Whatever accusations one may be justified in throwing towards the massively successful franchises of Harry Potter and Twilight, it’s difficult to argue that they aren’t carried off with hefty lashings of convincing magical clout that firmly situate us, however we may feel about them, in their fantasy worlds.
Disappointingly however, this has hardly been a feat matched by The Chronicles of Narnia series. While the first instalment, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005), was at best a passable effort to bring C. S. Lewis’ sprawling imaginative tale to the screen and 2008’s follow up Prince Caspian took notable strides away from even bothering to imbue any sense of a real heart into the film series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010) is far beyond being simply lost at sea.
Embarking upon this seemingly endless, dot-to-dot like quest of flat and laborious special effect driven events, we fall victim further still to the franchise’s ever growing, deluded and cocksure array of purportedly endearing characters defying the odds in an increasingly awkward magical land.
The Voyage of Dawn Treader sees two of the original four children re-enter Narnia along with their cousin Eustace (Son of Ranbow’s Will Poulter), the film’s most irritating and therefore best character. Eustace moans incessantly in a “nails-on-a-chalkboard” personified, nasal, ultra-British fashion that will set your teeth on edge – in short, he’s a blindly cynical character you can’t help but love to hate. His most outright trait of annoyance however, is that he is unavoidably bound on a path towards a personality-altering encounter with one of Narnia’s many fluffy destiny spiels, that will reconfigure him as just another dull child of the Narnia franchise.
Once this happens, we have lost in Eustace our one tiny piece of driftwood that allowed us to actually feel something tangible. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader then proceeds to leaves us hopelessly adrift in its meagre waters and leaves Narnia to suffer a fate far worse than the world of a dopey teenage girl, swooning in front of a vampire. It is instead resigned to being a dull, CGI-generated mess, made without one noticeable speck of interest from its creators beyond the all too evident fact that they were being paid to perform the thankless task of delivering a seasonal money-spinner in the guise of “Narnia 3“.