The Voyage Of the Dawn Treader is a movie clearly designed more to capture the hearts of new fans than to satisfy the desires of those familiar with Lewis’ classic series. The movie heavily changes the story, more so even than in the previous two films. There were many changes, both good and bad. Combining Deathwater Isle and Dragon Island, for example, makes perfect sense in a cinematographic setting – it reduces elements unnecessary and unwanted in a film without sacrificing any of the cohesiveness or point of those narratives. Other changes were less warranted, such as the desperate grasping towards a love subplot, evident both at the beginning of the movie, where Lucy flirts with Caspian, and at the end, where Edmund and Caspian flirt with the daughter of the star. Other changes are arguable – was it really necessary for the star’s father to be present, or could he be dropped without compromising the story? I would argue for the former, but it is a decision that could be supported either way.
It seemed at times that the screenwriter was afraid of Lewis’ story – changing the emphasis from a very heavy one on redemption to one more focused on avoiding temptation; making up the main element of the story (the green mist), with no precedent in Lewis; removing elements from the story such as the corrupt governor of the Lone Islands whom Caspian confronted; retaining and furthering the plot line, utterly foreign to Lewis, of Caspian’s love for Susan; and other strange changes which broke both continuity and the suspension of disbelief. This may have been because I am familiar with the book, indeed, it is my favorite of Lewis’ works.
In technical terms, the movie was excellent, aside from one major flaw. The acting was extremely poor at times, a break from the first two movies. This was to the point where lines designed to be serious became comedic, breaking the mood of the movie. This was primarily present in the actors for Caspian and Edmund. It was particularly odd considering the first two movies, where there were few moments of bad acting. The special effects, cinematography, and other technical elements were very well done, however.
It was an enjoyable movie. There is no question as to that point. It was not, however, as enjoyable as the second, and much less so than the first. This was primarily due to the freedom the screenwriter took with Lewis’ text, which soured many of my favorite parts of the book. A simple abridgment would have been perfectly acceptable and understandable. Even slight changes would have been fine. My objection is rather to the break in the primary focus and storyline of Lewis’ text. Remedy this, and retain the quality of filming you have attained, and you will have my undivided support.
This DVD was provided to me courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Homeschool.com for the purpose of review. No other compensation was provided. My opinions are my own.