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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Time Out New York Project: Issue #793, December 9-15, 2010
Dir. Michael Apted. 2010. PG. 115mins. Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes, Georgie Henley, Will Poulter.
Let’s give the third Narnia adventure points for narrative speed. No sooner are we reintroduced to the two younger Pevensie children, Edmund (Keynes) and Lucy (Henley), as well as to their annoyingly “logical” cousin Eustace (Poulter, seemingly channeling Linda Hunt), than a wall painting comes thrillingly alive and we’re transported back to the land of Aslan the lion (voiced by Liam Neeson). But one’s heart sinks the moment the trio is picked up by Prince Caspian (Barnes) and deposited on his ship, the Dawn Treader. Suddenly we’re in green-screen land, where everything looks cheap, heavily digital and unfortunately postconverted to 3-D — hardly a fantastical otherworld.
C.S. Lewis would not approve, and the sub–Harry Potter mishmash that’s been made of his classic children’s series will certainly provoke a few additional spins in the grave. There’s a quest: to seek out the seven lost lords of Narnia and unite their swords at Aslan’s table. But director Michael Apted gives it little sense of scope or purpose; everything feels perfunctory as in a bad video game. Even the scenes that should have some metaphorical weight — for example, the desirous Lucy having a Last Temptation of Christ–like vision — land with a let’s-not-challenge-our-target-audience-too-much thud. With Lewis’s Christian perspective fulled, all we’re left with is a lot of computerized sound and fury. The most telling image hits when Aslan does some ex machina i-dotting and t-crossing by scratching at cybernetic sand. Time to change the kitty litter.—Keith Uhlich
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