“The Chronicles of Narnia” is one of the more under-acknowledged YA series adaptations in theaters nowadays, but if you haven’t gotten into the series already, “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is the perfect time to start. It’s the third film in the series (following “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Prince Caspian”) and, though it’s a direct sequel to “Caspian,” it is also a story unto itself. And I am completely biased in saying this, but “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” is totally the best book in C.S. Lewis’ classic series. Let’s take a look at the story before it hits theaters Friday!
Characters you need to know: As in all the “Narnia” films, the central characters of the story are the Pevensie children. However, in this film, the eldest Pevensies, Peter and Susan, are too old to return to Narnia, and only Edmund and Lucy return to the magical world for the third time. Their obnoxious cousin Eustace is dragged in along with them, but don’t worry, he turns out much nicer by the end of their journey. In Narnia they meet up with their friend Caspian (now the king) and the rat Reepicheep and also have several run-ins with the omniscient being of Narnia, the lion Aslan.
Plot Synopsis: As we already discussed, Edmund, Lucy and Eustace get pulled into Narnia at the beginning of “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” and end up on board the Dawn Treader, Caspian’s ship. It turns out only three years have passed in Narnia time since the Pevensies helped Caspian reclaim his throne in “Prince Caspian,” and now he is on a journey to find the seven lost lords of Narnia. The journey takes them through many distant lands that are new to the series, and Caspian’s journey is very similar to that of Homer’s “The Odyssey” (which is why it’s the coolest part of the series!). Let’s just say that many epic, magical mishaps lie in store for the three children.
Stars: Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley are both reprising their roles as Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, and newcomer Will Poulter is playing Eustace Scrubb. Ben Barnes has returned to the series as Caspian, in all his bearded, long-haired glory (swoon!), and Liam Neeson is again voicing Aslan. Expect to see familiar faces, from Tilda Swinton as the White Witch (she also had a cameo in “Prince Caspian” after being defeated in “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”) and from William Moseley and Anna Popplewell as Peter and Susan Pevensie.
A scene from the book that must be in the film: There are plenty of great scenes in “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” if only because the journey literally covers a lot of ground. But my favorite of the adventures was always when Spoiler Alert! Eustace gets turned into a dragon. Yes, he is that dragon that keeps being shown in the trailers, though you’ll have to wait until you watch the film to find out why he got turned or how he gets out of it. Still, it was a neat little scene in the book and, like all of C.S. Lewis’ books, a good life lesson.
What the film’s got over the book: While we always had to imagine all the amazing places that are explored in “Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” now we finally get to see them, and that unto itself is enough of an edge over the book. But the film also has Ben Barnes, who has not starred in nearly enough films since he made a splash in “Prince Caspian,” so we’ll take whatever chance we can get to see his pretty face.