Narnia loses its magic with Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Published: January 30, 2011

Caspian's moustache in the movie made him look like a leprechaun.

It all started from a forgotten old closet in the largest mansion the Pevensies had ever seen. Today, five years later, Lucy and Edmund are still adventuring in Narnia in the third film installment The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

The missing siblings

This time, Peter and Susan do not accompany them. Do we miss William Moseley, who plays the boyishly cute Peter? Yes, we certainly do, but certainly don’t miss Anna Popplewell , who plays the conscientious, nagging and whiny Susan.

Although it’s sad to see the Pevensies part ways I, for one, am glad that Susan has grown up and is no longer part of the story. On the plus side, we get to see eye- candy Ben Barnes again as Caspian.

The story is pretty much like any voyage might be. Caspian decides to go in search of the seven lost lords of Narnia on the royal ship Dawn Treader, captained by his best friend, the creepy Lord Drinian who doesn’t have much of a role except when he’s being the voyage’s spoilsport and trying to make them all turn back.

On this adventure, apart from Lucy, Edmund, their annoying cousin Eustace accidentally gets transported to Narnia through a painting. As if that wasn’t enough, he also gets transformed into a cowardly dragon halfway through the movie. He manages to redeem himself towards the end, however, when he saves the tardy crew from a sea serpent.

The question is this: will this sequel do justice to the written word?

Technically, no.

Is the magic missing from Narnia this time?

Definitely, yes.

The old spark of excitement, when the Pevensies enter Narnia; the lost wonder and magic of days gone by; the hidden world full of strange creatures, bright blue streams, and towering mountains; all of it is miserably missing from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Narnia as a world is gone, and in its place we have an adventure movie for children, borrowing heavily from its prequels yet not adding to the glory of the franchise.

Caspian’s beard and random creatures

Moreover, there are a couple of flubs that have to be mentioned. For instance, why is does Caspian (Ben Barnes) have a beard? I have nothing against him (on the contrary, I think he’s cute) but that beard makes him look like a lost leprechaun.

Then there’s the sole minotaur; I have nothing against them in particular, but I don’t understand why they included just one minotaur and one faun. Did anyone else think that The Dawn Treader was some kind of ark of Moses for the Narnians? It’s as though the director decided to have one creature of every breed from Narnia on the boat just to hang on to that string which connects The Voyage of the Dawn Treader to the world of Narnia.

Then there’s the question of the lazy crew, which comes on board every time sword play is taking place between the protagonists. The Narnians should thank Aslan they did not run into The Flying Dutchman. It was a singularly incapable crew who would have been serving a life sentence on board The Flying Dutchman if they were ever to meet.

Lastly, there was Reepicheep; a strange, swashbuckling, sword-fighting mouse who developed an equally strange relationship with Cousin-turned-dragon Eustace. It was simply disturbing, but maybe I’m just getting tired of talking computer generated imagery characters.

The best parts

These magical parts are the ones with Lucy; not only am I a fan of Georgie Henley (the adorable actress who plays Lucy) but also just like Aslan says in the movie, it was Lucy who discovered Narnia in the first place. She hid in that closet and was the one who was the first to enter Narnia.

The island of the Dufflepuds reminded me a little of Wonderland. The door opening into the magician Coriakin’s invisible mansion; the colour of dusk and sunset melded together with the grassy greens were all enchanting sequences. The Book of Incantations and Lucy’s spell for snow revived some of the magic that I had been craving for. The scene where Lucy, back in the ship with her stolen spell, sees herself as Susan and is transported to America through a mirror, is surreal; the tea party, the glamour of the 40’s, and the flashes of an old-fashioned camera. Plus we get to see Peter again!

What I missed the most

What was missing from Narnia were the lamppost and Mr Tumnus, the sadness which lies across the land (in my point of view it signifies Aslan’s burden); and Aslan himself (with the voice of Liam Neeson), who always comes to the rescue.

The Pevensies too, were missed because it’s sad to see them part, just like it was always exciting to see them head back to their adventures in Narnia together.

I’ve always loved the Narnia books. I’ve always loved the first movie (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe); Prince Caspian was just bordering on exciting; and overall, the Voyage was a good watch.

But was it Narnia?

No, it wasn’t.

Jza Rizvi

Jza Rizvi

A copywriter at an advertising firm in Lahore. She is a graduate in Economics and is interested in sci-fi, fantasy and history

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://www.bonfriends.org/ask-super-sis/ Selina Gilani – Relationship

    Useless article. sorry to say but please write about things which matters.Recommend

  • http://pk.linkedin.com/in/babarjaved Babar Khan Javed

    ^the Tribune readers are a majority of masala seekers, that is the fact. Now lets see this get edited.

    Dear author, to be taken seriously, top the creations of the Narnia universe. You may comment on copy in campaigns but not modern literature. This franchise sells well and you are the minority that disagrees with its brilliance.

    I am not a Narnia fan, but know many who are, and they love it.

    Please conduct a poll next timeRecommend

  • Shahbaz Younis

    I am a big fan of Narnia Series, but I found The Lion the witch and the wardrobe the best, coz when lucy entered fantasy land of Narnia the time span when they come back to real world was awesome… , yeah the magic is missing in Voyage of dawn treader…. Recommend

  • http://bakedsunshine.wordpress.com/ Shumaila

    You can’t expect the dawn treader to be the same as the lion the witch and the wardrobe…they were completely different book wise and though I haven’t seen the movies I’m not surprised the atmosphere of Narnia is lacking in the former…the dawn treader book really was an adventure story rather than a fantasy tale. And Reepicheep was actually an important character, how could they miss out on him in the movie? Or include the older pevensies when the book doesn’t? I think you’re being a bit unreasonable.

    If you’d commented on faulty acting or direction or stage lights or whatever I would call this a review, but your vague points? They make no sense to me. Recommend

  • Halsqaqa

    I disagree, the magic of narnia is back and better than ever, to me it surpasses the last narnia movie “Prince Caspian” and as good as “the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe” you are so wrong about “Narnia loses its magic with Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, “Narnia posseses more and better magic with Voyage of the Dawn Treader”Recommend

  • pasawaqs

    @Shahbaz Younis:
    I disagree, the magic is not missing in voyage of the dawn treader, narnia’s magic is back and betterr in the voyage of the dawn treaderRecommend

  • bluelight

    I, myself, had not read the books, but I did research before and after seeing Voyage of the Dawn Treader. If you had done any yourself, you would realize that the entire Narnia series is roughly translated into the rise and fall of Christianity. It’s the wonderment, the struggle of keeping faith, and the downfall when a corrupt world takes over and destroys the magic of God. THAT’S why you felt as if there was no “magic” in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, because it’s no longer ABOUT the magic. The Christian message in this movie (and book) is heavier than the rest, including the line from Aslan when he tells Lucy that she will know him in her world, “because 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 knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/242/nicholas-sharaf/ Nicholas Sharaf

    I must disagree. While the movies don’t do the literature complete justice, I thought this particular movie was quite fantastic.Recommend

  • shah

    “Did anyone else think that The Dawn Treader was some kind of ark of Moses for the Narnians?”

    Forgive me if I’m wrong, but weren’t you actually referring to the Noah’s Ark?Recommend