In the third installment of the Narnia series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, we once again meet up with Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, who have been trapped in the real world since the second installment. Surrounded by logical (a.k.a. boring) people doing logical (a.k.a. boring) things, these two find themselves frustrated and highly suffocated by the mundane nature of their lives and the contempt with which their peers esteem them.
But not to worry, this liminal phase only lasts about ten minutes before Edmund, Lucy and their obnoxious, know-it-all cousin Eustace Scrubb are transported to the magical land of Narnia and find themselves in the company of Prince Caspian aboard the Dawn Treader.
Visually speaking, this movie is breathtaking. Like the previous two movies, the scenery is dynamic and, not to state the obvious, magical. With sets ranging from volcanic mountains to white lakes of lilies, this movie continues to show the encompassing beauty of the land of Narnia. And the characters are equally visually impressive (SPOILER ALERT: the sea monster is awesome). In the first Narnia movie, I felt the larger creatures (especially the minotaurs and so forth) were a little stiff and awkward. But the creature creation technique has improved dramatically in this movie, making the mythical creatures seem more natural.
Plot-wise, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is moderate at best. Despite being nearly two hours long, the movie felt very rushed. One minute they’re relaxing on the Dawn Treader, the next they find out they need to find seven swords (still a little confused about that, by the way), and before you know it they already have six of the seven. It all felt a little too easy.
Despite its flaws, I would recommend this movie to anyone simply for the religious and moral aspects. As you probably know, C.S. Lewis was a devout Christian (besides the Narnia series, he authored religious literary works such as Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters) and he created Narnia to introduce younger readers to concepts such as repentance, redemption and faith.
Some comparisons are more obscure than others. For example, seven swords are needed to destroy the evil plaguing Narnia — seven being a reoccurring number in the Bible and considered the holiest of numbers. Also, the home of Aslan is located beyond the edge of the world. (Heaven, anyone?) Others are more obvious: In order to reach the locations of the seven swords, the characters are told they will be tested and tempted, requiring them to turn to Aslan and ask him for strength and protection.
Yes, the lessons could come across as a little Sunday School-ish, but these themes are incredibly valuable and relevant regardless. In what was undoubtedly the most emotionally powerful scene in the film, Aslan tells the young adventurers, “I am in your world, but there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia — that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
It may be cheesy, but everyone loves cheese. Especially cheese that makes you feel good.
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