Saturday, December 11, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Treader: A Comprehensive Review

First of all, you should know that I've been looking forward to the release of Dawn Treader for about two years now. I've been stalking the crew via the web as they sailed around New Zealand, filming. I've kept tabs on who they cast as the new characters. If I lived in New Zealand, I'd probably be the creeper hiding in the tree, staring hungrily at the cast. Now why would I act in such a manner? Is it just because I'm a loyal Narnian?

Well, yes. That and Voyage of the Dawn Treader is my favorite book in the Chronicles of Narnia.

Oh snap. Shit just got real.

When they're making a film adaptation of your favorite, you tend to become a super fangirl. And so I did. I have just returned from seeing it today, and I have to say...

Well, let me first say that I was seriously concerned about this movie. I wasn't concerned about it till about two days ago, when I read this article. It about gave me and all my other fellow Inklings a legitimate heart attack. The article warned about huge plot changes, things taken from the next book, The Silver Chair, and commented that the Lewis Estate was unhappy with the changes. To a die-hard Narnia and forever fan of C.S Lewis like me, this gave me feelings of great terror. They were going to ruin my favorite book.

Then I saw it today. Terror averted.

Honestly, I think the article was just trying to scare Narnia fans. Dawn Treader did have some major deviations--mostly I think because in the book, there is no real 'bad guy'. Think about it. LWW had the White Witch, PC had Miraz, SC will have Lady of the Green Kirtle, and LB will have the Ape, the Calormene, and Tash, but DT has no dastardly villain. I don't necessarily believe film always has to have a dastardly villain, but doing a fantasy film without one made the producers nervous so they had to add crap in. Most of the time, the movie kept a great deal with the spirit of the book and mostly the major deviations were expanded upon details C.S Lewis already had.

Although I will admit confusion towards the seven-swords-at-Aslan's-table-to-defeat-the-scary-green-mist thing. What? I guess the green mist was maybe foreshadowing the Lady of the Green Kirtle? But I got nothing for the seven swords bit, I guess the writers were feeling super creative. Well, it generally worked for the film.

First off, let me say that the actor for Eustace Clarence Scrubb, Will Poulter, was absolutely MARVELOUS. They could not have chosen a better Eustace if they tried. Will Poulter had the right amount of humor, whininess, practicality, and humanity that Eustace did and during his dragon scene, I couldn't help but clap. I also adored how they interpreted Reepicheep and Eustace's relationship and made it a mentor/mentee kind of deal, which was also canon to the books.

I also liked how the expanded on Lucy's insecurity of not being beautiful like her sister. Well, Georgie, I think you're adorable, just so you know. In the book, this insecurity and temptation to change her physical appearance was glossed over, in a scene where Lucy very quickly learns her lesson. In the film she does too, but it takes her longer.

The expansion on Dark Island, how they made Dark Island essentially the nemesis (aside from the GREEN MIST OF EVIL) (I should stop making fun of the green mist, my friend Alex pointed out how it could represent a physical manifestation of temptation, which was a recurring theme in the movie) was kind of neat move. The Dark Island scene was very scary in the book, and although it didn't last long and certainly wasn't the main conflict, it left a great impression on you. Lewis almost didn't keep it in the final draft of the story because he was concerned it was too frightening for young readers. So I think their expansion on it was a good thing.

I also liked how they gave Ramandu's Daughter a name, cuz I love you Mr. Lewis, but she should've had a name.

I like how the White Witch still haunts Edmund cuz I don't think you'd ever really get over being under her thumb.

I like Caspian in wet clothes. Smaaaaughdrooolmmmmmm....

I literally had a fangirl squeal at the end when Aunt Alberta called, "Jill Pole is here to see you!" Because it's JILL!!! Only...why is she here to see Eustace? Cuz at the beginning of SC, she sort of hates Eustace...

Those are all the things I liked, so I'll be nitpicky and list the things I didn't really care for too.

1. Where the hell did Caspian's accent go? He had a Spanish one in the previous film, and now he has a British one. Consistency, people. Did Ben Barnes get tired of feigning it? Did they think that his newly added man scruff plus the accent was too much for fangirls?

2. I didn't like how Caspian was added in the final scene where they meet Aslan before the tidal wave thing blocking view of his country. Caspian very much wanted to go to Aslan's country, and Reepicheep and Lucy told him in no uncertain terms that he had a duty here and he could not simply abandon it. Caspian snapped at them and then was pretty much bitched out by Aslan in his cabin. We had none of this scene, which I thought was pretty portent to Caspian's character.

3. I miss Eddie Izzard as Reepicheep. The new guy sounded vaguely like him, but Eddie Izzard made a fabulous Reepicheep. Plus this guy had a different interpretation of Reep, which took a little getting used to.

4. I'm still not sure how I feel about the whole angle of Rhince being a resident of the Lone Islands and trying to find his wife and his daughter stowing away...what? Alex, once again, pointed out how the daughter seemed to be more of a growing point for LUCY than an actual plot point, but I still am not sure how I feel about it.

5. I didn't like that Lord Bern was a prisoner instead of...a rich lord and resident. I understand that it flowed better for the film this way, but my anal must-keep-accurate-to-the-book personality didn't like it.

6. Eustace's undragonification sequence I thought was a tad hurried, seeing as it took place during a battle. That's one of the highlights of the novel. I wish they'd given it more time.

7. I really wish they'd kept the scene where when Lucy makes the invisible visible, Aslan is made visible. Because Lucy says something along the lines of, "Oh Aslan! As if anything I could say would make you visible!" And he says back to her, "Don't you think I obey my own rules?" Aslan is big on obeying his own rules. So I was greatly disappointed that it wasn't there.

Well, that's the whole of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It was a lovely movie and I think they did it extremely well. Honestly, I was legitimately shocked that they kept a direct line from Aslan at the end--the line where Aslan tells Lucy that he has another name in her world and that she was brought to Narnia so that she may know him better there. I expected that, for politically correct reasons, to be dropped. But it was there. They kept it. I was shocked and delighted.

Of course, now I understand Liam Neeson's lines about his portrayal of Aslan a little bit better now...

Whatever. The movie was great. Go see it!!!

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