The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Year: 2010
Production Co: Walden Media
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Michael Apted
Writer: Christopher Markus/Stephen McFeely/C S Lewis
Cast: Georgie Henley, Skandar Keynes, Ben Barnes, Will Poulter, Gary Sweet, Liam Neeson, Tilda Swinton, Bruce Spence, Anna Popplewell, William Moseley

There's a more interesting story behind the scenes of this film than in it. After making less than they wanted on the $225m The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian, Disney decided to drastically downgrade the budget for the third outing. Christian-friendly production partners Walden Media wanted them to spend more. Disney stepped out, 20th Century Fox stepped in, agreed to the budget, filmed it in Queensland and New Zealand and presumably hoped for a more profitable result than Disney managed last time.

The reason that's an interesting story is because judging by what's on screen, they hoped to do so by reducing the budget rather than improving the franchise. If you loved the last Narnia film (s), you'll love this. If you thought there were just more kid-friendly Lord of the Rings knock offs you'd seen a million times before, spend your money on the far superior Megamind or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Once again a bunch of CGI engineers have expanded their showreels exponentially on the work of a couple of hack writers for hire, all the innocent adventurism of CS Lewis' work eviscerated out in the name of three-act structure flash and pizzazz. As with most adventure films of the last decade, it could have been (and probably was) filmed in a greenscreen-filled warehouse with a few picturesque location shots chucked in when they were cheap to get.

None of which matters of course, it's about the characters and the story. Sadly, they both suck as well. The plot concerns the two youngest Pevensie children, Edmund (Keynes) and Lucy (Henley) being taken back to Narnia with their irritating cousin Eustace (Poulter). Why, when Narnia's been enjoying a period of peace thanks to their wise rule? I'm actually still not sure. Something to do with a demonic mist that comes across the sea and accepts human sacrifices that are sent from a slaving colony to keep it happy... or something.

Swept aboard the ship that gives the film its name with King Caspian and the crew, they have to collect seven magical swords and lay them on a table on a far off island to undo the spell and free the people the mist has taken.

You certainly don't expect Oscar worthy performances in a film like this, but apart from some accomplished seniors who return for a few scenes (the voice of Liam Neeson as Aslan, Tilda Swinton as the White Witch), the stilted acting and asinine script break the fourth wall continually to make you cringe. And the Pevensie siblings cousin, who's meant to be funny-irritating, is instead simply irritating. Very.

Wait for the end though, there's a special effect of a wave building at the edge of the world which is honestly the only good part of the film. It's also where the supposed Christian subtext of the Narnia books and the certain conservative stewardship of Walden Media take flight. Over the wave is Aslan's 'country', where you can go but never return from (heaven?), and to send Lucy and Edmund back home to London, Aslan commands the waters of the wave to part with a roar. Reading the Bible would take longer than watching this, but at least it doesn't have too much CGI.

If you have a niece or nephew who's bored these holidays, it will amuse them for a few hours and to be fair, that's who it's been made for. Sit in the back row, leave them to it and play Angry Birds until it's over.

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