Note: There are spoilers in this post. If you want to watch the movie from an unbiased position, then I suggest that you stop reading right now. After all, you can come back to my post after you’ve watched the movie…
My sisters and I went to watch The Voyage of the Dawn Treader this morning.
And, as the title of this post suggests, I doubt that the director has ever read the book in his life! Or the screenwriter.Or anyone else involved in the production of the movie. In fact, I’m surprised that Douglas Gresham allowed them to desecrate it like they have.
C.S. Lewis will be turning in his grave. No, spinning, such would probably be the violence of his feelings upon beholding what they have done to his story.
In fairness though, I have to admit that it was not all bad. In fact there were some bits of the movie that actually bordered on good!
Eustace! I have to admit, when I saw who they had cast as Eustace, I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. As I watched the movie, though, he started to become the one bright spot! Really, Eustace was awesome! Whatever else the writers and the director may have gotten wrong, they managed to get Eustace right. To take a whingey and whiney character and, while staying true to the book, yet make him likeable is quite a feat. I take my hat off to that.
I also enjoyed the deeper relationship that Reepicheep and Eustace developed. C. S. Lewis touches on it in the book, but it’s pretty brief. I’m glad they developed that. A dragon and a mouse. Pretty ironic, huh?
Lucy has little sister issues. Her jealousy of Susan’s beauty was well portrayed and actually linked into what C.S. Lewis had written in the book. I enjoyed seeing that Lucy also has her weaknesses, and, quite frankly, this one made sense.
My favorite special effect, though, has got to be the scene where Lucy enters the invisible mansion! Those doors opening out of nowhere. Wow! That was pretty awesome.
I also loved the picture filling Lucy’s bedroom with water. Talk about epic!
However, there was a lot wrong with this film. In fact, I don’t even know where to start! So, in no particular order, what I didn’t like about this Narnia film:
The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist. The green mist.
Do you get the point?
C.S. Lewis didn’t write about it. So don’t bring it into the movie. It’s as simple as that.
(An explanation for any readers who have not seen the movie: This green mist appeared for the first time in the movie at the lone islands. Suddenly, the slave traders are sacrificing a boatful of people to this random green mist that appears on the sea and swallows up this poor boatful of people. So are we now slave trading or are we sacrificing people to the mist? I found it pretty hard to figure out what was actually supposed to be happening. Anyway, after this, the mist appears every now and then throughout the movie, supposedly to symbolise the mental turmoil that the main characters are going through as they are tempted.)
What I enjoyed about the previous Narnia movies and the books was the absence of clichéd Harry Potter style magic. This movie messed that up for sure. Seven swords, magic mist and a mysterious blue star guiding the crew to Ramandu’s island…
Besides being just plain annoying, the green mist also managed to totally take over the whole point of the story. Let me say that again. Something that was not even IN the book, suddenly became the whole point of the movie! Come again? How does that happen? Talk about insidious evil!
I found it pretty distracting that the order of the book was disrupted. Yes, I can understand that if you try to stick to the book and visit every single island and do justice to all of them and still fit in some character development as well as telling a story somewhere along the line, we might end up with a film(s) as long as Star Wars! But still. Seriously, is it necessary to completely muck up the order of events?
We watched the film in 3D. Honestly, if I could have found somewhere to watch it in 2D, I would have gone there, and not only for financial reasons. This was the first time I’d watched a film in 3D. Quite frankly, I can’t see what all the fuss is about! I had to suffer through the film with these uncomfortable, dark glasses balanced on the tip of my nose. To make matters even worse, I had to squish my own glasses somewhere in there as well, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to see anything due to my shortsightedness! Nope, definitely not my idea of fun…
I have another minor quibble. Dude, what is it with the slave traders swinging down from the roof on these long ropes to attack Caspian et al? This is Narnia, not Tarzan! Enough of the monkey rope swinging!
And what happened to Caspian’s totally awesome accent?
However, my minor quibbles fade into insignificant nothingness beside the theological errors that the movie makers introduced into the story. I am definitely not going to do them justice, so if you want to read a better summary than mine, go have a look here, and here. (Note: I cannot vouch for the theological accuracy of any other content in these sites. I have only read their Dawn Treader reviews, and I thought those were fairly good.)
I thought that the movie makers brought the theme of temptation through the movie quite nicely, despite it being not really true to the book. Having said that, I also have to say, that the film makers’ solution to the problem was not correct. Take for instance Lucy’s jealousy of Susan’s beauty. This is something that Lucy struggles with throughout the movie, but the final message is simply “Be Yourself.” I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything better in today’s Life Orientation and politically correct culture.
It is probably unrealistic to expect a non-Christian world to appreciate the Christian elements in C.S. Lewis’ books. I was disappointed to see that the beautiful story that Lucy reads in the book of spells, the one about a cup and a sword and a tree and a green hill, is replaced by a shallow snow storm that can show off the 3D effects.
Even worse, the character development of Eustace as a dragon is totally misrepresented. In the book, when Eustace is undragoned, he comes to the realisation that he cannot do it himself, even at the command of Aslan. Finally, it is Aslan who has to peel of the thick layer of dragon to expose the soft and vulnerable Eustace underneath. In sharp contrast to this, in the movie, it seems as though Eustace is undragoned as a reward for his valiant conduct during the fight with the sea serpent. He becomes a hero who saves himself.
The worst blunder of all, though, came right at the end of the film. They are standing at the end of the world. The beach is beautiful, the wave towering over them awe-inspiring. And the line straight out of the book sent the tingling down my spine: “You will know me by another name in your world.” This is why I read The Chronicles of Narnia. Because in C.S. Lewis’ story I see Jesus. I look forward to heaven. The books bring me to tears. Every. Single. Time.
But then, in the movie, the bubble pops. Suddenly there are broken bits of latex balloon smeared across the scene that was so beautiful just a moment ago. Aslan says to Reepicheep: “My country is made for those with noble hearts.” Suddenly, it is the noble that gain access to Aslan’s country. In a sense, this is simply a continuation of the philosophy of the film makers. You can be a hero. You just have to try hard enough. You have to defeat the evil within so that you can be yourself. Only the noble gain access to Aslan’s country.
It is a jarring end to a film which has not lived up to expectations.
I would rather leave you with the ending that C. S. Lewis provides.
“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”
“I shall be telling you all the time,” said Aslan. “But I will not tell you how long or how short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder. And now come; I will open the door in the sky and send you to your own land.”
Then all in one moment there was a rending of the blue wall (like a curtain being torn) and a terrible white light from beyond the sky, and the feel of Aslan’s mane and a Lion’s kiss on their foreheads…