Chronicles of Narnia The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
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 Chronicles of Narnia The Voyage of the Dawn Treader



Film franchises that follow popular fiction can be exceptionally profitable for a studio especially if the original literary works were targeted toward the young audience members. The third installment in The Chronicles of Narnia film series, ‘the Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ , is the third installment of films based on the beloved children’s classics written by C.S. Lewis. While the franchise in general is holding up reasonably well and this movie specifically works for the intended demographic the flick does suffer enviously due to comparisons with films completely out of its league. Although Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were contemporaries and friends the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ and the ‘Lord of the Rings’ operate on completely different levels. Rings inherently appeals to a much broader range of demographics in age and gender. The ‘Narnia’ saga tends to poll younger than its Middle Earth cousin. It also is perceived as containing a strong infusion of Christian doctrine which does affect the size and composition of the fan base. Among the myriad of differences and similarities that can be listed between the two franchises the most important discrepancy is found in the methods utilized in the production. The Ring’ franchise was conceived of as a trilogy with all three films made during the same period of principle photography. This ensured internal continuity and that the actors were the same ages throughout. In another fantasy franchise ‘Harry Potter’, the author aged the characters one year per book/film giving the real life actors a chance to grow up following the aging of the fans. With Narnia two of the main characters aged out of the story; becoming too old to reenter the magical kingdom of Narnia. While the story does allow for this in a fashion consistent with the parameters of the story’s setting it does remove two of the principle characters. Audiences tend to like to follow the same characters in a saga of this sort. It allows for building upon the previous adventure afford a strong measure of character development. Without this foundation ‘Dawn Treader’ is a bit of a story reboot saying farewell to some fan favorite and requiring the introduction of new characters. Normally this is a precarious situation for a film maker and studio but in this specific instance the film benefitted to a degree; rescued from preparing to jump the shark.

A major positive factor here is the writing team of Christopher Markus (screenplay) and Stephen McFeely provided the scripts for both of the films that came before. At least it provided authors who are able to follow the characters better understanding the way they and the situations progress. They are well respected in the industry being entrusted with part of the most anticipate franchises with the Marvel comics ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’. There had to be a lot of competition for that assignment. The same cannot be said for the director, Michael Apted. This is his only time helming a part of the series. Balancing this factor to a significant degree is Apted’s resume. A lot of his work as a director has been in television but it must be noted that the series were hailed for their merit; ‘Amazing Grace’, HBO’s Rome’ and a cult classic ‘Blind Justice’. The movies he made are notable including ‘Gorillas in the Mist’,’ Gorky Park’ and ‘Coal Miner’s Daughter’. His style is so remarkably robust and versatile that he has reinvented the feel of the movie and therefore the series. He has taken a new direction to bring the audience expanding it to a wider fan base. The fact that the setting was drastically changed moving from a land base adventure to a nautical jaunt on the high seas. Apted takes full advantage of this infusing the proceedings with an almost golden age swashbuckling adventure. It is a time honored Hollywood tradition to use the high seas as the ideal setting for crashing waves, heart pounding duels, sea battles and the right touch of budding romance. Now that eldest sister, Susan Pevensie (Anna Popplewell) has become an adult and unable to return to the alternate universe of Narnia the youngest, Lucy (Georgie Henley)n has stepped up from cute, innocent child to a teenage girl herself on the verge of adulthood.

Taking a well used plot device from television as the older children leave they can be replaced by exasperating cousins; in this case Will Poulter as Eustace Scrub. This character provides a means for exposition for those out there just getting into the series. He is the archetype of the little cousin, annoying, intrusive and seen as a general bother. He also replaces Lucy for audience identification with the youngest members of the audience. This time the portal to the magical land of Narnia is water pouring out of a bedroom painting of a sailing ship. Almost immediately they are rescued by their old friend and reigning king of Narnia, Caspian (Ben Barnes). They join him in a quest to free the nine Lords of Narnia with a secondary task of freeing Caspian from the Lone Island slavers. They have captured the King and sold the kids into slaves. Their adventurous journey takes the group from one danger ridden island to the next bringing as freshness to the story that had begun to decline in the previous installment. As a new beginning this movie has start to reinvigorate the franchise helping to continue as good family fun.

Posted 04/01/11

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