SPOILER – WARNING DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM AND ARE WANTING TO GO
So I was disappointed again. I really should not have been surprised. It is Disney making the film after all and they are not making it to please lovers of the Chronicles of Narnia, they are mainly producing a film to make money in Hollywood.
To be honest I’m just writing this to get some pain off my chest – I think what bothers me most is that the makers chopped some of the classic scenes and descriptions – so here are some of the things I didn’t like:
- The change in plot was weird and weak. What was all that about green mist swallowing things up and an island of evil that needed to be defeated? Yes, they captured the ‘battles within’ that are core to The Voyage but to have some glowing green island as the focus of the ‘evil within’ was Disney at its worst. And the quest for the seven swords was utterly unnecessary and rushed.
- The visit to the Lone Islands was far too brief and simple – they almost developed a great sense of fear amongst the culture of the islands but resolved the slave problem far to easily. Lord Berne’s character was wrecked and the wonderful character of Governor Gumpus omitted.
- The Duffelpuds and Coriakin were a let down – again totally rushed through. And the spellbook in Coriakin’s house – Lewis creates some great spells that Lucy reads – why do they need to do away with them all and make up a new one about snow? Oh, yes, so the film can look all Christmassy on the trailers – duh!!
- Eustace as a dragon was good but they missed out the scene in the treasure cave where it dawns on Eustace that he has become a dragon. It is a classic part of the book and I missed it.
- Ramandu’s island was a let down with Ramandu and the birds from Aslan’s country not making an appearance and Ramandu’s daughter falsely depicted as a star that can polymorph – in the book Caspian marries her but there is no hint of that here.
- And the climax of the film is WEAK WEAK WEAK. Suddenly everybody is ok and then a second later Caspian, Lucy, Edmund, Eustace and Reepicheep are at the edge of the world. It’s like you fell asleep and missed a few scenes. And they missed Aslan changing from a lamb to a lion – powerful imagery – probably too explicit.
My favourite aspect of the film were the character’s of Eustace and Reepicheep. They were clearly the best developed and a lot of time was given to their growing companionship. It was heart warming. And there are some great one-liners – some true to C.S. Lewis and some newly created. I love Reepicheep’s classic defense of his faith in Aslan’s country, “We have nothing, if not belief”.
OK, if you enjoy a children’s fantasy, and are not hoping to see a beloved book come to life on the screen then you will really enjoy The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Reviewers have generally been much kinder then me. I was just hoping for something different. I just wish Lewis was around today. He was such a master of culture he would have known exactly how to depict his creation on screen. And despite it all, I’m looking forward to seeing how they do The Silver Chair!
However, my final damning verdict is that the dated plastic BBC version is preferable to Disney’s.