Voyage of the Dawn Treader

This movie opinion piece is based on my article first published as Voyage of the Dawn Treader Actors Grown into Their Skin on Blogcritics.

Much can be said in praise of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Among those praises is the acting. We saw most of these characters in the prior Narnia films, but never so grown up in their acting skills. In a way I think the franchise would have been better with all of them at this age (2010). I don’t know if the messages of Narnia can be properly played by kids who haven’t lived much. Maybe I have to go back and see the old one again? Whatever I may find in reviewing prior films, the actors in Voyage of the Dawn Treader are grown up to perfectly play the kids of Narnia.

The director Michael Apted is one to be respected. His back catalog includes Nell with Jodie Foster, a Bond film The World is Not Enough, and a slough of other films through the years that most any fan of film culture has heard of. All his efforts come together and make this movie appear a professional, emotive film for our times. It is regal, like the impression you get looking at a fine chandeliers.

There are three screenplay authors: Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Michael Petroni. The first two worked together on the previous Narnia films while Petroni was brought in just for this one. This may be what adds a new dimension to this film for me. Of course, with three writers adapting a novel to a screenplay, it’s impossible for a humble viewer to say who brought what.

Stellar acting is delivered by the once small Lucy Pevensie, Georgie Henley. I can’t say enough good things about her. She is growing into an accomplished actress and yet she maintains an unassuming air rarely seen in big time actors. There is a scene before she goes into Narnia when she is in her school uniform talking with her siblings and I could tell by her experiences voice and movement that she had grown into a more soulful, mature actor.

Another actor grown into his own skin is Skandar Keynes, Edmund Pevensie. His interactions with the white witch in this film are much more believable than the ones previously. This is crucial to the impact of this film in as much as “dealings with the devil” are important to all the works of C.S. Lewis.

Ben Barnes, who plays Caspian, also plays a very maturely acted role and adds a lot to the film. When I look at photos of him off camera I am struck by how much older and mature he looks in the movie than how he appears in real life. I think all the characters really grew up to act in this film and it provides a positive impact.

Last but not least, Will Poulter plays Eustace Clarence Scrubb. This character by far gives the film more depth than previous Narnia ones. While we may not find him a loveable figure, we see ourselves in Eustace. Whoever has been self conscious or fearful can find relatable material in his character. He does an excellent job conveying an “unlikeable” character to the audience. The payoff? In the end we learn it’s ok to be imperfect. Aren’t we all? Furthermore, the imperfect can inherit the promised land.

It is clear to me the Voyage of the Dawn Treader will be remembered more than the prior ones in this franchise. This is due in large part to the actors having grown into their own skin and their craft.

3 Replies to “Voyage of the Dawn Treader”

  1. Hi Damien, I’m a fellow songwriter and also a happily married man with three adult children.

    Despite the very compressed nature of the film, it was a good movie. I do think however that the 3D was unnecessary.

    I’m a HUGE fan of the books, and one who doesn’t go to many movies. I didn’t read the series until I was an adult.

    I was inspired to write a song several years ago, after reading the book. The primary inspiration was Reepicheep’s yearning to travel to Aslan’s country at the end of the world, a main theme in the book that, unfortunately, was mostly absent from the movie.

    I pitched the song, “Eastward,” to Twentieth Century Fox hoping they would pick it up as a trailer for the movie… but alas it was not meant to be.

    If you’re interested, have a listen here:

    And I agree — Will Poulter was outstanding as Eustace!

  2. Thanks Nick! Really glad to make your acquaintance. Unlike you, I only read a few books as a young guy in a cursory way. I am a giant fan os C.S. Lewis’ more grownup works so I was eager to see these movies as they came out. This one was by far the best for me, reason being the more older. mature acting.

    I will check out your site, sounds like we have the song stuff in common!

  3. Personally, I liked this movie for so than Prince Caspian (still The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is my personal favorite of the movies). The only thing I didn’t like was that they made a central villain to the story (the book really didn’t). However, I love the ending scene (my favorite part of the film). Hopefully, with rumors stating that there going continue on with The Silver Chair, we’ll get to go back to this cinematic world of Narnia.

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