Where sky and water meet,
Where the waves grow sweet,
Where the waves grow sweet,
Doubt not, Reepicheep,
To find all you seek,
There is the utter east.
Well, after months of waiting, I finally went to see the Voyage of the Dawn Treader a few days ago. And once I’d gotten back home, I decided to sit down and write down my thoughts… so here you have them.
Warning: This contains lots of spoilers, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet and don’t want to know what happens, read no further!
All in all, the movie seemed really anticlimactic to me. I’d been waiting for it for so long (because I love Narnia) and it did not meet any of my expectations. My main feeling as I left the movie theater was – and is – one of disappointment.
First off, I read lots of reviews and had lots of people tell me that the movie was very close to the book… it was not. As in the previous movie Prince Caspian, the overarching storyline was the same (three children got dragged into Narnia through a picture… sail on a ship… face adventure!) but they changed most of the other aspects of the plot. That was disappointing enough in and of itself. I don’t go to a see a movie based on a book to see the director’s new and “improved” storyline… I want to see the book made into a movie. And I do understand that books don’t always translate well into movies – especially books with lots of narrative and less dialogue like the Narnia books. However, there was no reason for the changed plot in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader. But more on that later.
I liked the new take on the magic picture/transition from our world to Narnia! It was fun and exciting.
Eustace and Reepicheep: These two characters were portrayed extremely well. I mean, Eustace was Eustace Clarence Scrubb (and he definitely deserved it)! And Reepicheep has always been one of my favorite characters! They provided a lot of the comic relief in the movie and had most of the memorable lines. “Do not touch the tail! Aslan himself gave me this tail!” In my view, it’s worthwhile going to see the movie if only because of these two!
Although they (the decision makers in the movie-making world) changed many things, they did keep in some very important lines! The first one: Eustace telling the others that no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t stop being a dragon… it was only Aslan who could turn him back into a boy again. This is a very significant line when you think about it in comparison to our own redemption – we are helpless to save ourselves; only through Christ can we live.
The other line that I’m glad they left in was Aslan’s at the very end when he tells Lucy and Edmund that this is their last trip to Narnia. He tells them that he is in their world as well. “But 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 by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
The Dufflepods (once they became visible) were hilarious… and exactly how I’d pictured them. I wish they could’ve stayed onscreen for just a few more minutes though…
Although I missed the whole hilarious episode with Governor Gumpas, I actually liked the fact that the crew came to fight to rescue the others! It made for a good battle scene.
Unfortunately this is a rather long list… I won’t be extremely nitpicky and point out all the changes they made… because there have to be changes when books are turned into movies, so I’ll stick with the big changes or the completely unnecessary changes.
The green mist, in my opinion, was a poor exchange for C.S Lewis’ original plot. I mean… really? Creepy green stuff that crawls all over the place and plants bad dreams in people’s heads? It reminded me of something from a superhero movie – like the black goo from Spider Man 3. It certainly did not belong in Narnia.
The changed timeline. I understand why they decided to combine several islands into one (Deathwater Island and Dragon Island) and skip some of the others – they do have a time limit! For me at least, that wasn’t an issue. I didn’t like the fact that Eustace was a dragon for most of the movie. When they are about to go into the Green Mist, Eustace becomes afraid and almost flies away until Reepicheep points out that he’s practically invincible in his dragon-armor. So Eustace stays and fights. It seemed like it cheapened the changed/braver Eustace. In the book, the recovered boy-Eustance attacks the sea serpent with a sword out of bravery, not because he’s invincible and knows that practically nothing can harm him.
Mainly the movie felt rushed – it seemed like they had to hurry through everything to get to the new green mist plot. If they left some of the green mist stuff out, they could have kept more of the original story in.
The Narnians go to Ramandu’s Island… and never meet Ramandu. Not necessarily something that would normally get on the “cons list” just something I thought interesting. And they left out the whole scene with Governor Gumpas, one of my favorites, in order to establish the green mist plot…
Caspian’s character felt weak at times – especially when he’s giving his rallying speech before they’re about to go into battle: “Now is the time to be strong!” It felt like he was trying to convince himself more than the others.
I think my biggest issue with the movie is that it lacked the Narnia feel. The movie Prince Caspian was very different from the book and didn’t always have a C.S. Lewis feel, but it still felt very much like Narnia. So much so, that even though I’m a stickler for sticking to the books, I still really liked Prince Caspian. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader didn’t feel like Lewis and it certainly didn’t feel like Narnia. Perhaps it also felt different because of the change in directors. All in all, I don’t think I would’ve minded the other changes so much, if they hadn’t introduced the green mist into the plot line.
The movie also didn’t feel epic. I don’t really know how to describe it, but the movie lacked the epic feel of the other movies. It seemed set on a much smaller scale. And the big battle of the whole movie was a battle against a sea serpent formed out of green mist?
I love the Narnia books and I’ve been really excited about the Narnia movies all along. But now, I’m starting to wonder if I want them to do anymore of the stories. I have always loved the Silver Chair (growing up, I always wanted to play Jill Pole) and the Last Battle is my absolute favorite out of all the Narnia books. Now, I’m not so sure I want the movie producers to tamper with them because I don’t know if they can get them right. Still, I know I would be sad if they stopped here and didn’t make the rest of the movies… I just hope they can follow the book next time! ;)
Anyway, to sum it all up, as the friend I saw the movie with said, “It was an enjoyable movie, but not a good book adaptation.” I wouldn’t discourage anyone from seeing it – in fact I’m going to see it a second time! I’d like to take a second look at it because I was so disappointed when I saw where it was going and that they’d changed the whole plot line that I probably looked at it more negatively than I normally would have.
So, my point is not to tell you not to see it – it’s a good and enjoyable movie – rather, to warn you not to expect Lewis’ Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
~ A Servant of the King