The third outing in the Chronicles of Narnia series is a superb adventure fantasy, enriched in its visuals, story, and themes.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader tips the scales back in favour of what is morally right, during a year in cinema where sadistic and even nihilistic mainstream releases (Kick Ass, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) have received acclaim.
The handling of Christian morals and ethics in popular culture is a tricky endeavour, yet something which author and apologist C.S. Lewis did well in his Narnia books.
Although those same theological messages have been slightly muted in the feature film adaptations (no doubt so it doesn’t scare away the secular set), The Chronicles of Narnia still pulses with Lewis’ vigour in his faith.
And so it goes with The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third part in the Narnia series where once again the Pevensie children are summoned to battle evil.
Actually, make that two of the Pevensie children, Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skandar Keynes), who join the dashing and curiously Spanish accent less King Caspian (Ben Barnes) on the mighty ship The Dawn Treader, to fight against a mysterious force which has plagued their land.
Also long for the ride is younger cousin Eustace (Will Poulter), a soddy little prat whose non-belief and arrogance makes for a frustrating yet humorous distraction, and whose transformation into something else entirely is a pleasure to watch.
Although these faithful warriors have to contend with the likes of dragons, sorcerers, and sea serpents, it is in fact temptation, that original of sins, which is the true enemy.
One by one they are faced with their darkest thoughts and desires, making this a fantasy film that is as much about the power of faith and strength in self respect, then it is about the power of might and ability to do violence, exactly the type of stuff missing from too many movies today.
Shot on location in Queensland, Australia (Gold Coast to be specific), the natural beauty of its locales meshes very well with the films visual effects work, which is some of the best seen this year.
Directed by the well travelled Michael Apted, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader delivers on its promise of high spirited adventure and Lewis’ special brand of theology, making this Narnia tale the best one yet.