Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Chronicles of Narnia - The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: My Review

Warning: Spoilers

After a scathing review of Prince Caspian, I didn't really expect this movie to be any better. As it turns out, I was right. I saw exactly what I was expecting, a good movie, a bad adaption.

I must admit, I did approach this movie slightly differently. After reading a few preliminary reviews, the most notable of them being an interview by Christianity Today with the supposed Narnia policeman, Douglas Gresham (LINK), and a scathing review by a Catholic website (LINK), I entered the theater with low expectations.

Unfortunately, even my low expectations met with disappointment.

Call me a Narnia purist, I can live with that title. But I'd rather be a purist than to endorse such a gross perversion of Lewis' story. Just like Prince Caspian, the time line was shredded into confetti, and then put back together in a seemingly arbitrary fashion. Instead of every island being a story in itself, islands were amalgamated, along with their plots. For example, Dragon Island and Deathwater Island are the same island in the film.

And then, the over-arching story the film writers added. A malevolent, unpredictable, and totally random green mist. I am not sure where this idea came from, but it is miles away from Lewis' story.

And then there's the resurrection of the competition between a high king of Narnia, and Prince Caspian. This was overdone in Prince Caspian, and didn't need to carry over into this movie with Caspian and Edmund. Yes, I know there was a little spat in the book about the wealth of Deathwater Island, but it was given far too much credence in the movie.

Every scene was twisted and contorted from the original to the extent that Narnia "purists" like myself did not feel like they were watching a movie about Narnia.

When I first began the movie, the sensation was strange. During the scene with the painting, and on through the slave market on the Lone Islands, I kept thinking, "Okay, this is tolerable, so far." But with the green mist, and using slaves as a sacrifice, I just shook my head. I cannot understand how this is embraced by so many Narnia enthusiasts.

The sea serpent was made into the primary antagonist. Ramandu is never seen. Aslan's table isn't refreshed. Coriakin is portrayed as a stick in the mud. The Dufflepuds are barely seen. The Magician's Book is completely obliterated from the book.

And just wait until you see the abominable way Eustace is "undragoned". If you are a fan of that scene in the book, the way it is done in the movie will tear the skin off of you more than Eustace.

As far as I am concerned, there is one man to hold accountable. Lewis' own stepson, Douglas Gresham. His job was to see that the stories maintained their purity in the cinematic adaption and, as far as I am concerned, he has failed miserably. I do not wish to judge him too harshly, as I know that his hands were tied to an extent. But alas, these movies are hardly recognizable as Narnia movies at all. They were more like movies made using the Narnia theme as a backdrop, instead of an actual Narnia movie.

In my personal opinion, and I say this without reservation. It would have been better to have never had a cinematic adaption of Lewis' Narnia stories than to endorse these perversions of Lewis' vision. These movies are a distorted caricature of their namesake, and are a shame to behold by loyal Narnians. No amount of eye candy and special effects will ever absolve Disney of their sins in making these movies. My favorite of the books, The Horse and His Boy, I hope never has to undergo such distorted cinematic revisionism. And with the mediocre opening weekend, stifled much by tough economic times, and wacky weather covering much of the nation, it is looking hopeful that the franchise will not extend that far.

My advice, do not go see this movie. Rather watch the original BBC version on YouTube (embedded below), which is far superior to the new Disney version. Watch their version of Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader for yourself...