x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 23 September 2017

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the dawn Treader is a good family film, but not as gripping as the first two films.

In Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Narnia has been engulfed by a mysterious green mist.
In Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Narnia has been engulfed by a mysterious green mist.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader 3D Director: Michael Apted Starring: Georgie Henley, Ben Barnes, Skandar Keynes ***

The Chronicles of Narnia films may not rank alongside the Harry Potter franchise when it comes to the riches they've generated. But with 2005's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and 2008's Prince Caspian collectively grossing more than $1.16 billion (Dh4.3bn), they're hardly paupers in the world of children's films. Like Potter, they're also wholesome adaptations of a best-selling seven-book fantasy, made with predominantly British casts and an old-fashioned sense of craft and care. The third book in CS Lewis's series, first published in 1952, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is now ready to set sail through cinemas. With it comes a new man at the helm, Michael Apted (with the former director Andrew Adamson on board as the producer) and a new direction for its characters, with the two older Pevensie siblings, Peter and Susan, now largely out of the picture. Beginning in wartime England, this allows Edmund (Skandar Keynes) and Lucy (Georgie Henley) to take centre stage. Reluctantly staying with their tiresome tell-tale cousin Eustace (Will Poulter) and his family, Edmund and Lucy are suddenly transported back to Narnia, where they last helped Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes) defeat his evil Uncle Miraz and bring peace to the land. Arriving - with a shocked Eustace in tow - on the deck of Caspian's vessel, the Dawn Treader, they land to discover a green mist has been engulfing luckless natives and causing them to disappear. There's a Jason and the Argonauts feel to proceedings, as Caspian - now the king - must lead his crew to discover what's behind this great evil, while the three children each deal with their own issues. Lucy desires her sister's looks, Edmund still has a chip on his shoulder about always playing second fiddle to Peter, and Eustace refuses to believe in this fairy tale land. Still, it's the latter's addition that really gives the film its spark, thanks to a spirited Poulter (the mischievous kid in Son of Rambow) who turns being obnoxious into an art form. No stranger to blockbusters, having directed the James Bond film The World Is Not Enough, Apted handles the action with aplomb. And there are some splendid visual flourishes, too, in particular the arrival of the dwarfish Dufflepuds, the one-legged Narnia residents that each hop about on a foot so swollen it looks as if it's been beaten with a mallet. There's also the lovely moment when the children are first summoned to Narnia, via a painting of the Dawn Treader that begins to leak water. The use of 3D, however, adds little of value (except to your entrance price). Another disappointment is the absence of Eddie Izzard's vocal talents as Reepicheep, the Dawn Treader's swashbuckling mouse, now voiced by another British comic, Simon Pegg, who sounds wholly uninterested in his task at hand. And in truth, the story doesn't pack a massive emotional punch, perhaps because a sickly looking fog isn't much of a villain. But with a late cameo for the mighty lion Aslan (richly voiced as ever by Liam Neeson), the film finishes with a suitable roar.

For show times, see: www.grandcinemas.com, www.cineroyal.ae, www.reelcinemas.ae, www.cinestarcinemas.com