake. Blah blah blah. It's about as yawn-inspiring as the fact that Edmund and Lucy seem to have developed the same concerns and delusions of grandeur that their siblings harboured in the earlier films. And yet again - despite being completely absent from the book - The White Witch (Tilda Swinton) pops up to tempt the Dawn Treader crew with promises of power.

Given how many themes are apparently lifted wholesale from the film versions of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian, perhaps The Voyage of the Dawn Treader should be retitled The Voyage of the Dawn REtreader? Instead of attempting some new and different, the filmmakers appear to be mired in the old and predictable.

This said, I really hope I'm wrong about everything I've theorised. This includes how Susan (Anna Popplewell) and Peter (William Moseley) Pevensie's unexpected appearance in the film suggests a possible early end to the movie franchise. I don't think it's entirely impossible that the filmmakers could cap off the series here, and avoid the challenge of adapting the much darker, grimmer and body strewn The Silver Chair and The Last Battle. And here I am still waiting for the White Witch and Narnia origin story that is The Magician's Nephew. Ho hum.

Aslan, please prove me wrong.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader will be releasing in North America and South Africa on 10 December. The film will be screening in traditional 2D format as well as 3D.


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