The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: More Adventures in C.S. Lewis Land

This third adaptation from C.S. Lewis’ seven-volume Chronicles of Narnia comes underwritten by a new studio and with a new director, Michael Apted. The war has ground on, and Edmund and Lucy (Skandar Keynes and Georgie Henley), the two youngest Pevensie children, are considerably grown up and sequestered with an aunt in Cambridge, where they share a house with awful cousin Eustace (Will Poulter), who mocks their talk of Narnia. Scarcely has the scene been set when a portal between worlds gobbles the children up. Eustace’s unbelief washes away as they surface in aquamarine waters off the bow of the Narnian Navy’s good ship Dawn Treader. Aboard, Edmund and Lucy reunite with Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), and together they plot a course through the unknown Eastern Seas to World’s End, on a mission to stop malevolent forces. The great cameraman Dante Spinotti—Michael Mann’s go-to—shot Dawn Treader, and he must share credit with a legion of technicians for the sumptuous look of this episode. But at just under two hours, Dawn Treader often feels hasty and overextended—the relationships don’t quite flourish, with the travails of a CGI dragon upstaging the human element. Apted seems to think like an old-hand action director and not enough like the boy who probably read Lewis’ book. To enter Narnia, a young viewer with no magic portal of his own needs characters to bring him along. This is the difference between a c­lassic and a successful franchise reboot.