The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader [2010]

I’ll try keep this brief.

For those of you who don’t know — I’m not going to recap — go use Wikipedia or something.

If childhood you, like childhood me, read the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ with the mounting dread that Lewis was going to do it, was he going to do it, oh he did it, that cunt…

Then you will likely be either ignoring the recent Hollywood shots at making the ‘Narnia Chronicles’ or eyeing it with mild suspicion, curiosity, watching them quietly without telling anyone until you’re sure.

‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ was good. ‘Prince Caspian’, I’m not ashamed to say, was bloody awesome. At least drunk me thought so and you should listen to him, he’s a doctor you know. It had war, it was surprisingly gory for a children’s film. All in all, my viewing companions and I spent most of the film exchanging shocked glances and strangled noises at the quality of the expected pap we were viewing. I am quite sure I heard one of them remark ”Wow, that was rather good.”

Whatever hope you, me and whoever else may have had for ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’, is cruelly crashed against the rocks within the strait of nightmares, also known as childhood memories.

This is not Hollywood blockbuster standard — this isn’t even BBC quality. This feels like a high quality television series, spliced into one movie. Plastic, filled with nobodies, overly bright, with TV movie cinematography, this is a waste of a breath of a film.

While I may have been suspicious of Walden Media before, suspicious that there was a waft of Church backers in all of this Narnia revival business. This third entry into the franchise confirms it. What Lewis kept just vague enough for you to be able to hold dim candle hope that it wasn’t true, that he wouldn’t do that, just like the girl in my basement. This film slaps you about the face with, almost screaming it.

If the action of Prince Caspian made you turn a blind eye to a few things. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has not the action, nor talent behind its basic construction to allow you to be able to do this. Let’s boil it down to simple things. Which — due to Walden Media turning this into as low a budget as possible money spinner thrown out there to moral of the story facefuck you with Yaweh — we can.

This is a film where we follow really quite hideous children as they caper through a plastic landscape more in tune with a daytime Sci-Fi Channel Sinbad movie. And we all know how bad they are don’t we? ‘Megasharktopus verus Giant Ostrich’ anyone?

Right so: ugly, ugly children, plastic landscape, surrounded by bloody nobodies who can normally only get work as corpses or disaster victims in the rare times that Days of Our bloody Lives decides to visit an Earthquake storyline.

How plastic? They don’t even bother to try make the fake ears on the fairy creatures look the same colour skin as their faces. Because everybody knows your ears are a completely different colour to your face.

We have maybe one or two moments of good special effects, even the more raw stuff from the book is toned down to milkshake levels and one of those effects is at the very end and in the background. So much for their much vaunted over a thousand special FX shots spiel.

But it’s quite hard to get past the ugly children. Who for some reason, because ‘Prince Caspian’ was so good, you had previously ignored they were so ugly, so really ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ comes as somewhat of a shock. Late, I found myself phoning around viewing companions — bewildered, asking desperately: were they this ugly in the previous movies?

It is quite hard to get past the point of ugly children. If you’ve met one, you find yourself unable to stop staring, like watching someone get cut out of a escalator, your eyes are drawn to the strange fleshy geometry of their face. Ask any parent of one, they’ll firmly tell you ugly children don’t exist, because the sad pathetic reality they live in has forced their thin papery fragile minds to break and sent them fleeing into the safety of a delusion that is the only place they can reside so they stop retching every time their child smiles.

But past it I will. There is nobody in movie. Simon Pegg replaces Eddie Izzard as Reebicheep, because apparently the director thought he sounded more mature. Oh and the disembodied voice of Liam Neeson returns as the voice of that bloody Lion.

I’m not saying I need famous faces in a movie to make it work. Just, it could really have helped this not feel as if a matinee after thought thrown together with Hercules the TV series footage and some stuff from the special needs drama school at the bottom of the road.

As for the God bothering of C. S Lewis and the ‘Narnia Chronicles’ that keeps reaching from the screen to belt you across the mind like an abusive aunt. It’s relatively nauseating here and makes me want to devote my life to creating a flux capacitor so I can stop my younger self from reading the books like a crazed atheist Doc Brown.

Which reminds me of the Douglas Coupland book I just read, ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’. Starts out well, wonderfully written, interesting characters, curious plot. Then wham-God-pseudo-Christian bullshit-allegory. You saw it coming, just like with Lewis, you hoped beyond hope it wasn’t so and he did it anyway. The lamest of limp wristed literary cop-outs. That’s right Douglas, your book was such a fuck-off you don’t even get your own review.

Just another book about ugly teenagers who were probably once ugly children that simpers along until the author draws the curtain back fully on the whole pushing Jesus on you. And it’s the worst sort of pushing, mentally it feels like the literary equivalent of being groomed by a paedophile. Which is all in all strikingly like C.S Lewis’ Narnia work, which in childhood was a betrayal akin to finding out the Easter Bunny wasn’t real.

Thank fuck Santa turned out okay though, that would have been a bridge too far.

So, to recap.

Ugly children — plastic — Jesus rubbing your thigh promising sweets if you get into his van — dragon — ugly children — credits roll — ugly children — Jesus.


Originally published at 21/03/2011