It was a cold cold night in ye olde London town on Tuesday, and thanks to the lovely folk at Sky Movies HD we got our newest reporter, Hasan, to don a black tie, brave the cold, and take a stroll down the red carpet for ‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader’ Premiere!
As we walked up to Leicester Square, it seemed quiet for a Royal Premiere. It was a freezing cold night, which might explain the relatively small crowd for such a big event. At this point, the decorations were slightly obstructed.
The square was mainly sealed off from the public, with a small area for crowds to watch the stars arrive. We spotted Liam Neeson, Ben Barnes and the film’s director, Michael Apted greeting the crowds. Boy band ‘One Direction’ were in attendance, as well as X Factor winner Joe McElderry, who performed the track he wrote for the film, ‘Someone Wake Me Up’.
We eventually made our way to the ticket gates before Her Royal Highness’ arrival, as the doors had to be closed for her entrance. Once we were through the gates, the evening became enchanting. Going through the other side of the gates felt like going into Narnia through the wardrobe, particularly as the weather ensured that we wore thick winter coats. The decorations and lights were no longer obstructed. Standing on the red carpet amidst a mixture of artificial and real snow within a Narnian themed décor made me feel like I was 8 again.
The film was introduced by Michael Apted, who also introduced a number of the cast members. Will Poulter, who plays Eustace, has clearly sprouted since the film was shot.
VOYAGE OF THE DAWN TREADER REVIEW
The film continues Lucy and Edmund Pevensie’s adventures in Narnia, for them a year after the events in ‘Prince Caspian’ but 3 years later in Narnia, where time moves more quickly. Prince Caspian is now King Caspian and is three years older (as his newly grown beard suggests).
From the film’s opening, it was clear that this was not going to be a faithful adaptation of the C.S. Lewis novel. The dialogue exchanged between the young leads is updated to sound less ‘English’, which is common for a Hollywood film that is expected to recoup a chunk of its cost from an American audience. This could have been subtly done. Instead, C.S. Lewis’s words are largely replaced by clumsy exchanges which are primarily used to bridge the incessant action scenes rather than to develop character. The action scenes are well choreographed and exhilarating.
Controversially, the chronology of events from the novel have been restructured to make King Caspian’s quest more supernatural and action oriented. The novel read like a Narnian take on the Sinbad or Odyssey story. The film felt like a Narnian take on the ‘Pirates Of The Carribean’ movies – character development is abandoned in favour of action and rapid fire editing. The cosiness inside the ship’s cabin is completely lost in Walden Media’s reinvention. In the book, Caspian searches for the seven missing lords of Narnia, an oath he has sworn to himself. In the film, Caspian needs to find the swords belonging to the seven lords and put them all together, which would destroy ‘the dark mist’ which has been plaguing parts of Narnia.
The Pevensie children and Caspian’s experience with the slave trade in the Lone Islands loses all of the novel’s political intrigue. In the novel, Caspian is ‘bought’ by a man who turns out to be one of the missing lords, Bern. The two men work together to overthrow the island’s corrupt Governor. In the film, Bern is a crazy old man imprisoned by the slave traders, and happens to have one of the mystical seven swords on him. The experience on the island is cut short with a skirmish and a quick escape. The sequence would have been much more intriguing had it stuck to the novel. Instead, 2 superfluous characters are introduced – a man and his daughter, whose mother was swallowed by the mist. These 2 characters do nothing to advance the narrative, and are perhaps the weakest addition to the story.
The film’s non stop action prevents most of the cast from giving memorable performances. Most of the cast, including Ben Barnes, spend most of the film running, screaming or fighting. Dialogue was often spoken quickly and theatrically and seemed incidental to the action scenes. I did however get choked up at an emotional exchange between Caspian and Edmund, which makes you wonder why so much of the source material’s human drama was taken out in the adaptation.
The standout character and actor in the film is Eustace, played by Will Poulter. His portrayal of Edmund and Lucy’s cousin differs from the book, where he starts off as a wicked bully who matures as a decent human being in Narnia, after a humbling experience. In the film, he is not so malicious as he is indifferent to everyone around him. In the few scenes he’s in, which are cut short when he turns into a dragon, Poulter demonstrates that he is a talented young actor. There is a great moment in the novel where Eustace tries to steal water onboard the ship and is publicly scolded for this. In the film, a highly dramatic moment turns into yet another action scene, where Eustace has a swashbuckling sword fight with Reepicheep, the talking mouse voice by Simon Pegg.
Sometimes there were so many effects on screen that it looked like an animated film, which took away from the otherwise beautiful cinematography. This was further undermined by the post-converted 3D, which does not have the same feel of Avatar, a film which was shot with advanced stereoscopic cameras.
Despite the radical changes to the novel and the incessant action scenes, it was still an enjoyable experience. 20th Century Fox, who have taken over the franchise from Disney insisted that the film came in at under 2 hours. The film felt rushed at times and would have benefited from another 30 minutes of drama and character development. Perhaps a more substantial director’s cut will be released on DVD.
7/10 – Different to the novel but an enjoyable experience!
See More about the Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader on Sky!
The December episode of Sky Movies’ The Family Show is a Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader Special, in which host Craig Stevens will bring viewers all the action from the red carpet of the title’s World Premiere in London’s Leicester Square, as well as interviews with the cast and clips from the movie. The Family Show Narnia Special airs on Sunday 12th December at 2.25pm on Sky Movies Family/HD.